Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Another Public Service Announcement

From the Libertarian Party Site:

Boycott the Census!

Frequently Asked Questions about the Boycott the Census campaign

Why are you urging people to boycott the Census?

The U.S. Constitution says the purpose of the Census is to make an enumeration; that is, to take an accurate count of Americans for the purpose of apportioning Congressional districts.

But the federal government has gone far beyond that Constitutional mandate, and uses the Census to ask dozens of probing questions, such as the color of your skin, the number of toilets in your home, your disabilities, and even the number of cars you have.

In fact, the long form asks 53 questions, which is 52 more than the Constitution requires.

Libertarians believe that these questions violate your privacy and will be used as the basis for expanding the size, power and cost of government. So we're urging people to answer just one question: How many people live in your home?

Wasn't there a raging controversy over the Census in 2000?

Yes, the Libertarian Party led a similar campaign in 2000, causing a firestorm over protest over the intrusive questions. The Census Bureau got the message, loud and clear. But instead of eliminating the inappropriate questions, Census bureaucrats are trying to reduce the public outcry by changing the name of the long form and sending it out in waves, rather than all at once. The long form is now called the American Community Survey, and it will be sent to 250,000 households a month starting in January 2005, instead of sending all of them out in 2010.

Don't let them get away with this PR gimmick! Regardless of how and when they send out the forms, the problem remains the same: Nosy Census bureaucrats have no business asking all these questions. So strike a blow for freedom, privacy and responsible government by refusing to answer every question but one: How many people live in your home?

What are some of the specific questions?

Question 8 demands that you pigeonhole yourself into one of 15 "official" racial categories: White; Black; African American or Negro; American Indian or Alaskan Native; Asian Indian; Chinese; Filipino; Other Asian; Japanese; Korean; Vietnamese; Native Hawaiian; Guamanian or Chamorro; Samoan; Other Pacific Islander.

Question 17a asks if anyone in your home has any trouble "learning, remembering or concentrating."

Question 17b asks whether you have trouble "dressing, bathing or getting around in the home."

Question 24b asks how long it takes you to get to work, and Question 23a wants to know how you get there -- and there are an astounding 11 choices, including streetcar, bus, railroad, ferryboat, or taxicab!

Presumably the government will use this information to justify squandering billions of dollars on all sorts of boondoggles. In fact, a January 10 press release issued by the Census bureau says the data will be used to "allocate states' shares of more than $200 billion a year" in funding. Much of the data is also used by private companies to make marketing decisions, and is therefore a form of taxpayer-funded corporate welfare.

OK; I agree that the government has no business asking these questions. What's the solution?

We're suggesting that the Census Bureau replace the short form and the long form (the American Community Survey) with a one-question Census-On-A-Postcard. Click here to download the postcard. Then when you get your 53-question Census, send in the postcard instead!

What else can I do?

Forward this to a friend and ask them to participate.

Click here to contribute.

Is the media covering this issue?

Yes. Click here to read the Jan. 17 USA Today article on the growing controversy over the Census.

Of course, I advocate boycotting the census simply on general principles.

Until Next Time...

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