Got an email yesterday from my Congressman, Diana DeGette, imploring me to return my Census form. This is on the same day I returned from the Mountain Lair to find the second Census form delivered to Headquarters. (I had already sumitted my form; more on that in a second.) I called the 800 number and asked, Should I fill out another form? The brain scientist who represents one of the billions of new jobs saved or created replies from the script (paraphrasing):
The Census department has determined that to save millions of dollars, additional forms were sent to addresses of those from whom we’ve not yet heard back [clearly I’m paraphrasing, as this proper grammar would never have been written into the actual script]. If you’ve already submitted your Census form, you needn’t reply again and may discard this additional form.
Fortunately, the rocket surgeon got the irony after I pointed it out. Anyway, yes, I have replied to the Census, and so should you. It is Constitutional…Article 1, Section 2:
Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.
My emphasis added…although who knows? Perhaps they had bold back then? Their insistance in knowing your race, however, is pernicious and meddlesome. I followed Mark Kirkorian‘s advice and wrote in “American”. Eat that, CRD!
Okay, so back to the email: DeGette lists some FAQs in her email about the Census, and one of them is:
Q: Why do I need to fill out the questionnaire?
The answer contains a beautiful typo that couldn’t have been more apropos:
Filling out the questionnaire ensures statistics that will help many objectives. Some include funds allocated to our community or re-distribution to members of Congress in your state.
Clearly she meant to use the preposition “of” instead of “to“. But naturally, you’d have to forgive a Democratic Congressman who is so used to “re-distribution to members of Congress” for making that mistake.
All that distance for my point: Have you seen all the Census Bureau commercials? Every one of them is about getting “our community’s fair share of funds”. I haven’t seen one yet (I may have missed it if it’s out there) that has anything to do with the actual purpose of the Census: Reapportionment. It’s all about getting our hands into the Federal candy dish, and making sure we all “get our share”. Holy crap, is that what this formerly civic activity has come to? Forget about doing your part to allow for a correct counting…it’s all about getting your cut of the loot!
And what’s with the preposterous hypothetical questions? “How will we know how many busses/roads/lightrail stations/street lights/wood-peckers atop utility poles we need if we don’t know how many people are in our neighborhood?” Well, Einstein, how about you do it like any actually successful business would do it? By using marketing studies or other investigation. Tell you what, if all you’re doing to determine the demand for your “product” is simply counting the pulses in your vacinity, it’s no wonder you’re shutting down 1/6 of your delivery mechanism (likely not to coincide with cutting your prices by the same fraction, I imagine).
The attitude that goes into seeing the Census as both a money-grab and a target market analysis tells you all you need to know about the state of our Union these days.
Or am I just getting to be a crabby old man?
-Nick (ColoradoPatriot, from HQ)