Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Math Teacher's Thoughts on the Census

Today is April 1, 2010, so I dutifully filled out my census form today and will mail it in the morning. Despite what the media and the U.S. Census Bureau tell me, I don't think I need to fill it out ahead of the official day—indeed, if some tragedy had befallen my family, say, two days ago, and I had already mailed in my form, it could have been inaccurate.

Two things really rub me the wrong way about the Census this year.

1. The Cost. It's outrageous. According to the NBC News (note: credibility warning), the U.S. Census Bureau is spending $14,000,000,000 for the decennial count. Think about this: That works out to about $45.60 per person (if we assume 307,000,000 people will be counted). That means the government is spending $273.60 just to count my family of six!

The commercials and advertising are excessive. The reminders that the census helps determine which communities most heavily contribute to future budget deficits add to the annoyance.

We can only imagine what healthcare will look like. And that happens more than once a decade.

2. The ridiculous efforts "to count everyone," while also ignoring whether those counted belong in this country at the moment, while assuring those counted that nothing "bad" will happen to them because the census data is confidential. This will give lopsided representation to those states with lots of illegal, countable immigrants, while denying it to states which have few. This is inconsistent with the intent of the Constitution and the census.

People who are not legally in this country, and people who are not citizens, should not be counted for the purposes of determining representation. And really, that's the purpose of the census, isn't it? Isn't it??

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