The Consensus on The Census

“In 1790, it cost 1¢ per person to take the U.S. Census. In 1990, it was $10.45 per person.” This is information I gleaned from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, which is on my “library” shelf in the bathroom. That tidbit may be as worthless as the toilet tissue I use as a bookmark. But, it got me wondering what it costs to do the census these days? “And,” I thought, “why is Big Brother asking this information? What information is he asking? How come I have to fill out this census thingie-bob? Can I ignore it and make it go away?” (which I now prefer to Google) sent me to a site that had a bit different answer about the cost of the census. It seems that inflation has hit the Census Bureau, too. The difference in the answers for the prices of the older census (how do you pluralize that word?) is only pennies, but it is estimated that the 2010 census will cost a whopping $46.93 per person! Why?

The answer to part of that seemed obvious when I received a postcard from the Census Bureau telling me that I’m going to get a census form in the mail. Well, duh! Did they think I didn’t know that, after they continually interrupt my episodes of Judge Judy with commercials to tell me? Why did they waste money like that? Postcards and television commercials. If they cut the advertising out of the equation, I wonder how much that would save per person? But, that isn’t where all of the cost lies.

My sister is temporarily working for the Census Bureau, and she assured me that if I do not send my completed census form back, then a Census Taker will magically appear at my door. That Census Taker will return until I get off my butt and complete the doggone form. I cannot ignore it and make it go away. It is mandated in the Constitution and required by law to fill out the census forms! I’d better remember to fill out that form. I hate unexpected visitors when I am running around in my pajamas all day … and those Census Takers have to be paid with my tax dollars.

Those are three of the reasons that the Census seems to be expensive, and I don’t want to harp on government bureaucrats and their salaries. Let’s not even go there, because I don’t want to delete comments if people get ugly.

What is Big Brother asking? This year it is just 10 simple questions, and it is about who lives in the household, their ages, their sex, and their ethnicity. You can see the questions for the 2010 census before you get the questionnaire, but you can’t fill it out on-line. The Census Bureau also assures us that our information is confidential (unless somebody hacks their computer).

Why does the government want to know this stuff? Supposedly there is $400 billion dollars (taken from our back pockets) that gets allocated to communities for hospitals, roads and such based on our census information … and it affects the number of seats our areas have in the U.S. House of Representatives. Go to the Census Bureau website to read all the blather, plus some interesting tidbits of history about the census.

It doesn’t take much searching on-line to determine that there are a lot of people who are hot and bothered about the Census. If you are one of those, you can tell me, but be polite (pretty please). Personally, I have no problem with filling out the Census questionnaire. I figure it this way:

A long time ago, I was tracing my family history and found the Census records to be a valuable tool in finding ancestors I didn’t know I had. If a hundred years from now, a descendant of mine should discover my name in a Census record and get a thrill out of it, then it’s worth ten minutes of my time!

  14 comments for “The Consensus on The Census

  1. March 16, 2010 at 6:00 am

    I am so over the Census I don’t know what to do. There’s a problem with our census form (they think our house is two apartments), and I can’t get them to fix it. I tried ten years ago, and now I’m trying again. You get this great, expensive pep-rally-booster of a website with Flash and everything. But (gasp) there’s no substantive or helpful information at all. It’s one giant Census lovefest, but nowhere to they tell you how to address little paperwork problems like that. We could have saved at least half that cost with a little less fluff and boosterism and a few more people in an office somewhere who can assist the public with their forms. Grrrrr.
    .-= Anne´s last blog ..The Work of Human Hands =-.

    • March 16, 2010 at 7:51 am

      Perhaps it would have been easier to just send Census Takers around … at least it would be a job that somebody could take. I’d rather spend tax money paying salaries than sending mail.

  2. March 16, 2010 at 7:03 am

    My wife, Chris, had the same reaction to the post card informing us that we would soon be receiving the census form. What a waste of money! Same for the advertisements on TV and radio. But, I’m sure someone somewhere could explain how money spent in this manner encourages just enough Americans to fill out the form so we don’t have to spend even more money to send the census worker out to gather the information. And speaking as a geographer, I love the data collected by the census! It is a gold mine for analysts. Just wish they could figure out a way to collect the info on-line.
    .-= Van Sutherland´s last blog ..John Bremond, Jr. House =-.

    • March 16, 2010 at 7:53 am

      On-line would never work. Am I dreaming this, or did the census once ask “how many bathrooms” were in a house? I know they are allowed to ask other info, but I’m thinking that I heard Daddy grouse about that.

  3. March 16, 2010 at 7:27 am

    My issue is with the adoption/biological child boxes. In theory it’s supposed to help the govt gather stats on adoptions but I’m not sure what good it is supposed to do. There are plenty of bloggers out there who have explained their concerns better than I can. Personally, it offends me! I took an oath in a court of law saying my child is to be considered as a “natural child” . I do not go around saying “this is my adopted son” or make a big hullabaloo about it. He is my son, period. Interestingly enough, adopted children can never be legally disowned like a natural born child according to Tx. law.
    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..St Patrick’s Parade – Part 2 =-.

    • March 16, 2010 at 7:55 am

      I like the term “chosen.” And, I can see that it might bother you, however I’m sure that an analyst out there has a reason this might be important … though I can’t fathom it. The good thing is that your information is confidential.

  4. March 16, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Just got mine in the mail today, exactly one week after the notice telling me I will get one in a week. Gotta admit, they’re right on time. Now where’s my income tax refund check?
    I’ll fill out the form. I’ll stand up and be counted.

    .-= Spadoman´s last blog ..Ruby Tuesday 03/16/2010 =-.

    • March 19, 2010 at 5:48 pm

      I sent mine back, because I don’t want a census taker to arrive ;-). I’m looking for my tax refund check, too! Maybe if the government had connected the two, they’d get those census forms back quicker?

  5. March 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Well, I’ve done some projecting around today–didn’t really have the time, but I did it anyway. Apparently the solution to our problem is to send BOTH forms back without filling them out. That will bring a census enumerator to the doorstep. We can then demonstrate to him/her that this really is a single family dwelling and not an apartment house.
    .-= Anne´s last blog ..The Work of Human Hands =-.

    • Joy
      March 17, 2010 at 9:00 am

      Resourcefulness rules! Good to keep looking until you find an answer, Anne. Government is often a two-edged sword. They provide statistical data if we answer their questions. Give up a little personal information for information about the nation as a whole. Weigh the benefits against the costs to determine process usefulness. We do have a choice about providing information, and if that changes we will be in a sorry state. With how much fear do we want to surround ourselves? If we trust, stand up and be counted. If not, take a stand.
      .-= Joy´s last blog ..CHEER FOR BEER BREAD =-.

    • March 19, 2010 at 5:50 pm

      That sounds like it will work, Anne. Joy, we have to fill these forms out. This isn’t one on which we want to “take a stand.” I don’t know the fine, but the government will fine us if we don’t return it. If they can use the information in a helpful way, it didn’t seem all that invasive to me.

  6. Joy
    March 20, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I didn’t realize that there was a fine. Committed civil disobedience would call for not sending in the form & paying the fine, but I suspect most won’t bother. Path of least resistance is strong. Wonder if they will dispatch a census taker to collect. Hahaha.
    .-= Joy´s last blog ..MARCH MADNESS =-.

  7. Mara
    April 20, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Recently, I found the 2010 Census form hanging on my door. As I began filling it out, I came across a dilemma. The U.S. government wants to know if my children are adopted or not and it wants to know what our races are. Being adopted myself, I had to put “Other” and “Don’t Know Adopted” for my race and “Other” and “Don’t Know” for my kids’ races.

    Can you imagine not knowing your ethnicity, your race? Now imagine walking into a vital records office and asking the clerk for your original birth certificate only to be told “No, you can’t have it, it’s sealed.”

    How about being presented with a “family history form” to fill out at every single doctor’s office visit and having to put “N/A Adopted” where life saving information should be?

    Imagine being asked what your nationality is and having to respond with “I don’t know”.

    It is time that the archaic practice of sealing and altering birth certificates of adopted persons stops.

    Adoption is a 5 billion dollar, unregulated industry that profits from the sale and redistribution of children. It turns children into chattel who are re-labeled and sold as “blank slates”.

    Genealogy, a modern-day fascination, cannot be enjoyed by adopted persons with sealed identities. Family trees are exclusive to the non-adopted persons in our society.

    If adoption is truly to return to what is best for a child, then the rights of children to their biological identities should NEVER be violated.

    Every single judge that finalizes an adoption and orders a child’s birth certificate to be sealed should be ashamed of him/herself.

    I challenge all readers: Ask the adopted persons that you know if their original birth certificates are sealed.

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