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01.31.2010 0

Count On A Nosy Government

  • On: 02/25/2010 10:32:56
  • In: Elections
  • By Michael Swartz

    Since 1790, every 10 years the federal government has come around to count every American in an effort to determine proportional representation. This is dictated by Article I, Section 2 of our Constitution and it’s one of the rare instances the Constitution has been rigidly followed throughout our 230-plus year history.

    In March, most households will receive a fairly short form intended to provide the information the government needs to determine these Congressional districts. (Others get a longer form which asks a number of questions about living situation, income, and other personal items.) In either case, though, respondents are asked about much more than the number of people living in their dwelling.

    Consider the 10-question short form most Americans will receive. While Question 1 seeks the essential information about how many occupy the subject’s residence, other questions on the short form ask about home ownership, gender, and race.

    More importantly, the government database being created also has name, age, date of birth, and telephone number. While the Census Bureau vows that the information collected will be kept secure, one has to wonder just how private this information will remain in an age of hackers and identity theft. Remember, none of this information is truly necessary to achieve the mandated purpose of determining population numbers for proportional representation.

    In truth, the Census facts and figures have grown to meet purposes far beyond the intentions of the Founding Fathers, just as the size and scope of the government they created has. According to the Census Bureau, the status of living arrangements is asked because the answers are, “used to administer housing programs and to inform planning decisions.” Similarly, the age and date of birth are used for, “forecasting the number of people eligible for Social Security or Medicare services,” and the gender question is asked because, “many federal programs must differentiate between males and females for funding, implementing, and evaluating their programs.”

    But even the obvious reason for the decennial count has fallen prey to overt discrimination on the part of bureaucrats in Washington, for it’s not Question 1 which determines the proper number of representatives to Congress per state, but Question 9.

    And what is Question 9? It asks the race of each person in the household, yet, “state governments use the data to determine congressional, state, and local voting districts.” So much for the colorblind society those in power claim they wish to create. Instead, these numbers are used to create monolithic voting districts which forever doom minorities to second-class status.

    The Census Bureau website claims that the count is necessary because, “(e)ach question helps to determine how more than $400 billion will be allocated to communities across the country.” Their radio spots talk about the need to respond because otherwise we’d not know if a school grew enough for new classrooms or if a town needed a traffic signal. They conveniently forget, though, that there’s other less intrusive measures to come up with the appropriate figures. As always, it becomes a question of following the money.

    It’s been said many times in several variants that, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” We see the results of pitting groups against one another – a weakening of freedom and an erosion of liberty.

    In response, we should call on our leaders to return the Census to the noble purpose for which it was intended and not continue using it as the wedge it’s become. While it’s not advisable to ignore the Census, we should think twice about just what information we share with Washington.

    Michael Swartz, an architect and writer who lives in rural Maryland, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.


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