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January 5th, 2010
08:00 AM ET

Why not to avoid the census

Every ten years the government sets out to count every man, woman and child in America. So why should you not avoid the 2010 census? Our Christine Romans explains.


Filed under: Business
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Scott

    Back in the 2000 census, I applied to work for them, as I was unemployed at the time. I get a letter in the mail from them, claiming that I had a record with the FBI. How is that possible, when I have never had a felony, never been to prison and never been questioned by the FBI for any reason? Also, sometime later that year I inquired about any job openings and they lied saying they were not hiring any more census takers. Only to find out they were still posting ads or announcements for job openings even in the later months of 2000.

    I do not trust the census. They are liars...

    March 18, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  2. John Doe

    I don't ever remember the Federal Gov't wanting information on me for any good reason. This "new" info is designed to categorize everyone, so we can be targeted with more taxes, and fees...you'll see...

    March 15, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  3. Kevin

    CLH... your drivers license is not a federal document, it's a state document. Your Soc. Sec card doesn't have all that info on it. So far you're 0 for 2.

    Additionally, you never did justify them asking about RACE on the form.

    Sonia, I would suggest that it is our civic duty to question our government when we think it's becoming intrusive, not to follow along blindly when we're asked to comply.

    February 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  4. Sonia Vivar

    A tough call, this census thing. I thought about it and was debating whether or not I'd participate. Some may call it irresponsible, but how can I in good faith help secure funding for pork projects, wasteful spending and a complete desreguard for the needs of middle class.

    After much thinking on this subject, I decided, that reguardless of the irresponsibility of those we elected, it is my civil duty....but it was a hard call.

    February 19, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
  5. Kevin

    CLH... actually, I don't have an issue with writing my name, age and birthdate on the census form. I DO have an issue with writing my race on it. It's an offensive, intrusive and divisive question, and the Federal Govt should not be making policies based on race anyhow.

    February 17, 2010 at 9:43 am |
  6. CLH

    The Decenial Census does not ask for personal information other than name, age, sex and race. The primary purpose for the census is to count every man, woman and child living, legally or illegally, in the US. However, you cannot tell from name, age and sex if some one is here legally or illegally. The reason they want your name, age and sex is to make sure that each person is being counted only once. There are no questions asking for your national origin, your status as a resident, or your criminal history.
    The question was asked this morning if this could be done online, and the answer is probably not. Not only does a significant portion of the population not have access to computers or know how to use computers, but there is no way to verify things like handwriting on the computer. Quit trying to make things more difficult, write your name, age and birthdate on the form, fill the form out for your resident minor children and other household members, mail it in and deal with it. If you are that afraid of the federal government having your information, look at your drivers license and your social security card – guess what, they already know you exist!

    February 17, 2010 at 7:17 am |
  7. Kevin

    John Q, the only answer we have to give to stay true to the Constitution is how many people in our household, period. I have no problem answering that, and that alone. The govt has NO business asking anything else on that form, and we have no requirement to answer anything else on that form.

    And Gadflie, how do YOU know what would interest an identity thief? Are you one? Besides, that's not really the point. Why don't YOU get a grip, and stop pretending to be a Libertarian.

    February 14, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  8. Andy

    If the # of electoral college votes assigned to each state is based on the census, why not have a coordinated effort of Republicans in "Blue" states to ignore or deliberately lie on the census? A deliberate undercount. Think about it! Wouldn't it be a good thing for the GOP if a state like California actually lost votes in the electoral college and say a state like Utah gained votes? It would help the GOP in 2012.

    February 14, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  9. John Q Public

    For those who don't know(which seems to be all of you.

    The census is Constitutional Law.. You have to answer it, beside it directly effects congress and your States representation, not to mention the flow of federal money into said States...

    Just because its the cool thing to jump on the anti-gov bandwagon, take time to learn how your government actually works.

    February 14, 2010 at 5:02 am |
  10. Gadflie

    People, search for the form online and read it. There is NOTHING in it that would interest any identity thieves in the least. I understand distrusting the government (I'm a Libertarian), but honestly folks, get a grip.

    February 13, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
  11. Kevin

    I agree with everything Junie said, except that there is an additional issue which is that the Federal Govt is acting on authority which it really doesn't have. This is an ongoing problem that keeps growing into many areas, and is not a small issue by any means. We do not answer to them – they are supposed to answer to us. So many citizens have truly forgotten that.

    February 12, 2010 at 11:57 am |
  12. Junie

    It is the age of distrust and discontent with government brought to this place by 8 years of total non transparency and secrecy of deeds. Does not surprise me at all that it carries on now. I do not trust my own family let alone the government anymore. Personal information is out there everywhere for misuse, hacking, etc. not to mention the stupid people that display their personal lives on social networking sites. If you want to know how much is known about you out there, check out a mortgage application, a car loan app., medical and hospital admissions, insurance applications, even job apps and job websites, it is all out there and do you believe it isn't shared? I don't trust the census unless it is totally annonoymous.

    February 11, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
  13. Donna Hunter

    Nothing is secure anymore...period.
    Trust my Government? Even the Pentagon gets hacked...GEEZE!
    Identity Theft is just one of the new food groups.
    Not interested in becoming a victim.

    February 5, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  14. Nellie Bly

    Fill out the census. If you don't, you may lose political representation in your district because it looks like you don't need it by populous. And if you don't have representation in Congress, how will your birther nonsense be topic on the house floor?

    February 5, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  15. Amon

    I don't trust this govt no more than I trusted the prior fake govt of the past 8 years.

    February 2, 2010 at 9:10 am |
  16. Gadflie

    Kevin,
    There are no more long forms. None of the questions on this years form ask about income at all. The form itself is posted in many places online. Do a bit of research, it may be an interesting change of pace for you.
    As to the Constitution being the only federal law you are required to adhere to, there is no way that you can possibly be that stupid. Try taking a kidnapped child across state lines. That violated federal statutes. Think you wouldn't end up in federal prison if caught? Yet, the Constitution itself says nothing at all about kidnapping.

    January 29, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  17. Roberta

    Kevin, am I getting what? The government doesn't compel us to answer the Census they merely ask us to in a sometimes annoying manner. We don't go to jail if we refuse. And government aid programs based on need are not forced redistribution of wealth. It's merely the redistribution of money stolen from us by taxation without representation.

    January 25, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
  18. Kevin

    Gadfile:

    There are longforms that go to a portion of households that do ask about income and all kinds of other oddities, and on the rest there are offensive questions about race and other things.

    And because you apparently do not know, I will clarify... the Constitution is the ONLY Federal Law you are required to adhere to. All other "federal law" is bogus, and as far as most scholars, and as far as I'm concerned, are purely voluntary.

    January 25, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
  19. nancy

    they'll get how many live in my house and ~~ maybe ~~ my race, that's it.

    January 25, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
  20. Gadflie

    There are no questions about income on the Census. And, the Constitution does not "require" you to answer any specific questions at all, but federal law does.

    January 23, 2010 at 6:35 am |
  21. Terry

    My mother was a Genealogist and I recall her frustration at not being able to find information based on lack of census data. I also recall the law abiding Japanese Americans frustration that their US government used census data to track them down and send them to 'camps' during WWII.

    January 15, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  22. Kevin

    Roberta:

    Federal programs based on need, in other words, redistribution of wealth by force, is blatantly unConstitutional, and not everyone agrees with it, and collecting information for its implementation is an abuse of the original intent of the Census.

    While YOU may agree with it, that is why I support your giving the Census folks any info you want, on a voluntary basis. Are you getting it yet?

    January 11, 2010 at 11:14 am |
  23. Roberta

    If you don't answer income questions government programs based on need will not be forthcoming. The census has been around since the beginning of the U.S. I have answered census questions many times and no one has come for me. However, I have had opportunity to participate in government programs based on needs of a state or town.

    January 9, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  24. John

    Census forms still using the word "negro" are probably refering to the spanish color, black. So, if you are black and espanol that would be o.k.

    January 9, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  25. Kevin

    Zan, it's one thing to voluntarily put your personal info on a raffle form. And I agree with you it's not the smartest thing to do, but at least when free citizens do it, they do it by choice, of their own free will.

    It's a completely different matter to have our government come in and try to compel us to give them all kinds of personal information about ourselves and other family members – things that were never meant to be asked on census forms. It's an abuse of power, and a violation, and can only be allowed if citizens like you, who I'm sure are great people and perfectly intelligent, allow them to get away with it. And then what will they try to get away with next?

    But I'm not even talking about a "slippery slope" here. I truly have an issue with answering any questions on the census form other than about how many people in my household. And that's all the Constitution requires of me. And that's I'll they'll be getting.

    January 6, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
  26. Zan

    I am 45 years old and have never taken part in the Census! I would love to as I know how important it is for many reasons. I am a genealogist and it is really frustrating to not be able to find information. If you think that thousands of details about yourself is not in a hundred different places already, think again...don't you pay taxes every year, register your car, have health insurance and go to the doctor, etc.? Heck, I bet many of you fill out "raffle" forms with you name, address, financial status, household info, age, etc, at the mall with all sorts of other information just on the unlikely chance that you will "win" a car...Trust me if Uncle Sam wants to find you for nefarious reasons...he can! Stop being so peranoid!

    January 6, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  27. jason

    You people need a hobby

    January 6, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  28. jim

    if u trust this present fake government with ANYTHING u must be nutts!

    January 6, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  29. Ron

    I know a number of people who are afraid to put down on forms, like the census, that they live alone. So they always state that there are 2 people in the household. That way they won't be assaulted at night.
    Go figure! Actually maybe it does make sense. Maybe there are a lot less people in the United States than we think.

    January 6, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
  30. Kevin

    Just incredible – that there are still people out there, commenting on this board, that actually believe government employees, at ANY level, have accountability in anything! THEY DON'T.

    And there is no valid reason why the govt should be asking, and trying to compel, every household to divulge information about race, income and other personal issues. That is forbidden in the Bill of Rights. If some of you want to volunteer that info to the government, fine. Do it. I won't get in your way. But who the hell do you think you are, trying to force others to comply with an illegal act by the government??

    You people just don't get it.

    January 6, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
  31. Sgt. Coldwar

    The penalty for ONE piece of Personally-Identifiable-Information (PII) leaked or misused by census employees shall not exceed:

    $250,000 in fines and FIVE years' imprisonment.

    Those of you thinking that this information will be used by law enforcement PRIOR to the 72-year-confidentiality by law : rest easy.

    It's not worth the census workers jobs at ANY level. 2000 census data WAS attempted to be accesse by local law enforcement in Colorado – THEY WERE TURNED AWAY and a judge upheld the confidentiality.

    YOUR INFO IS SAFE.

    January 6, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  32. June

    I have lived for a 'few' years, raised 5 children, they all went to school, paid school and property taxes, worked most of my adult live, been a registerd voter and voted; all that good stuff AND have only received ONE census form which I DID fill out.. Of course that never prevented the IRS from finding me if they decided I owed them more money than I felt I did. Or from receiving my bills each month.......so bring on the census.

    January 6, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
  33. Jim

    The census seems like a perfect opportunity to identify and deport all illegal aliens. We need a politicians who are willing to enforce the law to get this to happen.

    January 6, 2010 at 11:45 am |
  34. Kevin

    If you trust the Federal Govt with all sorts of new, optional info about you and your family... THIS Federal Govt, to be responsible with it, to always use it appropriately, to guarantee its security... if you really believe all that, then you need your head examined.

    JD is exactly right. Americans have a duty to answer the one question only – about how many people are living in the home. Period.

    January 6, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  35. Jamie

    Kay,
    Sorry but you are pretty naive if you believe that!!!

    January 6, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  36. Kay

    I can't believe people get so upset about this. I have known people that went ballistic on the thought of answering the questions (2000), but are on Facebook with much more personal stuff. Get real, your private life is of importance to "The Government" only as part of statistics, they really don't care about you on a personal basis. Grow up and quit being so self-centered.

    January 6, 2010 at 8:45 am |
  37. JD

    There is only one answer that one should give when faced with the census: THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN THE HOUSE.

    Everything else is strictly optional. You are not obligated to divulge any financial information or ethnicity information. It's none of the government's business.

    Don't forget that the U.S. used census data to round up Japanese citizens during World War II.

    January 6, 2010 at 12:16 am |
  38. Robert Slaven

    I can only guess that those who say "Don't do the census!" have no clue what the census is and does. If you don't participate, you could be ripping your state off when it comes to federal program funding (usually based on poopulation), as well as representation in the House (which is why the constitution REQUIRES a census).

    Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:10 pm |
  39. Eric

    When researching my family history the most useful piece of information source is the census. I have come across so many obstructions due to the lack of submitted census information. The census is not released to the public until after 70 years. We owe it to our future generations to give all the family history we can provide to the census.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  40. John Waldrup

    when i fill out my census form should i count my mother who is in a nursing home with alzheimers.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
  41. David Reinhart

    You folks have no real concept just how hard it is to "connect all the dots". There are over half a million people on one watch list. Many (most) have non-English names. I've seen at least three different spellings/transliterations in the news for this guy from Dec. 25. Which one (if any) was he traveling under? How in the world do you write a computer program to reliably perform the sort of "it sounds like" matching that would be required?

    How good are the lists to begin with? Senator Edward Kennedy (the name on his passport & DL) was denied boarding a year or so ago because somebody named "Ted Kennedy" is on the watch list. That wasn't his legal name and he still got stopped. The wife of one of Alaska's senators got stopped because her name is Katherine Stevens and singer Kat Stevens (now a convert to Islam who uses an Arabic name) is on the list.

    This is *hard* folks and it's never going to be 100%, ever. Heck, if al Qaeda just wanted to shut down the U.S. air transport system all they'd have to is start a disinformation campaign that a dozen suicide bombers were going to use the alias of John Smith! Think of the havoc that would cause!

    January 5, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  42. ronvan

    Something this simple will turn into a major problem costing millions! If you are not doing anything illegal why would you not return the paperwork, or falsify it? And what will be done if they find out you did?

    January 5, 2010 at 9:55 am |