The Census And The Desire For Small Government

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

In this job I talk to people from all walks of life, with diverse viewpoints about our country. The 2010 Census is conducted by a Federal government agency, using taxpayer money. Thus, the first reaction to the census is often shaped by one’s attitudes toward the larger Federal government. Some first view the census with a great deal of cynicism.

I talked to a few friends recently who truly want a small Federal government and wish to keep it out of their day-to-day lives as much as possible. They view the census as part of “big government;” further, they view it as an unnecessary intrusion of privacy.

As we seek to count everyone, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this point of view.

First, it’s relevant, I believe, to note that at the very moment of birth of the US, before there were any programs of the Federal government, when there were only four cabinet-level departments (State, Treasury, War, Justice), there was the mandate to do the census. In the US Constitution immediately after the words that establish the Senate and the House of Representatives, there appears (In Article 1, Section 2) the mandate to do the census every 10 years. The census was the tool to assure that the House of Representatives provided equal representation to all persons.

I suppose that the founding fathers might have given census-taking as a responsibility to the states, but individual states have a real incentive to maximize their population counts for the benefit of more members in the House. So it makes sense that the founding fathers decided that this activity needed to be a responsibility of the Federal government. It has remained so for every one of the 22 censuses conducted since 1790.

The First Federal Congress established a special committee to prepare the questions to be included in the first census. The suggestions were likely debated in the House, and according to a report in a Boston newspaper, Virginia Representative James Madison recommended at least five of the six questions. Under the direction of Thomas Jefferson, the secretary of state, marshals took the census in the original 13 states plus the districts of Kentucky, Maine, and Vermont, and the Southwest Territory (Tennessee).

It is true that the Federal government is larger than it was in 1790. However, in times of small governments and big governments, the census has always been conducted by the Federal government. The census is undeniably not a creation of big government.

On the 10-question 2010 Census, we’re going back to a census that is more like 1790 than any other. You’ll find three questions directly from 1790: an inquiry about the number of people in a household, a question about gender, and a question about race. The genius of the Founders was taking a tool historically used for government oppression and making it a tool of political empowerment for the governed. They accomplished that goal in 1790 and we’re about to continue that tradition in 2010.

Second, it’s relevant to note that for those households that don’t return the form, the Federal government will have to spend more taxpayer money. To have a good census, we will hire and send out census takers to collect the information in face-to-face interviews from those not completing the form. Not taking the 10 minutes needed to fill out the form because one doesn’t like big government ironically merely acts to increase the size of the Federal government workforce.

Third, some of my friends have concerns that the 2010 Census is an intrusion of privacy. On this, it helps to show them the 2010 form. It asks only for name, age, gender, ethnicity, race, whether they own or rent their home, and whether they sometimes live elsewhere. (We ask for phone number to contact folks when we can’t understand some of their answers; then we destroy their phone number.) The 2010 Census has been limited only to questions that are absolutely necessary.

For some of my friends, these observations are persuasive; for others, not. Most admit they hadn’t really thought much about it.

Those with strong views about the Federal government ought to make sure they are fairly represented in Congress. The 2010 Census is the tool for each of us to make sure we get the number of House members we deserve, as a way to achieve the government we want.

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71 Responses to The Census And The Desire For Small Government

  1. Dr Data says:

    Related to costs are the complaints about the Census Bureau spending $2.5 million for Super Bowl ads. This seems like a big expense until folks understand that it costs the Census Bureau even more to follow-up with the households that didn’t fill out their census forms. For every 1% reduction in response rate it costs the Census Bureau approximately $80 million to follow-up.
    Likewise, all the small government folks who plan on answering just one question on the census – “How many people live here?” They too are contributing to a more costly census if enumerators have to go back and get the details on the residents.

  2. ED Taylor says:

    The FAQs show how much mistrust the public has for this administration. The census seems to be touted as necessary for doling out government funds, but the truth is the government is into a region of debt which the CBO warns to be unsustainable. If it’s true that the government borrows more than 40 cents of every dollar spent, then the Super Bowl ad is more than foolish!

  3. M. RennDawg Renner says:

    I am someone who objects to questions on the Census. I am not complaining about the cost. I know that the Constitution mandates it. What I object to is questions that are non of yours or anyone elses business. I am answering them with NYOB (None Of Your Business) or NBBM (Nobody’s Business But Mine).

  4. Trustless says:

    Why would census enumerators have to go back for information other than “How many people live here?” The census is to count people to distribute funds, not to determine whether a person owns or rents a home or mobile home… what their ages are etc. This is supposed to an enumeration.

  5. gperko@yahoo.com says:

    As to invasion of privacy, the census form asks for date of birth. I can see how this item may be useful in a cross reference situation, and it is difficult to ignore this invasion of my privacy. I would be more comfortable if this was asked only in cases where it was required, not asked of everyone.

  6. David says:

    You ask “a question about race”.
    How is it relevant? What difference does the race make in counting how many people there are?

  7. Denise Wallace says:

    As an educator, I am greatly enjoying this blog and using it to teach some of my elementary students and their families about the 2010 census. There is a great book picture book (c) 2009 titled “Tricking the Tallyman: The great census shenanigans of 1790.” This is a great tool for reaching younger students that uses humor and illustrations to accurately portray the 1st enumeration. (And not much has changed in the perception of the census since!)

  8. As an educator, I am greatly enjoying this blog and using it to teach some of my elementary students and their families about the 2010 census. There is a great book picture book (c) 2009 titled “Tricking the Tallyman: The great census shenanigans of 1790.” This is a great tool for reaching younger students that uses humor and illustrations to accurately portray the 1st enumeration. (And not much has changed in the perception of the census since!)

  9. Observer says:

    In 1942, over 120,000 persons of Japanese ethnicity were held in internment camps by the federal government using census data. The majority were American citizens.
    What assurance does the citizenry have that such a thing would never again take place – or, lacking that assurance, what motivation to fully cooperate with a census which may jeopardize their liberty in the future, should they happen to be of the wrong demographic?

  10. Roger Sidebottom says:

    Roger in Texas:
    This blog states that there are only 10 questions, however, the census form I received had page after page of questions, IE. what time do I go to work each day, how much is my water bill, electric bill, heating bill, how many hours do I work each week, how much do I make, education level, home value and how much do I pay in taxes. None of this has anything to do with enumeration.

  11. Observer,
    Thank you for sharing your concerns. I want to assure you the U.S. Census Bureau takes very seriously its responsibility to protect confidentiality. It is our strong belief that the accuracy of the census depends on the willing participation and cooperation of respondents, therefore, we value respondent trust as vital to the success of the 2010 Census.
    With respect to your concerns about the Census Bureau’s activities during World War II, as we have indicated in the past, the historical record provides substantial information about the extent to which senior Census Bureau staff assisted the Army in the internment of Japanese-Americans. The Census Bureau provided non-confidential small-area data tabulations and sent a statistician to assist the Army staff in San Francisco with the internment of the Japanese on the West Coast. The records of both the Census Bureau and the Army located at the National Archives contain examples of and contemporary accounts describing the statistical tabulations.
    However, it is also important to acknowledge that the records of the Census Bureau from the World War II era indicate that the agency provided confidential microdata to executive departments and agencies, as it was legally required to do to assist the war effort. These releases were sanctioned by law, specifically the Second War Powers Act that was passed by Congress and the President in March of 1942 and was later repealed in 1947. Section 1402 of the Second War Powers Act created an exception to the confidentiality provisions of the Census Law at the time and instructed the Secretary of Commerce to make records (meaning census data) available for the war effort, and an Executive Order established a process to facilitate the release of such data. Upon request, the Census Bureau did supply many agencies with data about both individuals and companies. Examples include information about Japanese families living in Washington, DC that was shared with the Secret Service and data about companies in various industries that was shared with the Office of Price Administration and other agencies.
    It is important to note that in the post-war period, key safeguards to protect confidential information have been instituted, notably stronger legal provisions to protect data confidentiality. Specifically, Section 9 of Title 13 is clear and unequivocal: The Census Bureau collects information solely for statistical purposes and it cannot release any information that could be used to identify an individual person or business. Only sworn individuals may have access to confidential data, and to disclose such information is a federal crime for which the penalties may be up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Moreover, census data may not be used against any individual by a government agency or court.
    The confidentiality of the census has been recognized and upheld by the Supreme Court and the Census Bureau is fully committed to safeguarding and protecting the information we collect. It is also clear that over the past half-century, and especially following the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the critical importance of summary data for enforcement of voting rights and civil rights stands in contrast to the use of information in the 1940s to deny civil rights to citizens of the United States of Japanese ancestry.
    For more information about the law and the precautions we take to protect information, please consult the Census Bureau’s Data Protection and Privacy Policy website, http://www.census.gov/privacy/

  12. I have three words for the census taker, “one white male”. Then I am shutting the door.

  13. I Count in Georgia says:

    That was probably The American Community Survey Form that is sent to scientifically selected sample addresses, and was identified as such. Lucky me, my address was scientifically selected last summer. See http://www.census.gov/acs/www. However, that is not the same as this one that will be identified as Census 2010, will only have 10 questions, and be mailed between March 15 – 17. I begrungedly completed the ACS, but it is a necessary tool used to update and estimate demographics and populations in the years between the decinneal census that planners and others need and use. I will gladly spend the 10 minutes or less to complete the Census 2010 questionnaire, because I want to see how my community has actually changed in the last 10 years, without using the estimates.

  14. Bob says:

    This is ridiculous.
    All they feds need to know is how many people live in each state so that they can be adequately represented in congress.
    All the rest of it folderol.
    It’s not like we elect officials that come from outer space and are counting on census data in order to properly represent the constituents back in their states.
    Most elected resp start out as state reps and therefore have a very good idea of what, if any, fereral government funding is needed for their state.
    If you federal rep is such a dolt that he or she does not properly represent you in the House, then boot them out and elect someone else. Reps are only elected for 2 years so hopefully they don’t cause too much trouble in 2 years.
    I cannot believe anyone would defend the asking of such ridiculous, inane, and completely useless questions, or that anyone would actually take the time to answer these same questions.
    This census is going to cost somewhere between $13.7B and $14.5B. Imagine what we could do with that money instead of wasting everyones time answering completely superfluous questions and running an ad during the superbowl.

  15. Not Eager says:

    I do understand that the Constitution authorizes that census, however I don’t see how it authorizes anything more than a count of human beings. The original purpose was to ensure an accurate distribution of Representatives in the House. A single question with number answer addresses this.
    The expansion into entitlement programs is, I feel, an abuse of the census. I’m not eager to perpetuate the entitlement culture built by our overly large Federal government.
    That, and there’s a history of census abuse.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Census#Historical_FBI_use_of_data
    That’s one we know about – I’d be surprised if there weren’t more that haven’t been publicly acknowledged.

  16. Ed says:

    Why does the 2010 census “legally” require us to count “ILLEGALE” Immigrants? If you read the form it clearly states anyone who lives and sleeps in the home “most of the time” must be counted…. regardless of legality of their residence in this country. I don’t understand this. I thought we were counting American citizens for proper and equal representation……

  17. Ed,
    The Census Act of March 1790 specified that all residents be counted, citizens and noncitizens alike; and every decade’s effort has followed that rule.
    Presidential administrations of both parties have repeatedly upheld the interpretation that the apportionment and census clauses of Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and Section 2 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, as well as the 1790
    Census Act and its successors, require that every person residing in the country must be included in the census count.

  18. joe says:

    I still don’t see why the census people need more than how many people and our ages are. I see a spot for my race( see a spot for color of skin) because I am a American of Irish, German,English etc get my point.

  19. Joe,
    Race is key to implementing many federal laws and is needed to monitor compliance with the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.

  20. Nate Shimura says:

    Kev,
    I realize you are a Census employee whose job it is to get as many people to respond to the census inquiry as possible – a difficult and admirable job.
    But don’t insult everyone by justifying the Census’s involvement in the World War II internment of Japanese Americans as a “legal” part of the war effort. Antebellum slavery was also “legal;” we can, and have, made a distinction between national moral failures and otherwise lawful activity.
    I realize that Congress is taking a “Never Again” attitude towards the Census’s earlier indiscretions, particularly with the provisions of 13 U.S.C. 9(a)(1).
    But the concerns of the commenters on this blog are genuine and real, and deserve more than just cursory and, frankly, obtuse responses.

  21. Jim says:

    No illegal alien or non citizen should be counted. Why would we want to count them, the census is for determining representation in our government, and Federal, State and Local social programs. No illegal alien or non citizen has a right to these programs, or representation in our government! This is how our social programs are being sucked dry, by continuing to count them as residents when they are just criminal trespassers. DETECT, DETAIN, DEPORT and the “anchor” babies too!

  22. Betty says:

    I have just seen a sample of the few questions on the census and am very very upset. Since when is it anyone’s business to know what race/background I am? I believe this is unconstitutional – The idea behind this country is that everyone be treated the same – By asking this type of question – it is immediately segregational/ I will not be a part of the census for this reason! And neither should anyone else.

  23. Concerned Fed says:

    If you are indeed asking for resident’s birthdates, and the forms are identifiable by address, that appears to be a violation of the policy to not collect Personally Identifiable Information. As a government employee, I can tell you that it is worse for someone to release PII than classified information; and also tell you that the mere act of requiring someone’s birthdate in such an unprotected medium is Not A Good Idea. Why would you need birthdates at all? And what are the legal ramifications if only some questions are answered?Please address these comments.

  24. Ray says:

    The only count needed is how many LEGAL residents are in the home! The government does not need my gender, income, own or rent or anything else. any question but number on legal in house will not be answered. My phone number will not be disclosed, nor where I work, how much I make or what nation my ancestors came from. Where does the Government get off asking information having nothing to do with the numbers of Congressmen we have to put up with?

  25. You can see the purpose and history of each question on the 2010 Census at http://2010.census.gov/2010census/how/interactive-form.php

  26. Frank says:

    Your attempt to explain the need for the questions on the census form is full of statements that add fuel to the mistrust of intelligent citizens. You justify the questions as being realted to the “genius” of the Founding Fathers. If they were so intelligent, why does the Congress, Supreme Court, and Administration now say that changes are needed because the intentions of the Founding Fathers do not apply to modern society. Also, I have had years of management experience that included many interviews with potential employees. The government made it very clear that we could not require an applicant to provide information such as age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, how many childern they had, religious affiliation, a telephone number if they had no telephone, etc. Why is it the Census form has the very same questions on it that we were not legally allowed to ask?

  27. Wesley Reiff says:

    Dear Sir:
    Yes, I too am concerned about the money spent to make two mailings prior to the mailing of the actual census forms. But more so, what does race and ethnicity have to do with the number of people in an area? Race does not determine the number of representatives in a state nor does ethnicity.
    I believe that you are intruding into areas that are not your business.

  28. Tim says:

    While it’s true that the 1790 census had a question about race, that is not relevant today. The only reason it was relevant then was that at the time, the Constitution established that blacks were counted as 3/5 of a person for the purpose of apportioning representation. This meant that race information was required in order to apportion representation according to the Constitution as it then existed. The 3/5 provision is no longer in force today, so the original reason for asking about race no longer exists. The fact that it was asked then has no bearing on the need to ask now. If our goal is to eliminate racism, why do we keep perpetuating it with such constant focus on race and making government programs so race-focused? There is no constitutional basis for racial preferences, either way, and continuing such preferences only perpetuates the racism they are supposedly intended to eliminate. Continuing to ask race questions on the census perpetuates the needless division of Americans into competing factions and does more harm than good.

  29. Jay says:

    I pleed the “5th”! If they want my personal info, they can go through the “4th”. I have 4 in my household, that is all the info you need and that is all you will get.

  30. Zooboo Blotsky says:

    Hmmm—so we must count citizens and non citizens—-THEN WHY DONT YOU ASK THE CITIZENSHIP ON THE FORM-This way the bright lites in Washington may wake up and count us as citizens first and foremost and distribute those funds to the citizens. If non citizens are not afforded any funds let them have their own census.

  31. Joseph says:

    That is awesome that the Census in 1790 was concern with the amount of Latinos in America as the 2010 Census is concern with as shown in question 8…..
    With all sarcasm aside what is the thinking or purpose that went into devoting a whole question towards the Latino populations and combining all other races into question 9? I would really like some clarity on this purpose of questioning.

  32. Pam says:

    Jim you hit the biggest problem right on the nose. The census should only count American citizen and legally documented workers/students. This household may not fill out the census due to this very issue

  33. You can see the purpose and history of each question on the 2010 Census at http://2010.census.gov/2010census/how/interactive-form.php

  34. Ken says:

    KJE to Nate
    Thank you for putting it so well, and just right to the point. And since I do not seem to be able to get a clear answer to this question form the Census Bureau I will ask you. Are we as citizens required by law to answer every quesition on the census form?

  35. Ken,
    Completing every question on the census is mandated by law, but we reach out to you. Because of the Constitutional importance of the census, a fine of up to $5,000 possible. However, the Census Bureau is not in the business of prosecuting noncompliance but facilitating participation. If a person doesn’t return their census form, a census enumerator will visit them to obtain a face-to-face interview. Repeated attempts are made by enumerators, greatly increasing the cost of the census. Residents can save the country this expense by mailing in the forms.

  36. Peggy says:

    I have no problem returning the form,but why does the Census Bureau need to know if I owe money on my home?

  37. This question has been asked on the census since 1890. Homeownership rates serve as an indicator of the nation’s economy. The data are also used to administer housing programs to inform planning decisions. For a description of the purpose of each question, please visit: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/how/interactive-form.php

  38. Randy says:

    Sorry Ken, but according to the supreme law of the land, The United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, the only thing I’m required to disclose on the census is the number people living at my place of residence….which is all you’re getting. The rest of the questions on your form are for information that is none of your business or can be found in other locations. When your busybodies come to my house I will not answer any of their questions above and beyond what is constitutionally required by me and I recommend that everyone else do the same.

  39. Betsy says:

    The Census Act of 1790 counted non-citiznes because it was interested in the number of slaves. And slaves were not citizens until 14th Amendment.
    I resent the number of non-citizens being used to gerrymander Congressional Districts.
    I resent the fact this census is so concerned about those of Hispanic origin. I read the commnet about bi-lingual access and that is a huge waste of taxpayer money. The Continental Congress choice English as the language of our country (the other option was German). If a person moves to this country, they need to learn the language. Why do we make such accommodation to the those of Hispanic origin when we don’t make the same accomodation to the melting pot of other languages in this country.
    Kev – despite your belief that all of this information is harmless and provides the demographics that are wanted. This form should be structured as follows:
    Question 1 – # of People
    Question 2 – # of occupants who are citizens
    Question 3 – # of people who are non-citizens
    Question 4 – # of people 75 and above
    # of people 60 – 74 yrs old
    # of people 45 – 59 yrs old
    # of people 30 – 44 yrs old
    # of people 18 – 29 yrs old
    # of people 11 – 17 yrs old
    # of people 6 – 10 yrs old
    # of people 2 – 5 yrs old
    # of people 0 – 23 months old
    Thank you for filling out your form.
    Whether or not race, gender, home ownership, birthdates, names,
    etc have been included previously does not mean they should be included now. You need number of occupants, citizens and an age range, That should provide you with all the info you need for planning for services and infrstructure. The rest in an invasion of privacy and none of your business

  40. Betsy,
    As mandated in the Constitution, the decennial Census must count each person living in this country.For a description of the purpose of each question, please visit: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/how/interactive-form.php

  41. John Owen says:

    Kev, Please provide more detail on how race data is used in implementing federal law and in monitoring compliance with the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. Are these the only reasons race data is gathered? Also, who authorizes the actual census form; does Congress approve the actual form and questions? It would be helpful if the rationale for gathering potentially controversial information could be included with the census form, and perhaps in the future money could be spent on that rather than mailing out a letter that announces the census is coming or on Super Bowl ads. Thank you.

  42. Dan J. says:

    I found the historical background of the census reassuring. The statement, “The genius of the Founders was taking a tool historically used for government oppression and making it a tool of political empowerment for the governed,” shows that Americans should view this as a service. If the authors of the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution found it crucial to our freedom and representation in Washington – than I’m certainly for it. We should be thankful that, with Madison writing the majority of the questions, at least they aren’t essay questions.

  43. Bobs Uruncle says:

    Do yourselves a favor and do not send in your forms. Do not answer the doors when the Census worker arrives. Enough with Government intrusion in our lives.

  44. Martha says:

    I agree with this. I don’t mind putting male/female, number of household, age…BUT I do have an issue with full names and date of birth. To request this information leads me to believe that the census has further objectives rather than just counting people. I do not trust my government. I am sorry, guys, but you’ve done this yourselves. I follow the law, work for a living, do good, and I do not want you involved in my personal life. It gets personal when you need names of people living in my house (you already have my name on the deed) and dates of birth. Unnecessary. Save us some money on the cost of paper and ink and make it 2 questions 10 years from now:
    How many people reside here?
    What are the age, ethnicity, and gender of each member of the household?
    These two questions pose no invasion to me and should satisfy both sides.
    Leave me alone.

  45. Martha,
    Complete responses are required by law. If you send in an incomplete form, someone will be required to visit. We collect birth dates because we need data on age, and its easier to detect errors made in age (4 months vs. 4 years) if we ask for an actual birth date.
    Federal state and local governments need data about age to interpret most social and economic characteristics such as forecasting the number of people eligible for social security and Medicare. The data is also widely used for planning and evaluating government policies and programs that provide funding and services for children, working age adults, women of childbearing age or the older population. Your phone number is collected in case the information provided on the form is incomplete– it’s a lot less expensive to make a phone call than to send someone to a house.

  46. martha says:

    This is perfect. And I personally don’t even mind adding my age. But that’s it, that’s enough. End of story.

  47. Cheryl Long says:

    If our information is supposed to be used only to COUNT us, and will not be used for any OTHER reason, why, then, do you need our NAMES AND BIRTHDATES???? Wouldn’t it be enough to ask if we are male or female, ethnic (specify group) and within a certain age group (specify age group)? The fact that you ask for our names and birthdates says to me that this information will NOT be confidential and that it can be used for any reason the government so desires to TRACK us for whatever nefarious reasons it chooses. This is an INVASION OF PRIVACY! By stating that it’s only for counting is to treat us as if we are stupid sheep or something. How dumb do you think the American public is, anyway? We sent your Census back in, but I want it known that we are doing so under PROTEST!

  48. Cheryl Long says:

    …And I also object to the fact that this very topic (invasion of privacy) is being addressed as a MYTH! I believe you’re going to find that most American citizens are concerned about the potential misuses of this information, and to bury it in a subject header likes MYTHS makes it look like we, those concerned Americans, are somehow eccentric, illogical beings, who could and should be easily ignored. WE HAVE A RIGHT TO BE CONCERNED!!! This issue should be addressed front-and-center, PAGE 1!!! Unless, of course, you have something to hide.

  49. Cheryl,
    Thank you for sharing your concerns. I want to assure you the U.S. Census Bureau takes very seriously its responsibility to protect confidentiality. It is our strong belief that the accuracy of the census depends on the willing participation and cooperation of respondents, therefore, we value respondent trust as vital to the success of the 2010 Census.
    We collect birth dates because we need data on age, and its easier to detect errors made in age (4 months vs. 4 years) if we ask for an actual birth date. Federal state and local governments need data about age to interpret most social and economic characteristics such as forecasting the number of people eligible for social security and Medicare. The data is also widely used for planning and evaluating government policies and programs that provide funding and services for children, working age adults, women of childbearing age or the older population. Your phone number is collected in case the information provided on the form is incomplete– it’s a lot less expensive to make a phone call than to send someone to a house.

  50. dude says:

    so ken@census, how do you and your facist buddies plan to “enforce compliance” with the acts? forcibly move people to make your numbers better?
    I still haven’t figured out you liberal bastards in DC, are you facists, communists, or just the worst of both?

  51. dude again says:

    um, why not just get the information from the IRS? by the way why wasn’t my last post included? perhaps because I questioned the almighty govt.? viva la revo…

  52. Fartman says:

    fart is good for u’re health so cmon people keep farting

  53. Pat says:

    Couldn’t the federal government get the information they need from our tax returns? Everyone who files a tax return claims dependents that live with them already, right?
    How bout this idea then. A simple website that the head of household can login using his or her social security number. The identity could be validated by asking for address, last tax return adjusted gross income or some other information that could be cross-referenced with the tax filing. Then that person enters the social security number for each person living in the house. If someone doesn’t provide the info to the web site then you pull their info from the last tax filing. If they didn’t file taxes or don’t have a SS# then they don’t get counted.
    This won’t fly of course because for some reason we want to count people that don’t have social security numbers or are here illegally even though the census is supposed to be all about representation in the government. Shouldn’t we only be counting eligible voters and their citizen dependents?

  54. Moot Duff says:

    Screw that.
    “One male” now get out of here.

  55. Sarah says:

    I really don’t think the Census Bureau needs to know which of my children are adoptive or biological. I’m offended that the guy keeps hounding me about it like he is an authority and I must answer.

  56. Sarah, It is required that you answer all of the question on the 2010 Census. In advance of providing the questions to be included on the next census to Congress, the U.S. Census Bureau asked federal agencies to provide information on their data needs, so that only necessary data are collected, as opposed to data that could be acquired by other means. The Office of Management and Budget facilitates the process to validate current uses of census data, determine unnecessary subjects and questions, and identify new subjects for which questions are required. Section 141(f)(2) of the Census Act requires that not later than 2 years before the next census, the questions to be included on that census be submitted to Congress. In March 2007, the subjects to be included on the 2010 Census were submitted to Congress.

  57. R.Lanzi says:

    Kev,
    Trusting the Govt with data is risky, ask the veterns that lost SSN’s in a stolen laptop taken home by a employee. The data asked is not needed ; just count number of people in the house, PEROID.. Race,age and all the other stuff is not needed to count the population. Race is a loaded question, i done judge or think of others as black, white, or the other caategories, yet you want us to (One nation under god ?)

  58. Joseph Brenner says:

    No American has any more or less right to the “blessings of liberty” than any other, because we are all of one race: Human. That, and citizenship should be all that’s needed to be entitled to everything our government has to offer. All laws are implemented for all people.
    In 1790, it was different, because people were allowed to own people, but that is no longer an option.
    True unity will start when we stop finding ways to disunite the United States

  59. Bill says:

    It’s almost laughable reading these posts. If I sent out a letter to these homes offering these folks a job making several thousand dollars a year by answering 10 simple questions and nothing more, most would go for it. As it is they have answered all these and even more personal questions to get their current employment; with the reality that a capable hacker could download the HR files or a two-bit thief could walk out of a business with the cash register and the personnel files (both actually happened in my hometown). We do in a way get paid by filling out the census, by using the government run services provided. I am not a fan of big intrusive government and never will, but they have asked for most of this same information for about 100 years, every 10 years, so I’m willing to answer my census form. For those who think it’s the current adminstration wanting to show up and arrest those of us who aren’t fans, go to your local library, ask to see the old censuses on microfilm. Guess what? 100 years ago, they were asking for names, ages, genders, and races just like today.

  60. Ami Chopine says:

    It’s really interesting, actually, to see those very old census responses. It’s more than just numbers. With the names, one gets some sense of people’s place in history. We see families, neighbors, communities. This is like the journal of the people of the US.
    Yeah. I guess evil people can use information evilly. But if you think not putting your name on the census will protect you from that kind, that’s just silly. All it will do is leave you out of history.
    No one complains that the IRS wants all that and a whole lot more info.

  61. Linda says:

    What about this long community form? You expect my 86 year old parent with dementia to fill out the thing? You want me to fill it out? It will take me days and days and much going through records to put down all that financial information. Why, it will take the same amount of work that doing her income taxes will take me. Right now I am enraged at the government putting this task on me. It is ridiculous.

  62. merlin says:

    Respectfully — while it is true that the “short” form of the census is very brief, your comments here about the length of the form are somewhat disingenuous.
    The American Community survey is quite lengthy, quite detailed and, in my view, unnecessarily intrusive. I object in particular to the collection of information about marital status designed (according to your website AND TO A CENSUS BUREAU EMPLOYEE I SPOKE WITH ON THE PHONE) to “influence marital behavior.”
    A line has been crossed. I have complained about this to my senator and congressman.

  63. Pourchot says:

    American ignorance of “institutional racism” is only one small reason for the need to clarify race/ethnicity. I too would like to believe that as a country we have moved past our history of racism but reality proves we have not. Look at our jails and tell me we have no reason to ask such a question in this great melting pot we call home. Have we forgotten where we came from? Do you not realize there are things we must do that we do not like for the benefit of the whole? I have worked in the field for the past 11 months for the census and am pleased to say that for the most part, Americans responded well to this census, much better than the 2000 census I worked as well. I have hope that one day our nation will truly be able to throw out the need for this question as we move to more than just a tolerable state of differences.
    And I am also pleased to inform you all that for those of you who did refuse to respond appropriately, your neighbors were more than willing to provide us with your information.
    Thank you all for a wonderful opportunity to serve my country once again.

  64. informed nonconspiracy nut says:

    you only gain the right to plead the 5th amendment when whatever the answer to the question you were asked would incriminate you.

  65. informed nonconspiracy nut says:

    do yourself (and the rest of us) a favor, move if you don’t like it

  66. My Opinion says:

    I just received the American Community Survey. This appears to be yet another overreaching government intrusion. After dutifully filling in the short form, I feel offended that the census bureau once again intrudes into my private matters under their loosly interpreted definition of the constitution. The short form should be all that’s constitutionally required.
    As for the security of our data, your responses are a joke. One simple act by congress is all that’s required to defeat all of the security. This is evidenced by their constant meddling with the law to fit their goals. For example, raising the penalty from $100 to $5000, or by a loosly interpreted “war powers act”. What this really boils down to is the government wanting to expand into and control even more areas of our lives by using this expanded data as justification.
    No where have you shown actual evidence that the previous data submitted has been used to actually assist the average american citizen.
    As Cherly Long said so eloquently, your efforts to make everything you dissagree with a “myth” is an easy way to avoid actually answering our concerns with the real threat these expanded forms represent.
    Further, who’s to say the American Community Survey is the last form we’ll have to fill in? I think if you want to get more data you’ll just send out more forms that you say we’re required to fill in. This is very annoying and further erodes my faith in our government.
    In closing, I think you’d have a bit more creditability if you had every census employee, including the temp ones, fill out the American Community Survey prior to working for it. Of course you can’t because many of those questions are violations of employment law…. What a farce!

  67. JSJ says:

    Dear Dr. Groves:
    My frustration with this entire process? My husband mailed in the 10-question form. Then we got a note on our door a few weeks later: “Please call this number to complete your census”. Then, AFTER SPEAKING WITH THAT PERSON, *another* person showed up one morning in person–to verify the information on the form and over the telephone were correct!!
    Tell me this was not a waste of money, time and effort? You paid for the form & people to read it; you paid the one worker to try and locate people, then speak on the phone to us; you paid yet another worker wages and fuel expense to talk in person to the same people who have already answered the SAME QUESTIONS! twice.
    As much as I believe the census is a necessary evil of living in this country; I really don’t think such redundancy is required.
    Signed,
    Tired & Frustrated Nevadan

  68. James Polk says:

    I am a citizen that believes government should have a much smaller role in society than it does today. With that said I have no problem with the census as long as it it unobtrusive and does what the Constitution requires. That is counting the citizens.

  69. Paul Cubbage says:

    Wasn’t data also released after 9/11 although not as detailed as WWII?

  70. Paul Cubbage says:

    That was not the 2010 Decennial Census. It probably was the Statistical Office(?) that does sampling.

  71. Paul Cubbage says:

    Quoting the Constitution, “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.”
    I don’t see “No illegal alien or non citizen should be counted.” It says “persons”, not even residents. The Bureau used the test of where does someone usually sleep.

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