Talk about the census : LUSENET : like sands : One Thread

Did you return your census form in a timely manner? Do you feel it's an invasion of privacy? And why do you think my neighbor has been avoiding it?

-- Anonymous, July 12, 2000


Big Brother does suck. (maybe the house will catch fire though)

Survivor rocks.


"I suppose it's the same urge which prompts people to look at those Biore strips after pulling them off to see all the crap which used to be in their pores. ", that sounds like Gus


They've been looking for one of my neighbors as well. I don't care about the census much. I filled mine out, but just give me the 666 on the forehead and be done with it.

-- Anonymous, July 13, 2000

Wow, Cory, you're always the first person to post in my forum topics! But you know, if you want to talk about other stuff, you can always start a new topic!

-- Anonymous, July 13, 2000

I could be last, but it's more difficult.

-- Anonymous, July 13, 2000

I of course told the census drone (who actually stopped me while I was cutting the yard) all kinds of wonderful things... Made everything up. Created a whole family and a set of bio data just for the 2000 Census.

According to various ex-girlfriends, I already *have* a 666 on my forehead.

-- Anonymous, July 13, 2000

Re the census: We had been in our apt exactly 2 days when I, too, was accosted by a census "drone" (I loved that description)in search of info on an adjacent resident. I knew no one, had seen no one and quite voraciously told her so. She didn't care. Just to get rid of her, I too relented and created quite a bizarre persona for her to record. Makes you wonder just how accurate the census will be, doesn't it?

p.s. Announcing my status as a computer illiterate: what is spam?

-- Anonymous, July 13, 2000

Hey, don't you census liars know that what you did is is punishable by a $500 fine? You'd better hope that no law enforcement types read my forum.

But seriously, why would you want to lie on the census? Don't you think it's an important tool for determining how to appropriate resources and representation? Do you have any ideas for a better alternative?

-- Anonymous, July 13, 2000

Your neighbor is probably of the same kind as my boyfriend: wacky conspiracy theorists, unite!

He and I currently live with another person--our apartment is technically, this other person's house. So when we received our census form Steve (the other guy) promptly filled it out and left Tom and myself off of it. So, in the eyes of the good ole' U.S. of A, Tom and I don't exist. *sniff*

I have no problems with the Census. Good for the Census. Woohoo. Tom, however, is worried that it is not only a method to determine federal funding, but kind of a Big Brother approach to keeping tabs on who lives where, who has what, etc. You should just hear the arguments that arise over gun control and the Anthrax vaccine.

One of my friends is a Census "Drone". He thought it was pretty drony, too, and quit after about a month. People really do not want to answer those things. It's one thing to check at a house once and if you're ignored, to leave the residents in peace. It's another thing to hound and harrass that person's neighbors into surrendering information that truly isn't theirs to surrender. Plus, they kept sending him into very seedy neighborhoods to collect information. It was the worst job in the world and his superiors were very critical if he returned with no information. They're putting the heat on those Census drones, just to let you know. They would probably, if left to their own methods, prefer to leave you alone.

-- Anonymous, July 13, 2000

Isn't it illegal to refuse to respond to the census? One of my neighbors has been avoiding the census because she's a foreigner working in the U.S. and she told me she thinks the census is "used by telemarketers" and "only for people who pay taxes in the US". I'm not sure which bit of her misinformation I'm more frightened about. Admittedly, a portion of the information is made publically available and telemarketers COULD use it to determine population density in a neighborhood, but that's about it. As for her not paying taxes, that's an entirely different issue that's subject for another discussion entirely. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, her reluctance to fill out the form (and it's the short form, mind you), has meant a wortker from the census bureau has made about five or six trips to our building (usually during the day when no one's around, duh) to collect this woman's information. In order to prevent another visit from the census burau, and costing the rest of us (since she doesn't pay taxes anyways) any more expense, I toyed with the idea of filling out her form for her. Does anyone know how many people do you need for your own Congressional district? I'm pretty sure she's got enough living in her studio. ;)

-- Anonymous, July 13, 2000

In answer to your question, Rich, the page I linked above says that not answering your census is punishable by a $100 fine. I guess that means that lying on the census is five times as bad as not filling it out at all.

-- Anonymous, July 13, 2000

"...since I'm so special and unique and superior and all..." Now I know why the census form has a box labeled "Jennifer Wade" among the choices for ethnic groups.

-- Anonymous, July 13, 2000

My wife completed the form and sent it in this year. I hadn't realized she had until one day I grumbled something about how they were making such a big fuss about returning the census form and yet they never even sent us one and she said oh sure, I filled it out and sent it in weeks ago.

I'm not sure which version we got (one asks many more questions than the other)... I can remember my father being furious over the '80 census because he got that year's long version... Frankly, I do think the census quesions are nosey and intrusive... The Constitutional requirement is for a enumeration. Name, gender, age, marital status are reasonable related questions. Race is somewhat problematic. For generations the government assumed you could only be one race (and, funny, but "human" was not one of the options), so if your parents were of two different races, you had to pick just one to be... Now that they are willing to concede that people may have multiple ancestors, the political hacks are worried about how their particular little patronage empires will be affected... Anyway, other than those demographic questions, it is none of the damned government's business what my plumbing status might be, nor any of their other intrusive nosey inquisitiveness... there is no Constitutional requirement for most of the stuff they ask.... I don't care how useful the information might be to some bureaucrat or sociological researcher or direct mail marketing outfit, the government should not be forcing me under penalty of law to answer those questions.

Once upon a time, back in the mid-60's, I worked as a census taker... yes, I said mid... this town thought that it had gained in population and was willing to pay the cost of a special census because it thought it had gained enough population since the 1960 census that the potential increase population-based state and federal money they would receive made it worthwhile not to wait until the 1970 census. (Turned out that they were right.) Awful job. Seemed easy at first, nice day, just go door to door, ask questions, fill in the answers (this was just a count the people census-- name, gender, age -- none of those extra questions)... that was the easy part... then had to go back to those homes where nobody had been home... and then back again... not to mention those people who reacted with anger and bitching (why the hell are they taking a census now, damned waste of taxpayer money, now those bastards will raise our taxes, etc.) Hey, I'm just here trying to make a little better money than stocking shelves at Big Scott Double Discount Department Store. I did too, for the first few afternoons, but once I had to start doing callbacks my equivalent hourly pay dropped to less than minimum wage -- we were paid based on the count, not by the hour.


-- Anonymous, July 13, 2000


I think this is an excellent explanation of why you should fill out your census.

While some of the questions may seem intrusive, the reason why they ask about your plumbing is because of its impact on the sewer systems the government provides, and not because government employees are titillated by knowing that you pee in an outhouse.

It is my understanding that while some of the data are used by researchers, only questions providing data which are directly relevant to allocation of government resources are asked on the census. For this reason, I don't think it's unreasonable for the government to require you by law to fill out your census. After all, they require you to pay taxes, and the census is an equally vital component of maintaining government services (though I know some are also opposed to paying taxes).

The government could probably get this information in other ways, but a comprehensive census seems to be the most effective and inexpensive way to get a good idea of what the needs are. As a taxpayer, I think it would be crazy to be anything but supportive of this effort.

As for your constitutional argument, while it's true that it only describes the census as an enumeration, there are plenty of laws in this country which are not specifically listed in the constitution. It was not intended to be an all-inclusive legal code.

If you feel really strongly about it, though, nobody is really * required* to fill out the census. Just about anyone can afford the $100 fine if their beliefs are strong enough. Or they can try to take it to the Supreme Court and see whether they think the census is unconstitutional.

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2000

I never filled in my form, I lost it as I lose most of my mail. I guess they might have come 'round, but I'm certainly never home, so finally they called Cynthia and counted me that way. So which means that now, officially, I'm part of the Callahan Household. The crazy one in the flooded basement who doesn't mail back her census form.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2000


Yeah, I can understand the reasons why various interests have pushed to get their pet questions onto the census and probably some of them are even of value... I would suggest, however, that asking these questions of everybody in the country once every ten years is not a very cost-effective or efficient way of doing it... and, further, that it is obnoxiously intrusive. Yes, they have passed laws requiring this. Uh, do I really have to mention any number of laws that once governed our lives that have since been thrown out and which would horrify us today? And I don't know about California, but here in Rhode Island my township has a pretty good idea of who is connected to the town sewer system and who isn't... certainly my water and sewer bills arrive when expected... and if you want to put up a new house you need to see the town to get a building permit and meet all the building codes (including for your septic system if you are not in an area with sewer service)... I can't imagine the town government waiting to get a report from the census bureau in order to figure out the local plumbing situation. Other than the constitutional reason for a census -- for purposes of determining representation in Congress -- the main value in the census is not in all of those extra questions (and, quite seriously, a lot of that stuff is primarily of value for marketing purposes) but in passing out federal money. The king distributes his wealth to the peasants. What? We have no king with his own personal goldmines? Okay, so the federal money is our money, taken in taxes, with a huge slice of overhead staying in Washington to feed a bureaucracy, then apportioned out according to arcane formulas, partly based on "need" as determined by the census (and lots of other studies and politics) and partly based on political power held by various long-serving congress critters. Hey, we keep electing these crooked sleasebags so we can only blame ourselves... nevertheless, I retain my right to gripe about the stupid invasive none-of-their-damned-business questions... perhaps if they stuck with what they should be asking they would not have so many people ducking the census takers... and it would not cost so many billions and billions of dollars to do it.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2000

Lying on the census...? Well, to relieve the boredom. That's one answer. And to give yourself the kind of bio you've always wanted. (Ah, yes! Channeling the ghost of Walter Mitty!)

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2000

"Hey, they're just doing their jobs". The lovely city I live in, Chicago, gets to have one of it's most affluent areas re-census'd. Apparently most of the Lakeview and surrounding areas had a sudden upsurge in 'completed forms' in June - areas where they had previously met resistance. The reason? Most of the condos have doormen that wouldn't let the census takers into the building(s). I wonder what they'll try this time?

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ