Thursday, March 18, 2010

Count Me Out

If you know me, or even if you’ve just caught the blog with some regularity, you know that I hate repeating myself. I despise doing double work.

Well, folks, I’m a little annoyed that our government is asking me to – no, make that requiring me BY LAW – to do just that. And I’m not happy. And I think we all know that when I’m not happy with a company or in this case, the powers that be, I blog about it.
But first, the back story.

Most people got the 2010 U.S. Census form in the mail last week. We did, too. However, I couldn’t understand why as I had already filled this out and mailed it more than a month ago! And I even told THE CENSUS BUREAU GUY WHO CAME TO MY HOUSE just days later that yes, I’d returned it already.

Yes, that’s right. I filled out this incredibly detailed form (and in something of a delirium as I was suffering from a bug at the time) mailed it back and was awakened from a feverish stupor by someone beating the front door down. I stumbled to the door where I was greeted by a huge black man.

“Yes?” I croaked without unlocking the storm door. He introduced himself as someone from the U.S. Census Bureau. He flashed an ID and produced a business card. At this point, I opened the door and took the card.

“I already filled that thing out and mailed it back,” I said. “And I’ll tell you, I think that thing goes a little too far.”

He smiled and nodded. “We hear that a lot but there’s a reason for everything that’s asked. And we haven’t received your form.”

“Well, I mailed it already. That’s time in my life I can’t get back and I’m not about to go through all that again. Besides, I’m sick right now. So, do whatever you must.”

He thanks me but then says someone will be back if they don’t receive it. Fine. Whatever. I close the door and go back to being ill. That was five or six weeks ago. I thought that was the end of it. But then, the census form arrived last week. WTF?!

What I’ve learned is that while the form I filled out previously which is owned and marked as such as a product of the U.S. Census Bureau, it is NOT the census! Instead, it’s the American Community Survey. Now wait a minute … the WHAT?! The ACS, a previous “long form” version of the census form, being circulated to 3 million American households. Jeez. How lucky did we get? Look at this form and tell me that at least some of this information isn’t intrusive. Go on. And I’m a political liberal!

In the first place, $14 billion is a hell of a lot of money to spend just to count people. And in the second place, no wonder it costs so much when you’re sending out not one BUT TWO FORMS that ask some of the same information! Why can’t they just get the number of people off the form I ALREADY SENT THEM? It all supposedly went to the d*mn Census Bureau! And third, when the hell did SOME of that information become YOUR business?! I used to think the IRS was the most pain-in-the-*ss government agency. I guess not.

Apparently, I’m not the only person who questioned the legitimacy. Check out this headline.

I also found out that you are legally obligated to fill these things out. Really? Yep. And the fine associated with not doing so or doing so falsely just got raised from $200 to in excess of $5,000.
Well, I know we need to be counted. No argument there. But that other thing? I will NEVER EVER NEVER fill another one of those out again. Fine me. Jail me. Kill me. It ain’t gonna happen.

And if they didn’t get the one I already filled out? Tough.

No one is coming in my house and asking me those questions either. I mean, in this day and age, strange people coming in your home asking probing questions. Is that even smart?

Count me out.


Kate said...

Ahhh, so THAT'S what the long one is! My best friend got one awhile back & she has the same argument as you, why the he!! do they make you fill out another one when they already got WAY TOO MUCH information with the long one.

What got me was the "You're going to be getting a census form in the mail shortly" preview letter they sent out about 10 days ago. Really?? You have to send me mail to tell me I'm going to get more mail??

Vicki said...

Wow N, you sound a little Libertarian there!

Karen Anne said...

That form is really intrusive. I filled out the regular form, and it basically asks nothing.

As someone who's found old census records a gold mine for family history research, I have mixed feelings about the longer form. Also, they use this info to distribute federal funds to various areas.

On the regular form, you have to be sure the product id code shows on the envelope. Maybe you put the form in so it's hidden, and so the scanning stuff didn't register yours.

Anonymous said...