American Morning

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November 3rd, 2009
06:00 AM ET

Battle of the census

By Carol Costello and Bob Ruff

Ever wonder why we have a census? The answer is right there in Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States:

"Representation and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers ... The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/03/census.art.jpg caption="The short form of the 2010 census has just 10 questions, but it is controversial."]

Monday, August 2, 1790 marked the start of the first census. It was then, and still is now, used to determine each state’s allocation of members in the House of Representatives. But as the country has grown from just under the 4 million people counted in that very first census, to the nearly 300,000,000 counted in 2000, so too has its uses. Today the census also helps determine how many federal dollars go to which states, and it gives agencies national social and health statistics that are used for policy purposes. And in addition to the short form that counts every American, there are longer, much more detailed forms that go out to smaller numbers of Americans each year.

The short form of the 2010 census has just 10 questions, but it is controversial.

Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann has been among the most vocal critics. She says the census questions represent government intrusion, such as Question 4 on the form: “What is your telephone number?” Bachmann told CNN she only plans to list the number of people in her household on her 2010 form because the Constitution doesn’t require any information beyond that.

CNN’s Carol Costello spoke with one census worker, who preferred to remain anonymous so that he could speak more freely, to see what kind of response he gets when he asks questions of people who share Rep. Bachmann’s privacy concerns.

“Carl”, the census worker, said he’s concerned that Bachmann’s objections reinforce the fear that some Americans already have about the census: “Some of them are pretty blunt.,” said “Carl.” “They say I’m not talking to you. I don’t want to have anything to do with the government. I’m not talking to you or anything. Get off my property or I’ll call the police.”

Feelings like that have led the Bureau of the Census to spend more than $300 million on advertising, including this highly-produced video.

“It should take every household ten minutes to fill out this form,” says Census Director Robert Groves. “That’s not a lot to ask once every 10 years. The questions are questions you’ve answered plenty of times. They’re not intrusive questions, so we need the participation of everyone and we’ve made it as simple as we can to try to garner that participation.”

As for the privacy concerns of Bachmann and others, Groves says they needn’t worry: “One of the things that everyone should know, especially people worried about privacy and their own safety, is that we have a law that is the infrastructure of the Census Bureau that will send me to prison for 5 years and give me a $250,000 fine if I release any personally identifiable data. This is a serious law.”

It’s a message “Carl,” the census worker hopes sinks in:

“Some people refuse to answer some of the questions we ask, like personal questions like birth date … It would be good if people understood that all the information that people provide is confidential.”


Filed under: Controversy
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. I work for the Govt and don't trust them

    I do not trust the government with any additional information. I work for the feds and don't trust that there won't be someone selling the information at some point. I'm also over 50 and have never, ever, not once received a census form. If they want to know anything about me, they already get my tax form every year. Can't they get it from there? I also absolutely do not trust census workers. They will not be welcome at my door. I don't believe they are doing much if any backgrounds on them.

    March 8, 2010 at 9:01 pm |
  2. BeenThere2000

    Census workers are routinely FIRED for violating the oath they take. That is NOT they same as saying they uphold the oath. Wake up! The smaller your community, the more likely your neighbors ("Census workers") are reading and discussing your answers.

    March 6, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
  3. Bill T

    Hey Mr. Government Man, I fill out multiple tax returns every year, Federal, State, Local, School and my income is in there. Get your numbers from the IRS. You want my phone number? Are you kidding me? So some felon you've hired to followup can call my house and ask me when I leave for work? Sure, my phone is 911. Call it all you want. You want my name and my kids names? They're on my tax return as well, get it from your buddies in the IRS. They know lots more about me than I want them to.

    March 2, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  4. Jackie

    The last time they did a census, I only put how many people in the household. I will only do so, this time too. And any other census in the future. It is supposed to be a census of how many people. Not how many toilets you have, or rooms in your house. Or time you go to work, and how long is your commute. They will get nothing from me except number of people in the household period. They did send census takers to my house, to ask other questions.. I told them no. They went away.

    February 7, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  5. George

    Ok..i get the whole phone number deal is that that critical. But why do they have to know when i leave my house everyday, ppl's pregnanices, employment history and moving histories, and how much i make?? These are just a few of the more intrusive questions. I like how they picked something like a phone number to represent the "intrusive" aspects of some of the census forms, when that is probably the least intrusive things they ask...

    December 15, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  6. Ellen

    One of the main reasons our forefathers started a revolution and went to war against England was because they were being taxed without representation. Just imagine, if England had been willing to conduct a Census in the American colonies and give the colonist representation we may have never gone to war!

    I'm sure there's always been those people who fear government knowledge and control. If those individuals choose not to participate in the Census, then they won't be represented. And a hundred years from now, when their descendants try to research their family history, they'll come to a dead end.

    Is America hurt by those who don't participate? Probably. Inaccurate accounting leads to reduced allocation of resources by federal, state and local governments. And I'm not talking about government handouts, I'm talking about basic services like the number of police and fire fighters budgeted for by state and local governments.

    However you look at it, we all lose when everyone isn't counted in the Census but biggest losers are the individuals who choose not to participate.

    November 6, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  7. Heather Lloyd

    Anyone who does family tree research could tell you that these questions have been the same since 1850.

    Age, Sex, and color of everyone in your house; Profession; Value of real estate owned; Place of birth; Length of Marriage; educational attainment; any Persons over 20 old who can't read/write? any who are deaf, dumb(mute), blind, insane, idiotic, pauper or convict?

    Our great grand parents answered these questions-the world didn't come to an end. seriously calm the hell down

    November 5, 2009 at 5:15 am |
  8. jim dale

    As someone who studies demographics for the retail industry I can tell you the census has been flawed during the decades spent ignoring the flood of illegal immigrants into this country. In known hispanic communities the census numbers severely underestimate the population and even the household counts. Someone in this country illegally is not going to fill out a government form stating they are even in this country not to mention illegally. Whether the question is asked or not is a moot point since in these circumstances many of the forms are not filled out accurately by people who have something to hide from the government.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  9. linda c

    If the government knows everything why do we even have to fill out this thing. Just another way they can spend money on checking and rechecking and rechecking. I will mark I am a citizen but somethings a bit embarassed to do so the why we left politicians run us around year after year.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:40 am |
  10. lake county indiana

    Thank you ryan, you have the revelation...amen

    November 3, 2009 at 7:51 pm |
  11. gene

    Just answer this!

    Why is it, when anything has to do with illegal imigrants, it becomes a front page news worthy poilitical hot potateo? And we do nothing about it? infact we sweep it under the rug? Who gave illegal imigrants constitutional rights?

    November 3, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  12. gene

    Census

    Some one tell me why, when it comes to asking, if your an illegal imigrant NOT OF THIS NATION, they do not fall under all the laws of this nation? Or do they hide behind groups in America are their to protect what they do not have the right to?

    I believe it's no different than the new law being voted on today, in Denver, Colorado, when if an illegal immigrant is caught without a drives license which is assumed to be 4 out of 10 drivers they not have their car impounded?

    This country better get it's head on straight! We keep on making mistakes.

    However,

    "Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes." quote Oscar Wilde.

    Now we have to own up to the mistakes.

    November 3, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  13. Mike B

    I'm fine with completing the census form. How else could the government allocate resources?

    November 3, 2009 at 9:57 am |
  14. Ralph Holder

    All ctizens need to protect their right of privacy against government intrusions. Once those rights are gone, there;s not getting them. Just say no or don't answer the questions that you feel uncomfortable with.

    November 3, 2009 at 9:52 am |
  15. Earnie Everidge

    If the Republican Party keeps pulling these idiotic stunts the general public has got to figure out thier obsessed with obstruction and uncooporation. Hopefully the country and the world will see it.

    November 3, 2009 at 8:58 am |
  16. Jo Ann Uhrynowski

    I will answer certain questions; however, I have a bigger question. Last summer I had a call from someone saying they were a census worker. They asked me question such as what kind of gifts I had bought in the last year, how much I spent on them, where I shop, etc.
    I thought these were strange questions. They said I would recieve another phone call at a later date to complete this census. In the past week, I have had messages left on my answering machine that said it was the United States Census calling and asking me to call back at 1-800-681-3010 and refer to T9399. I have not called and this seems rather strange and I am uncomfortable calling back after listening to your newcast. Is this legitimate?

    November 3, 2009 at 8:54 am |
  17. Ken

    It only show the ignorance of these right wing survialist nut jobs! Does anyone with any intelligence not know the if the government really wanted to misuse this information that they couldn't mine the data? The census establises a great deal of important information that is used by colleges, schools districts, charities and innumerable other valid service providers. WE gave up privacy when we started using credit cards. The private sector knows more about you than we can even imagine.
    Give it up be nice to the census takers and go on with your life!

    November 3, 2009 at 8:54 am |
  18. Earnie Everidge

    Figures that a Republican would deliberately screw the citizen's of her own state to try to hurt President Obama. Shows her intellect. I hope no republicans cooperate. Then those backwards states can stay in the back seat. I think all idiots need to hide during the census.

    November 3, 2009 at 8:52 am |
  19. Walter Levine

    All of the census information is very useful for many reasons. # people in the household, genders, ages, ethnicity ect.
    The census bureau needs to know how many Asians, Hispanics, ect. in an area. They don't need to know their names, only zip codes.

    Then I have no problem with the census.

    November 3, 2009 at 8:23 am |
  20. Ralph Holder

    On the broadcast this morning it was mentioned that the information is protected by the Privacy Act, which it is, and that there are civil and criminal penalties for unlawful disclosure. With the prosecutorial discretion of the U.S. Attorney's, no agency head or political appointee will be made to endure civil or criminal penalties. Confidential information on me was obtained by the U.S. Marshals Service under false pretenses and then given to NH state court officials whoml I sued for engaging in Institutional Racism for ordering my son to attend a persistently failing high poverty and high minority school in another state because of his African American heritage. The U.S. Attorney or the DOJ isn't going to prosecute the agents or the court officials. .

    November 3, 2009 at 8:19 am |
  21. Steve Beai

    Hey, Crazy People: For twelve bucks, I can subscribe to an Internet service that will provide all your personal information based on your IP address trail left by your postings here. "Home Invasions"...yeah, right. Don't you really mean, "scary black man is the President and I can't handle it?"

    November 3, 2009 at 8:16 am |
  22. Steve Beai

    Hey, "Constitutional Purists" - there was no such thing as telephones when this document was written. Nor was there electricity or automobiles. And I don't think "How many slaves do you own?" is a relevant question today. That's why the Constitution is referred to as a "living document". By the way, where was the distrust of the "scary Government" during the Bush Administration? If nothing else, the election of President Obama has brought all the uneducated, paranoid, delusional, prejudiced and hate-filled lunatics to public attention so the rest of us, which, by the way is the majority, can laugh at them.

    November 3, 2009 at 8:02 am |
  23. Mark

    Having a black president seems to make some Americans go carzy with bizarre actions. Now, all of a sudden the 2010 Census is a government probe into your our lives. The Census has been done for how long? How many Census have ask for phone numbers? The 2010 Census for some Americans can now become a conservative party political agenda item since we have a black president. I will guarentee that the next Tea Party Express Rally will have signs, speakers and more pertaining to the 2010 Census.

    Mark

    November 3, 2009 at 8:00 am |
  24. Steve

    The Census Form is not asking more than most surveys or e-mail account applications. I'm sure some people upset about giving their phone number to the government have given it to facebook.com and other web sites. A lot of people have had to turn to Census reports as a means to trace family history, so I think the more detailed the better. I also think that asking if someone is here legally or not should not be an issue, you are either legal and have no problem admitting to it, or breaking the law that our elected and appointed states men and women have sworn to uphold.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:59 am |
  25. Ellen

    I can't tell you how important the US Census reports have been in researching my family history. It's incredibly exciting to read the actual census reports online and see the names, ages and nationalities of family members living in the household at the time of the census. These reports are a real time glimpse into our history showing how we lived. My great great grandfather's occupation on a Census report was was listed as "Teamster". I had to look up what a teamster was because the only knowledge I had of a Teamster was that of a large union organization. I discovered a teamster in my great great grandfather's time was someone who drove a wagon and team of horses for hire.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:59 am |
  26. Seth

    Those who feel like there is some giant conspiracy within the Fed obviously have never worked inside it. Demographic questions are hardly invasive. The phone number is also readily available so it would likely also be for as they explained: to contact if the form was unreadible or incorrectly filled out. Bachmann’s statements show just how out of touch she is with reality. I'd predict that half the people hesitant to fill out their forms have tweeted or facebooked more personal information out there for much more public access.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:59 am |
  27. nancy

    They do not need my phone number for anything. I will give the number of people in my household, but that's it. The Constitution doesn't require any more than that.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:57 am |
  28. disgusted

    No more than a name! Right! Go to your local library and ask for the Dept of Census County and City Data Book. It is a huge publication that list every county and major city in the U.S. Probably 50 different categories of information concerning YOU and your neighbors. Want to know how many outhouses in your neighborhood? Check it out.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:54 am |
  29. AB

    I was a senior in high school during one of the census years. In our civics class, which was required for seniors, I can still remember the teacher telling us to have our parents participate in the census. "Some people are going to say the government has no business knowing some of the information on the form," he said. "Well, let me tell you, the government can find out anything it wants without you telling them. If they wanted to know the number of times a day you flush the toilet in your home, they could. So you might as well fill out the form, because the census is important."

    November 3, 2009 at 7:53 am |
  30. Willie

    I find it FUNNY; you say it's against the law to have any of the
    census data revealed in public. Yet, Grand Jury testimony is
    also supposed to be held in secret and it gets exposed to the
    public all the time.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  31. Brian E Tierney

    Perhaps if they gave every citizen $1.00 instead of spending $300 million on advertising they would have a better chance of getting completed forms.

    This is a missed golden opportunity to return some money to the people in these hardest of times.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  32. Gene

    I just heard you all talking about his on the show... I am actually interested in filling out a census for the first time (lived with parents in 2000). Besides not having a problem with the info it is asking for, I know how much old census documents have helped me in researching ancestors and want to do my part for future generations.

    I also think it is one of the few times our government gets to find out for sure how populations have shifted and grown throughout the country. This information is critical in ensuring that we are accurately represented.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:50 am |
  33. Bob Hawkins

    After quickly reviewing the questions, I did not perceive any to be overly invasive, although there seemed to be some unnecessary redundancy to provide the same names so many times. I could empathize why some individual's would not want to respond to the survey; I would if I had more than thee people living in my house. And, although I would provided my phone number, I don't really see how that is a mandatory response; perhaps it should be made optional.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:07 am |
  34. Kathy Robbins

    I do genealogy and census forms in the past asked many more questions than the 2010 form. Those who refuse to answer some of the questions or not fill the form out at all will result in losing their representation in government and contribute to the failure of our representatives to fulfill their Constitutional responsibilities. Our Founding Fathers must be rolling over in their graves wondering why they bothered to create this great nation.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:01 am |
  35. William Batten

    Any time you fill out forms for social services, taxes, sometimes even job applications..you are filling in basically the same information that the Census Bureau is asking. Granted, the census taker may be sitting in your living room asking the questions, I personally do not see the harm in it. There is more harm in ordering online or setting up a Twitter or Facebook account when it comes to privacy issues then there is taking a census.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:56 am |
  36. CM Noakes

    I just saw your piece on the upcoming census taking...you are missing a very important part of the equation....we have had several home invasions in this area and there is no way I am going to answer the door/let someone in my home if I don't know them.

    From time to time we have strangers come for many reasons, and often they will not state their business...they just want you to open the door. I will gladly answer the census, but why can't the forms be mailed to us? Seems like it would be less expensive, and certainly safer.
    CN/Atlanta

    November 3, 2009 at 6:55 am |
  37. John

    The constitution ONLY requires a count of numbers. It doesn't require any personal information, period.I find the census form intrusive and a violation of my privacy. The potential for the government to use the information, regardless of the added laws, is far to great and can't be trusted.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:54 am |
  38. AR

    The one piece of information that I don't care to give is "race" as it appears to be ambiguous. I'm not sure if race means where I was born, what culture I was raised in, or the color of my skin.

    The category "white" implies the color of your skin whereas "African-American" implies location of origin. What does a white person, born in South Africa, and now a citizen of the US check? Technically, they would be "White African-American", so they could check both boxes.

    I could go on with other examples, but I don't want to be greedy with this space. Thank you for providing this forum for feedback.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:51 am |
  39. dot

    I am so ashamed of Michelle Bachman! She is constantly embarassing us in MN. Because she takes such stupid positions on issues, she gets a lot of press.
    Of course we should fill out our census forms. It is the law, it is an American tradition. You cannot refuse to fill out the forms and then complain because your area does not get their share of the American pie.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:49 am |
  40. Steve Beai

    Funny how people cite the Constitution as precious when it suits their needs, then ignore the same document when it doesn't. The US Census assists in informed decisions regarding all manner of resources for all regions of the country. As for the "scary" Government knowing my phone number....judging by the number of robocalls people received during the election claming President Obama was a terrorist by groups of paranoid lunatics supported by Rep. Bachmann, I'd say they already know it.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  41. Jason

    I think if the federal government really wanted information on anyone in the general public they could get it, so people are just being paranoid. In fact it's insane for any normal taxpaying citizen to think the federal government or anyone in it would even care that much about their 9-5 life.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:46 am |
  42. Alex

    Your race is what you are, so it is important for the government to know if you want proper representation, your age is also important in order to allocate funds for different social programs and, finally, when it comes to the phone number I don’t think the federal government has any problem finding it out if they really want it. Anyway, you give it up in many stores and online applications every day to the private sector without any idea of what are they going to do with your information, so is it really a problem? This country needs to stop making fights out of insignificant things, be worried about health care reform and just fill out the form…

    November 3, 2009 at 6:44 am |
  43. Mike H

    This uproar from the right about sharing personal information with the Census Bureau is craziness. People provide more potentially harmful personal data every time they buy an airline ticket online or a book on Amazon than they are being asked to provide to our government as required by the Constitution. More of the same distracting anti-government hype from the right here. Let's focus on more important things, folks (and I mean you, Michele Bachmann)!

    November 3, 2009 at 6:42 am |
  44. Yuri

    I work in the Geographical Informational Sciences department. Thousands of people employed in my field are frequently asked not only by private orders but by government itself to provide and break down volumes of data associated with state, county and local questions that may be asked. That includes things ranging from providing fresh water supply to providing more police officers to establishing which areas need environmental clean up and everything in between. Everything that is being put on census gets trickled down to people who make decisions to help you live better. I have access to all that data but I do not have your personal information. All I have is a record of someone with no unique identifier. But that someone have provided invaluable information that helps government and private businesses.

    What boggles my mind is that people are worried to give their phone numbers? Are you serious? It is listed somewhere for free or for a fee and so is your mail address and so is the number of cars you drive and so is the amount of electricity you consume and so is number of children you have etc etc.
    Spend 10 minutes of your time and get it over with. Make my job easier.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:42 am |
  45. John C.

    The fines and penalties threatened by the Census Bureau are lies. Look up the laws like I did (USC 13, sect 22). I do not live in a police state and the Census Bureau has NO RIGHT to be questioning me about the things they ask in their survey. They give a bunch of fake reasons for needing the information, but they're not the real reasons they want it. Regardless, according to the Constitution, the government only has the right to COUNT THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE, not create dossiers on all of us ALA Nazi Germany. WAKE UP! America is losing its freedom. Your collusion with the government in your television report has destroyed all credibility for CNN. You're just a mouthpiece for the government. That my elected representatives have forgone their oath to DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION by not putting the binders on the Census Bureau's rape of our rights is outrageous.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:40 am |
  46. Kev

    Our civic duty ends with telling them that we are here. Period. They have no business asking any private information of any kind. And, "Questions that you get asked all the time"? Uhm... yes, lots of people want to know what my income is, what my phone number is, what kind of car I drive, or whether I like a particular political candidate. They also would love to know if I was thinking bad thoughts about the government so that they could stop everyone who thinks bad thoughts (you know, like big brother).

    I, therefore, will once again do exactly what I have done with all census forms I have ever gotten in the past. I fill in my name and my address and send it in. My phone number? HA! As if. I can, will, and DO refuse to answer any of the other questions. If they wanna sue me, let them. I'm sure there are 4000 lawyers who are just WAITING for that to happen and would defend me for free. Maybe they'll get some of the TARP money to fund that project.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:40 am |
  47. John DeWitt

    I am absolutely amazed by your male commentator's remark implying that those that don't answer their doors after dark are somehow acting in an irrational or peculiar manner. Why?

    As for the census taker that was the focus for the interview, I would not let anyone, let alone an older man, wearing a dark sweatshirt and blue jeans into my house if he said he was from the federal government either. In fact, I don't care if he said he was with the F.B.I., he is NOT getting into my house and no one in my family is releasing personal information.

    Invading one's property for this purpose is just plain wrong. A man's home is his castle. It deserves the respect of all, including the government. I suggest the government resort to other means if this census is so important to our national welfare and security. Better yet, take the savings they should realize from their census taking efforts and use it for a credit against the American homeowners' property taxes we continually incur from the government.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:40 am |
  48. Rebecca Snyder

    It is sad to hear that some people are so upset with the Census questions. Wasn't it the conservatives who violated civil liberties under the Bush Administration? Now some of these same people don't want the government to know their ethnicity or age. I can't help but think they will do anything to go against the current administration. Get over it and do your part to inform the United States about the people who live here!

    November 3, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  49. JessicaB

    People who "fear" the gov't knowing anything about them are idiots. They cheat their own districts by making insane assumptions about what the gov't is "really trying to do" with the information. I understand some people who are here illegally may fear the census, people who have done the wrong thing and may not want to be found... may fear the census. The rest? Why are people ignorant to what the census is used for? My only problem with the census was the fact it did not INCLUDE all nationalities/races that needed to be fixed. OUr president is mixed race. My daughter is mixed race. its a shame that the people fearing socialism are all hot under the collar right now. They are going to make a BIGGER deal against the census than ever before. and here walks in madam bachman – someone please vote her out next election!

    November 3, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  50. Ted Dushane

    I love Michelle Bachmann. She's somewhere in the 19th century: she's worried about giving out her *phone number.* Earth to Michele: the most confidential piece of data about you is your Social Security Number, which the government has to have to give you benefits!!!! As a progressive, I will give to her campaign next year – she is funnier than Leno and Letterman combined!

    November 3, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  51. Terrence

    The census is too intrusive. I only fill out the number of people in my household. When the government begins deciding how to divide money up based on race, income level, sex, etc... then it begins to discriminate. Our government bureaucracies are growing more and more powerful and that is an encroachment on our liberty. The intrusiveness of the census is only one small element in lost liberty concerns I have.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  52. William Tee

    I do not trust the government with my information. I understand and support the need for the census. It's the cornerstone of our existence as a nation. I will fill out the census, but I'd prefer to only provide the minimum information. I know you say it's unlawful for Census personnel to share or leak this information, but we don't do such a good job of holding our government accountable these days.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  53. Ryan

    People in America are ignorant. Its the truth. They think that everyone is out to get them.They think that they are informed about current events and the law. It seems that the Census Bureau needs to be escorted by a Federal agent and a copy of the Constitution with them and when someone states that they will call the police there is the officer right there. People need to calm down and stop thinking they are number one and that we as a group need to excel not them individually.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  54. Ron the Yooper

    I fully believe in the census and that information should be given freely without complaint because I believe in transparency.
    (Sorry for the slight snide remark 🙁

    November 3, 2009 at 6:37 am |
  55. Nancy Christie

    As a freelance writer and author, I have often relied on census stats to identify potential markets for my book and my services, find information that supports (or contradicts!) theories or statements from sources and, in general, give me the information I need to do my job. Accurate census information is important, but perhaps some of the questions (phone numbers, for example) are less necessary than number of people in households or age of residents. That being said, I hope the security measures in place to keep information confidential work better than some of the ones credit card companies have used–and hackers have defeated!

    November 3, 2009 at 6:37 am |
  56. Sam

    The Census is an absolute invasion of privacy. I will give the number in household but will stop there.

    If you really think anything you share with the Census will be protected you are naive. Recent history is full of "security breaches" by our goverenment.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:36 am |
  57. bkm

    I will simply answer how many people are in my home and THAT is ALL.
    Moreover that is all that i am required to answer. There is NO reason that they need the other informations, such as my phone number.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:36 am |
  58. Illinois lady

    We've lived in the same place since 1985 and we've never once received a census by mail, phone call or in person.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:35 am |
  59. Kathryn Baldwin

    ABSOLUTELY!!! This additional information not required by the Consitution is called CONTROL, just more of what the Government is doing in every aspect of our lives. WAKE UP AMERICA before it is too late.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:35 am |
  60. Brenda

    I imagine there are no people who are genealogists who are squawking over filling in the census forms. After 70 years, when these forms become eligible for the public to view, your grand and/or great grandchildren will appreciate finding you listed, will finally know what you did for a living, and possibly learn the names of their extended family. My great grandmother was the youngest of 10 children, I only knew her name, found the rest of her siblings through the census.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:35 am |
  61. Lucky7

    I am thinking of becoming a census worker, and I also think it is kind of intrusive, but I do not think you have to answer all of the questions. I, myself will not answer anything I feel is intrusive. I think income, sex, number of children, number of members in the household is fair, because it will help with social initiatives that may be necessary in certain communities. I live in NC, and the economy here is already over 10% so they need this information.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:35 am |
  62. Patricia

    My daughter served as a census worker and encountered many people who were very belligerent about answering questions about their incomes, especially. Others were very nice and apologized for "forgetting" to return their forms.

    With recent events with census workers, I wish them well and be safe.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:34 am |
  63. Justin

    First off, asking our phone number seems a little excessive at first but honestly, I see no real problem with telling the government something it already knows, or can easily obtain just by questioning the phone company.

    As for the other demographics that they ask about, I have no problem with these questions because they are rather useful for studying how people move within the nation and what sort of race/gender distrobution there is in the area, all of which can be rather interesting to see on paper.

    Honestly to everyone that says the census is too obtrusive, what are you trying to hide?

    November 3, 2009 at 6:34 am |
  64. MoneyedPoliticians

    Phone numbers No, but the cencus is otherwise a necessary effort.

    Jack
    Colgate, WI

    November 3, 2009 at 6:33 am |
  65. billy

    The constitution stats that everyone must be counted, it doesn,t say anything about your race or phone number. Why would they need that? Hmmm. I'll say how many live in my house, but will never fill out all the "extra" info requested by the goverment.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:33 am |
  66. Jared

    Not only don't I have a problem filling out the census form, but I'm looking forward to it. I finally have a place of my own and will be counted as my own household. As for Representative Bachmann, if she only fills out the number of people in her household and nothing else, I hope they throw the book at her. Her crazed rants on the census are one of the things that have led to the fear and anger surrounding the census in some people's minds.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:33 am |
  67. Joe Varvarovsky

    Anyone who listens to Michelle Bachmann has a screw loose in the first place.

    November 3, 2009 at 6:32 am |
  68. Eliza

    You should do your research. No one has filled out any forms yet or went door to door. The person you had your piece is not part of the Decennial Census. He is working other surveys, which is not part of the Decennial form. The only people who have went in the field as part of Decennial census were address canvassers, verifying geography!

    November 3, 2009 at 6:32 am |