The Census three-ring circus

The actual language in the Constitution of the United States regarding the census is short and sweet.  It’s located in Article I Section 2 of that magnificent document – an “actual enumeration shall be made .  .  .  every .  .  .  term of ten years.”  Every decade, the federal government is tasked with counting the number of people in the country.  Seems pretty simple; and especially considering the number of technological tools and the array of data bases available to government and businesses alike as we prepare for the 2010 “enumeration,” it would seem a fairly easy task to complete.

Not so.  The census has become big business.  In fact, it’s become a multi-billion dollar circus that gets more complex and expensive every time we undertake the task.  Problem is, every interest group out there, and every state, city, county, parish and other unit of government at every level, wants to skew the numbers in its favor in order to justify or qualify for more federal dollars.  This is leading to ever and more ludicrous schemes to find and count more and more people.

It’s reached the point at which we really ought to call it what it is – a television reality show in which contestants compete to “find” the largest number of “people” to fit into whatever category best suits their needs.  ACORN, of course, has mastered the drill; but they’re not the only ones by a long shot.  As reported in this Blog in September, the government has enlisted the PTA and school children to help in its efforts. 

The National Association of Latino Elected Officials, for example, is exploiting religion in an attempt to collect its “fair share” of people and dollars.  This particular group is distributing posters encouraging Latinos to register for the census, just as Joseph and Mary did as recounted in the Gospel.  Despite the controversy stirred up by invoking religion to promote a government-mandated census, the Leadership Council on Civil Rights reportedly is translating the “Mary and Joseph” posters into other languages, including Korean and Vietnamese. 

Next year’s census is expected to cost us taxpayers upwards of $15 billion, apart from the money non-government organizations will spend to encourage people to be counted.  However, for many organizations and government units, spending money now to reap a larger share of the hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars that will be distributed over the following decade in federal programs and benefits, makes a lot of sense.

With so much federal largess at stake, we can only anticipate that the games people play in order to inflate the census count will grow ever more imaginative and costly.  Spin the wheel!  Pick a door!  Make a deal!  It’s Census Time!

67 comments Add your comment

Dave R.

December 23rd, 2009
1:58 pm

Some of us have to go out and stimulate the economy with spending, so I’ll end this discussion for now. Feel free to ignore reality in my absence.

Dave R.

December 23rd, 2009
2:00 pm

I neither own a gun nor attend church regularly. The Constitution is NOT a living document, because it specifically didn’t address specific things during the 1700’s. The concepts of limited government and freedom are universal and unquestionable and are not subject to different times.

Ralph Cramden

December 23rd, 2009
2:01 pm

Bob you spoke of the cost of the Census. Check your facts. The cost is high because the Republicans sued and in 1999 the Supreme Court held that the decennial census must be an enumeration – a count. If we used statistics we could do this without a enumeration at all – it would cost nothing above what the Census already does as part of its statistical role and it would be more accurate. So if you do not like the circus then encourage your party to shut up when cheaper more efficient means are developed.

Here we go!

December 23rd, 2009
2:02 pm

DaveR how can you even be a human and say insurance companies should not have to accept people with preexisting conditions. Are you being paid to say that? Do you really believe insurance companies do not have to cover people with pre existing conditions? I can not think for one minute there would be a person on this earth that could be so evil to the needs to another human being. I am officially disguisted with you!

Mutts R Stupid

December 23rd, 2009
2:36 pm

Dear Here we go! – Why should I pay higher health insurance premiums to subsidize the diseased people out there with pre existing conditions? Let the diseased pay their fair share, and keep their dirty hands out of my pocket. If a person has been in the insurance pool all their life and develop an expensive disease, they should be allowed to stay. But letting the diseased buy in at cheap rates is outright theft from the rest of us.

Mutts R Stupid

December 23rd, 2009
2:39 pm

An enumeration census is a great time to issue a National Id Card, with both finger prints on the card and DNA extraction for future reference. Road side execution for all illegals….an idea whose time has come.

Chris Broe

December 23rd, 2009
3:09 pm

This healthcare reform bill is not affordable to poor americans like me. I make my living as a cashier, ($8/hr), and there’s just no way. If they criminalize non-participation, then I’m as good as convicted and imprisoned. In high school I was voted most likely to complain about the shephard’s pie.

My only chance is that the Democrats won’t be able to resist adding an eleventh-hour public option that will torpedo this bill.

Robert

December 23rd, 2009
3:21 pm

Can the Dems ever come up with just one good idea? The Dems are the worst group of people I have ever known. Even Dems don’t like Dems.

Just count the number of legal residents and be done with it.

Robert

December 23rd, 2009
3:24 pm

“DaveR how can you even be a human and say insurance companies should not have to accept people with preexisting conditions.”

Here we go……Beacuse dummy, Insurance Companies are a for profit business. Why would and Ins. Co. sell a policy for $300 a month when they know the insured will cost them $500 a month and cause the other policy holders to pay for someone elses policy?

Robert

December 23rd, 2009
3:26 pm

“The cost is high because the Republicans sued and in 1999 the Supreme Court held that the decennial census must be an enumeration – a count.”

Geez Ralph, read the Const. It says every person should be counted. It did not say that the Dems should invent some model to guess at the number. Are you that dense?

Robert

December 23rd, 2009
3:28 pm

“I have friends who are illegal immigrants who have no intention of participating.”

And they should not be counted. They are not US Citizens and have no rights to Representation just as I have no right to representation in Mexico, Germany, etc.

Jefferson

December 23rd, 2009
5:15 pm

It should be a head count – no demographics. Why don’t you run for congress?

Intown Lib

December 23rd, 2009
5:44 pm

Seriously, you get paid to write this stuff? How about you refocus on water wars. Those were the only really good articles I’ve seen out of you so far.

Chris Broe

December 23rd, 2009
6:27 pm

Santa could make use of an accurate census.

Chris Broe

December 24th, 2009
6:57 am

An Open Christmas Card to the Tea Party

The Baby Jesus is One Birther Movement
with whom I’d side
Today we can forego science improvement
and have a bipartisan yuletide

Merry Christmas, Born-again Birther Flat-earthers!

First Sergeant

December 24th, 2009
10:17 am

Here we go! and Corey, you all are spot-on. However, I’ve tried debating with people like Mutts R Stupid and Dave R., and it only frustrates you to learn that we have people in this country with such weird ideologies. What ever happened to “love thy neighbors”?

Dave R.

December 25th, 2009
9:39 am

I love my neighbors.

I just don’t want to pay their bills . . .