Opinion

Census strikes a chord

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Had to mix up a bag of cement this morning. That and a couple

of threepenny nails, a few hours' labor and my mailbox is as good as new.

It got trashed this week. It wasn't from the punk teenagers playing

mailbox baseball, either. No, this damage was a gift from the federal government.

It was the delivery of our census form.

At 40 pages and fifty pounds it is the purest example of our

government at work I have ever seen. You want to know what the Feds are thinking?

Just look at one of these babies and you know what they care about.

Let's start with the letter they enclose with it. First you get the

threat, "…Law which…requires that you

answer these questions."

I can just hear the conversation at Leavenworth.

"Hey Man, what are you in for"?

"Me? I didn't fill out my census form."

In case the scare tactics don't work, they can always resort to

whining.

Then they cry: "The amount of money your

neighborhood receives depends on your answers." In the

first place, I almost never see a dime of federal money in my

neighborhood, too many grasping hands before it

gets to the Valley. If by some miracle this is how we get funding for our

social services, then, for census purposes I am a Native American, albino,

ex-POW, blind, lame, US citizen with twelve kids. Naw, I am kidding,

of course. I don't mind being honest, but this form pries too deep for no

reason I can figure.

In the introduction letter they swear, in bold type no less, that no

one will have access to the information on this form. I am sure that no other

government agency, like, say the IRS is interested in any of this

information. So does sarcasm come across in print?

Why do they need to know our income and how much our house

is worth? I am sure that the federal government can find out assessed

value from King County without having to ask me. We pay our taxes so they

know our income. Why do they need to know how much we pay in

insurance on our home? Or how much we pay in property taxes? All of this is

public record; why tie it to our names? I am sure I am being paranoid, but I

literally cannot fill out this form correctly without our accountant. That, in

my opinion, is going a little too far.

At the top of each section there is a little slogan to tell you why it is

so important for you to divulge every little secret about your lives. It is

to help everyone. I guess knowing how much I spent on electricity last

year helps … helps … well, let's see.

The government already knows the capacity of the electrical grid in the

nation. They can get the number of homes hooked up from the utilities.

Most electrical generation in this nation is publicly owned so all of the

records are available to anyone who asks, even if it's the federal government

asking. I cannot figure any of this out.

The politically correct race section is a whole other can of worms.

Who lobbied for this? Explain to me why there is a separate box for

Guamanian or Chamorro (?) but not for Italian? Or Irish? Oh wait, here it is!

Question ten … fill in whatever you want to

call yourself. It is the placating box.

I tell you what, if I were a Native American, I would be a little bent

out of shape. The federal government seems to want a racial head count,

but what good can come of asking what tribe people are from? Is this so

when the tribes have another fight with the grossly mismanaged Bureau of

Indian Affairs the BIA can tell them they don't deserve their own money

because the Fed's head count does not match the tribe's? OOH, I am a

cynical, cynical girl.

Hands down, the biggest problem with this census form is that the

bureaucrats in "Dee Cee" will believe every blessed answer you give. To

correctly fill this stupid thing out would take 20 hours. I do not know one

single person who is going to go back through their records and add up

every power bill. They will guess. And poorly. I still delude myself that I

can wear a size 12, when in reality, if I can wiggle into a 16, it is a miracle. Yet

if you ask me what size I am, my autopilot response is a 12. That is

how people will fill out the census, by guess and by golly, with their brains on

autopilot.

It serves them right if they get a bunch of garbage. How we

hopped from the constitutional requirement for a head count to assess House

seats, to asking for information on every detail of our lives, I do not know.

Our federal government spends a bundle every year on experts and studies.

If our lawmakers cannot do the footwork required to find this information

from existing accurate sources, then they should be ashamed of themselves

for calling themselves

"Representatives." How can anyone vote on laws

and policy using survey information? It is notoriously inaccurate.

Everyone knows that people make up the answers. Jeez, our Representatives

make up the answers when they are surveyed! Or at least they have a

staff member do it for them.

Well, I don't have a staff, so I have to fill this out alone. I will be

honest. But, I will tell them what the Constitution requires them to know. I

will give them a head count with ages and nothing more. Let them figure out

the rest. I have a mailbox to fix.

Kate Russell lives between Carnation and Duvall. You

can reach her at Katemo1@msn.com.

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