No countability

Article I, Section 2, of that document no one in Washington seems ever to have read:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States … according to their respective Numbers … The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years.

This is the Constitutional mandate of the Bureau of the Census. All the rest of this stuff is extraneous:

Received an envelope with frightening-looking shields and seals, urging “the person who resides at this address, not you personally” go and participate in Census questionnaire on their website. If I don’t, they said citing ## XX Article of YY US Law, I’ll be thrown in jail or charged a hefty penalty. It’s all for the greater good, they said — to let the government know where, in which community little children cry from hunger and which ethnic group in particular these crying children belong to.

This is the sort of thing that raised the ire of our old friend Nunya Bidness, who probably would have responded almost exactly this way:

I bet some govmint clerk will be a bit surprised to find West-African Chinese man of 85 and income of 250K, living in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, badly in need of hearing aid, guide dog and a life-supply of Prozac.

The point is not so much to put one over on the Feds — though they richly deserve it — as it is to make their figures (more) unreliable, comparable with, for instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which over the past six years has been turned into a propaganda mill, and not a good propaganda mill at that.


  1. Tatyana »

    4 August 2014 · 10:45 pm

    The point is to preserve anonymity under government hydra’s stare. I know, I know – it seems futile, what’s with IRS and NSA and the rest of abbreviated bloodsuckers.
    But taking into account famous discord between their various data banks (right hand..left hand..right…left) and the fact they seem do not know who exactly leaves at this address and that 85% of their questions are redundant since they have my tax returns for 22 yrs – I estimate there is still a chance for success.

  2. Roger Green »

    5 August 2014 · 3:05 am

    As someone who relies on the data from that survey – probably the American Community Survey – I do know that while the Census Bureau can get address info from, e.g., the USPS, it doesn’t work the other way around.

    Census was decennial until the business community complained about the paucity of data beyond every 10 years. One can write he’s a 85-y.o. Chinese man from Brooklyn, but 1) it’ll ill suit the societal need, 2) someone will probably flag it and call the respondent.

  3. McGehee »

    5 August 2014 · 7:38 am

    If the business community wants more data the the Constitution requires, the business community can gather the data themselves.

    They do anywsy.

  4. Trumwill »

    5 August 2014 · 9:45 am

    I agree with Roger Green. Though beyond what the businesses themselves want, I kind of want it for myself. I don’t think we can compel people to participate or be truthful, but I think we benefit in more tangible ways than the supposed invasion of privacy costs us, and more accurate information is better than fabricated answers.

  5. McGehee »

    5 August 2014 · 3:07 pm

    I object to being required by law to provide information to be used for commercial purposes. I will provide information as necessary to those I choose to do business with.

    Anybody else can kiss my ass.

  6. Roger Green »

    5 August 2014 · 3:14 pm

    Govt also uses it for building roads and schools. Just sayin’.

  7. Tatyana »

    6 August 2014 · 8:50 pm

    I don’t care what government uses it for. Ask me nicely, and maybe – but maybe – I’ll oblige. Most likely not, though: it doesn’t do to ask a woman her age and to ask anyone their income and address of employment.
    But coerce me under the threat of imprisonment – and you’ll get pack of lies.
    Don’t ask impertinent questions – don’t tell lies.

    Roger Green: call the respondent where?

  8. Roger Green »

    6 August 2014 · 9:10 pm

    At their home, if they have the number, Tatyana. The ACS has a three-pronged process: mail, phone, in-person visit, which obviously gets more expensive.

  9. Tatyana »

    8 August 2014 · 8:57 pm

    IF they have the telephone number surrendered to them by a stupid respondent…

    As to “in-home visit?” – I did not invite any official to my home. Have no intention to change this principle.

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