Red-state conservatives and the U.S. census

Thursday is the day on which many Americans will take a step back, survey the country they inhabit, and wonder how the hell we got here.

April 15 has become our anti-Fourth of July, a holiday dedicated to disdain for the federal government, many of the men and women who run it, and the annual bill required to keep it afloat. A day to mark liberty lost rather than revel in liberty won.

Because of the date and the deadline, the income tax will be celebrated today as the chief federal intrusion into our lives. But this year, we actually have a twofer.

We are in the final days of the federal push to have 2010 census forms completed so that we — by the end of this year — can be properly categorized by race, sex, age and congressional district.

The U.S. Census Bureau has targeted many easy-to-miss minorities: Hispanics, African-Americans, gays and lesbians, and the homeless.

But the bureau is also targeting another group: Suspicious, red-state conservatives who scoff at all the demands of the census man.

Tom Maloy is one. The retired business owner from west Cobb County is a member of the Georgia Tea Party, and will be in the crowd of anti-tax protesters at the state Capitol this evening.

He has mailed in his 10-question census form. But Maloy wouldn’t give Uncle Sam everything he asked for.

“The things I left off were my phone number and, in the spot that asked whether I’m Hispanic or what race I am, I just put down ‘American,’” Maloy said. “Those were about the only things I left out. I don’t care who knows how old I am.”

Others are more stingy. U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Athens), who carries a copy of the Constitution in his pocket, declared how many human beings lived in his household — and then sealed the envelope.

The congressman refused to answer questions about the sex and age of occupants, ancestry, or whether he lives in a rental or owns. “That’s none of their business,” Broun said in a recent phone interview.

“The Constitution requires the federal government to count the number of people in this country every 10 years,” the congressman said. “It doesn’t require them to ask a lot of personal information. People are very concerned about an invasion of privacy, and I have those same concerns.”

It is hard, perhaps impossible, to know how many people in Georgia are following Broun’s lead. The economy — the jobless can become hard-to-locate nomads — is likely to be a bigger factor in the failure by some to turn in census information, experts say.

But to help allay conservative concerns, here and elsewhere, the Census Bureau last week released a video of Karl Rove, the former aide to President George W. Bush, endorsing the census as “an instrument of democracy” created by James Madison.

Those 10 questions? “They’re almost the same ones that Madison helped write for the first census back in 1790,” Rove says.

Except for the demand for a phone number, of course. In case of questions, “that will save us the money of sending somebody out there,” said Pam Page-Bellis, an Atlanta spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau.

Broun isn’t the first member of Congress to express doubts about the U.S. census. Last summer, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) declared on TV that she wouldn’t fill out her form.

As a result, Bachmann received a visit from U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, the Republican from Coweta County. Westmoreland chairs the census task force for the House Republican caucus, and has become a kind of liaison between the GOP and federal census chief Robert Groves.

“Michele and I had a very good talk about the census,” Westmoreland said. “I tried to explain to her that having these meetings with Dr. Groves, and trying to make sure that he trusted us and our sincerity, about trying to help him do everything we could to get a good count — it just made us seem disingenuous to have one of our members saying, ‘Oh, no, don’t fill it out.’”

Westmoreland has become the man in charge of the conservative argument for census compliance. He notes that for every 1 percent of the U.S. population that doesn’t send in a census form, an extra $80 million will be spent to track down the missing.

“If you don’t fill it out, they’re going to send you another one. And if you don’t fill it out, they’re probably going to try to give you a phone call,” Westmoreland said. “If they don’t get you there, they’re going to come out to your house. If they don’t get you there, they’re going to interview your neighbors, probably.”

But the real argument for conservatives to complete the census is this: In case of an undercount, the census bureau will turn to “sampling and estimating,” Westmoreland said.

“They tried to do sampling in 2000, and, luckily, Bush won the White House and didn’t go for it,” he said. “We lose in the sampling, because sampling gives more credence to minorities or the homeless.”

And they, by and large, do not vote Republican.

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27 comments Add your comment

Jumbo G is the king of conventional thinking

April 14th, 2010
5:44 pm

Where they had the race option, I chose other and wrote in American. Not participating in this race deal anymore. They need to know that I live in GA and I am an American. Both in our household did the same.

ProgressivePeach.com

April 14th, 2010
6:14 pm

You just throw those census forms away, Red-State Republicans. Fewer congressmen and federal dollars for you and your constituents is more for Americans who actually obey the laws, don’t hate our democratic republican system of government, and support President Obama. Your whargarbl will be your undoing. Keep up the crazy, guys!

Red

April 14th, 2010
6:15 pm

Last I checked American was not a race but a nationality. When will backwards thinking people realize this has been asked for many decades? Even the very first census was personal. For the literalists on Constitution issues, it says essentially how Congress deems necessary. I admit many questions go way too far. But the outcry seems to be over the ones that have been asked for many decades now.

As for not sending anything in, as Westmoreland says, sampling will be used. This means more representation in “blue” areas and more tax money going to those areas. So what you are doing is handing Democrats over a greater voice in Congress and even more money to go into areas you typically have problems with. So I guess in some fit of rage you have no problems with willingly handing over money and the vote to those diametrically opposed to your thinking. Smart.

Cheryl

April 14th, 2010
6:52 pm

I know it was a big shock for that Secular Socialist, Most Radical President in US History ever, to come up with that communist document the Census! I just know he must have been sitting there in his red office, thinking up ways he could count the people and see how many he could throw in his prisons he is creating with his prison industrial complex, for not filling out his diabolical invention the Census. He must be some sort of devil or something to come up with something so evil….oh, what? You mean he DIDN’T invent the Census? Oh, ….well HE must have been the one to invent asking about race, and how many people live in your house, and whether or not you own your home or rent right? No? Oh, then he must be the first to think of asking for your phone number? Oh No? Oh, well, nevermind………..

Alabama Communist

April 14th, 2010
7:33 pm

A Communist Jesus once said! ” Pay your Ceasar Taxes and consider yourself lucky if he didn’t audit you”

A Tea Bagger Republican Jesus once said ” Don’t pay your Ceasar Taxes nor let him count you in his annual Ten yearl head count, but be prepare that he will audit your last donkey and goat and claim it is his with Temple interest.”

A Reserve Venus Greek Cult Worshiper Jesus once said ” Pay Ceasar his Tax and move to Costa Rica the first chance you get”

Dawgs88

April 14th, 2010
8:30 pm

ProgressivePeach.com, tale your liberal, commie, blue loving but somewhere else. We’ll see how much people agree with you lousy Dems in November! :)

YourHateMailWillBeGraded

April 14th, 2010
9:14 pm

Dawgs88, you are a primary example of why we need more funding for education. Can you point out your two spelling errors and one punctuation error to the rest of the class, please?

Legend of Len Barker

April 14th, 2010
9:42 pm

I wonder what Representative Broun did with the census forms he received in 2000, 1990, 1980, etc.

Were they not too probing then? Is it only because Broun is on the opposite side of the political spectrum that this is bad? Is it only because he wants to feed into the current insanity that’s all of a sudden declared that the current government is somehow worse than any other government and doesn’t deserve respect or even the slightest tinge of cooperation on anything whatsoever?

I have not received a census form this year. I’ll gladly turn it in if/when I get one. I have nothing to hide, no reason to be scared. Job applications ask for more personal information, plus they’re not under as tight of security.

If people are scared about their personal information becoming public, the individual census information won’t be released for decades. 1930 is the most recent release and that was two or three years ago. And it was just as personal as this year’s questions.

Nah. No paranoia now.

Cutty

April 14th, 2010
10:13 pm

What’s different from the census in 2000 and the one today? The questions are the same……. It appears that the person in the White House is the only difference. And watch how the tea baggers tomorrow yell and scream about the COnstitution. Knowing the racial makeup can help the government allocate better funding for cancer research, heart disease, and other medical issues to health departments and universities.

Just pull the hood out the coset and call it a day republicans. A lot of people would at least respect you more.

Cheryl

April 14th, 2010
10:24 pm

@ Alabama Communist…I really don’t believe that Jesus would have taken part in any red commie pinko census…..After all, he WAS a Conservative wasn’t he, healing all those folks for free….oh, wait one hot minute, wasn’t he born when his mom and (earthly dad) went to be counted in the Census and I guess so much for the conservative principles of no money, no healing…….. Oh, nevermind…….

Cheryl

April 14th, 2010
11:23 pm

I read somewhere that the south and mid west/west are doing fine on the census. The folks not returning the forms are those in big metropolitan centers. ooops. That’s gonna screw the left. how funny?

Pierce Randall

April 15th, 2010
12:59 am

A huge enough percentage of Americans turn in census forms that sampling would be pretty accurate. Westmoreland probably has an argument that a shift in the composite demographics of the groups primarily refusing to complete the census will make sampling harder, but I don’t think it will be so difficult–so, we have to sample, and we know how many mailers didn’t come from each district. We’d still allocate districts fairly evenly, and the amount of discretion that goes into when a state qualifies for additional representation would surely swamp whatever urban/rural biases come from sampling

Race only matters for social services and things like Title VI compliance, so if you don’t fill that out, we might think there are more minorities or people of low income based on sampling models. That matters to Lynn Westmoreland, perhaps, because then courts apply more scrutiny to Georgia under the Voting Rights Act, of which he is not a fan.

danthib

April 15th, 2010
1:18 am

I see, If I don’t fill out my census because I’m a backward rightwinger some “blue state” will get more money that our government doesn’t have but wants more from me anyway to pay for some government based service or entitlement today that my kids will have to pay at some time over the next 50 to 75 years plus interest and hyper inflation in order to reapportion maybe 25 congressional seats? Gee, brilliant folks…where’s my pencil?

Paddy O

April 15th, 2010
9:21 am

Its a friggin census – fill the 10 questions out and send it back. Being infantile about just shows how pathetically redneck moron you are. Are you not proud to be an AMerican? If one of you can go somewhere and not use a government provided service (like a paved road), then yeah, do your “country man can survive” imitation. But you would still be a pathetic redneck moron.

Paddy O

April 15th, 2010
9:24 am

The Bama commie has been smoking too much weed.

Aaron Burr V. Mexico

April 15th, 2010
9:41 am

Sherman had the right idea.

Mark

April 15th, 2010
11:04 am

Yeah, the last thing we want to do is give more credence to the homeless and minorities. WTF, Westmoreland, did you really just say that??

Joseph Copsey

April 15th, 2010
11:05 am

The age question on the census form lets areas know what to expect in coming years. Lots of youngsters? We need to build some schools. Lots of old folks? We need senior centers. The race question helps areas monitor the Voting Rights Act and anti-discrimination laws. The census serves real purposes.

dave

April 15th, 2010
11:20 am

“We lose in the sampling, because sampling gives more credence to minorities or the homeless.”

And they, by and large, do not vote Republican.

May the paranoia and cowardice of white hetero bigoted men forever cast them into minority status.

[...] Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) revealed that he refused to answer all the questions on the Census form and sent it back incomplete: U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Athens), who carries a copy of the Constitution in his pocket, declared [...]

danthib

April 15th, 2010
2:40 pm

Paddy O said, “Its a friggin census” as to minimize the simple act of filling out ten questions. Ok then, its just a “friggin protest” or a minor civil penalty payable of a fine of no more than $100.00. Some of us “unAmerican morons”, have “chosen” to do this because we believe the federal government and its leadership is unresponsive, arrogant, and stupid.

songbird

April 15th, 2010
3:22 pm

A lot of businesses use census demographic info as well to help us understand the demographic makeup of an area and what products/services make the most sense for each area. I look at demographic data nearly every day in my job.

Also, red states get more federal money back per dollar of federal taxes paid than blue states. It’s the blue states that are supporting the red states. Interesting isnt’ it.

10 Biggest Receivers
1. New Mexico $2.03
2. Mississippi $2.02
3. Alaska $1.84
4. Louisiana $1.78
5. West Virginia $1.76
6. North Dakota $1.68
7. Alabama $1.66
8. South Dakota $1.53
9. Kentucky $1.51
10. Virginia $1.51

10 Biggest Donators
1. New Jersey $0.61
2. Nevada $0.65
3. Connecticut $0.69
4. New Hampshire $0.71
5. Minnesota $0.72
6. Illinois $0.75
7. Delaware $0.77
8. California $0.78
9. New York $0.79
10. Colorado $0.81

Read more: http://www.city-data.com/forum/politics-other-controversies/624190-worst-10-states-federal-dollars-received.html#ixzz0lCMOLpGy

MM

April 15th, 2010
4:58 pm

Want to know who uses all that personal information that our conspiracy-addled fellow citizens are so zealously guarding? Well, I’ll come clean: it’s me. I’m a college professor. I teach U.S. Government. I download statistics from the Census Bureau all the time for my lectures. The data ends up in the PowerPoint presentations I show to college kids. Now my students know the racial makeup of Wyoming, compared to Georgia. Pretty scary, huh?

[...] In a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) revealed that he refused to answer all the questions on the Census form and sent it back incomplete: [...]

This is Mrs. Norman Maine

April 15th, 2010
8:14 pm

Let me guess: he voted YES for the Patriot Act.

Nick

April 15th, 2010
11:12 pm

“We lose in the sampling, because sampling gives more credence to minorities or the homeless.”

He actually said that? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the statement, but the lack of pushback on that kind of quote is astonishing. That’s bad reporting Mr. Galloway.

[...] In a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) revealed that he refused to answer all the questions on the Census form and sent it back incomplete: [...]