Monday, March 22, 2010

Common census

I filled out my census form today. It's the third time I've done so, having previously spoken to a census taker in 2000 and filling out my family's form in 1990.

Yes, I filled out the census when I was 10. I asked my parents if I could, they said yes and they gave me the information. Among other things, it asked for detailed information on every resident in the house, annual income and even who in the household filled out the form. Even then, I wondered if the fact that a 10-year-old boy had filled out the form meant they were going to count it. I believe Louisiana lost a seat after the 1990 census, so I'm guessing maybe they didn't. Sorry.

Ten years later, I was home alone when a census taker came calling. She said we hadn't filled out our form, so she proceeded to ask me very noninvasive questions about how many people lived at our house, our ages, etc. More interesting is that 2000 was the year of the Really Invasive Census, in which select citizens got a detailed questionnaire on everything from their employment to how often a week they had sex. My grandparents received one of these forms, and my understanding was that they had agreed to do it. But they both died in 1999, so I kept it and only wish I'd brought it with me to Missouri so I could scan it for you. Maybe one of these days...

Despite much criticism, 2000 was the first time, I think ever, that more people answered the census than in the previous decade. I don't see how that's the case, but that's what they said at the time, and that's all good.

After filling out my form this year, which had assurances that this information is not accessible to anyone but the Census Bureau, I was almost disappointed at how little there was to say. I'm Ian. I'm white. I rent. Here's my phone number. Take that, Michele Bachmann!

Just like the tea parties protested government spending and higher taxes after being silent in the Bush years and after Obama lowered payroll and income taxes, this anti-census sentiment when it's asking less than ever seems moot. Just another poorly timed protest from a group of Obama critics who lost their compass years ago.

It's just too bad so many of them are deciding not to count.


NOLA Progressive said...

I know right? Even my mother-in-law who is uber Tea Partyish (yeah I'm using creative license with that one) was like "oh I filled it out for us all; they just wanted to know how many of us there were and if we were hispanic". Talk about your non-starter issues there.

Now we can sit back and watch them all go bat-shit crazy over the passage of HCR.

shoot 'em up rox said...

While I DO want healthcare reform, I don't agree that this bill is in the right direction. Mandating people to pay for insurance?! I am curious to see how it will pan out because I expect many people won't pay for it, or for the fee they incur in failing to, for that matter. So, I suppose this means that more people who are teetering on the poverty line will owe the government money..

Ian McGibboney said...

NOLA - I think when it comes down to it, most people are going to fill it out. Or if not most, then most of those who previously stood against it.

One of my black friends said that she objected to "Negro" being on the form. I also found that to be an odd inclusion. She said she checked "Hispanic" in protest. Heh.

Rox - Hi! Check out my health care post above this one if you haven't. There are waivers and subsidies for those who can't afford the mandate. I do agree, though, that it's a dubious idea, albeit one that resulted from the poisonous connotation of a public option.