Friday, May 8, 2009

Census 2010

I got censured last week.

This is the first census I am actually aware of. Not sure what happened in 2000. I was around. Don't know if I was counted or not.

Actually, I'm not even sure I was counted this time either. Dude rings the doorbell. I open the door. Dude doesn't say anything but taps a few times at his tricorder. Then he says, "Almost done here. I'm just getting the coordinates of your home into my GPS for the census... Okay - all done." He then tears off a 'who was that weirdo at my house' information sheet from his pad and hands it to me.

"That's it?", I ask, wondering if they might also wish to know my age or race or how many people live in my home. Maybe my profession or income bracket.

"That's all there is to it. Thank you," as he walks away. I scan the horizon for snipers.

What in the world does the government want with a GPS lock on my front door? Is the hi-res aerial photograph of my house from four angles from 500 feet available for the world to see on Google not sufficient? Couldn't they have typed my address into Google Earth and simply pulled the latitude and longitude from there? Or better yet, to the entire country at one time with a free tool like

Can I expect a GPS-guided missile strike soon? Was that guy CIA? The CIA guys are always pretending to be landscaping crews or cable TV repairmen as they surveil the mission.

Here's what explains about the 2010 census:
  • The census is a count of everyone living in the United States every 10 years  (fine, I knew that)
  • The census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution  (ok)
  • The next census is in 2010  (cool - I'm done early)
  • Your participation in the census is required by law  (seems to agree with the 2nd bullet)
  • It takes less than 10 minutes to complete  (try 30 seconds)
  • Federal law protects the personal information you share during the census  (such as? I wasn't asked any questions and didn't share anything; but I'm happy to know that had I done so, the continued privacy of my personal information would be backed up by the full faith and confidence of our government, who has time and again proven it's trustworthiness beyond all doubt)
  • Census data are used to distribute Congressional seats to states, to make decisions about what community services to provide, and to distribute $300 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year  (seriously? that's $1,000 per U.S. resident! I'd love to see a breakdown of the civic/social benefits my family receives for our $5,000 share)
The census wasn't at all what I had expected.

Have you completed the census yet? Is my experience common? Should I be concerned?

1 comment:

Sierra said...

We had a census guy come to our house too. He did the same kind of thing, but when I asked if that was it, he said, "for now." They are doing the actual census next year. He said if someone comes to my house before this time next year and says they are doing the census stuff, to dismiss them forthwith (because they are likely trying to defraud me and steal my identity or some such scenario). I guess they are just doing the GPS thing as a preliminary step. Maybe it's part of the stimulus package. Get lots of folks working as census takers and make it take twice as long by going out more than once for information.