…But why would we want those people to move forward, anyway?
You’ve almost certainly seen the pro-census agitprop at every commercial break, telling us “We can’t move forward until you send it back.” You’ve probably seen the one, in particular, informing us that “we all” can’t know what “we” need without a census. Typical PSA, of course: lame, patronizingi attempt at “coolness,” including a sanitized hip-hop beat with what sounds like vocals by Up With People! It ranks right up there with the RIAA’s anti-“songlifting” propaganda and “Be cool–stay in school!” for unintentional hilarity, to anyone whose brain hasn’t already been destroyed by public education and TV.
The question is, who’s “we”? Are they carrying a friend in their pocket?
And golly, what if “we” really can’t get all the things “we” need? What if the local cops don’t get their share of funding for kevlar vests and tasers, so they can’t knock as many doors down in the middle of the night (and maybe kill someone like Katherine Johnson in “self-defense”) who’ve never committed an act of aggression in their lives? What if “we” can’t get “our” fair share of corporate welfare for the real estate developers? What if “we” can’t get our new subsidized freeway project that benefits the usual suspects (where I live it’s those same real estate developers, plus Tyson, Wal-Mart and J.B. Hunt)? The horror!
You’ll also notice, in the same agitprop, assurances that the form is “completely confidential.” Sure. Tell it to the Japanese-Americans who were rounded up in 1942, in part, thanks to the kindly assistance of the Census Bureau’s sharing results of the 1940 census. Your mama probably taught you years ago that anybody who buys something on the word of the person who wants to sell it to them is a damn fool. And this applies to government as much as anyone else. History is littered with the bodies of formerly free peoples who accepted government’s promises of how it would use the powers granted it.
I don’t encourage anyone to evade the census if it entails any serious risk or hassle — but if you can do so without either, then more power to you! I somehow managed to miss the census last time around (much to my chagrin), but this time I may not be so unlucky. You see a lot of helpful information out there about the penalties for census evasion — and more power to them, of course! — but unfortunately, deliberate census evasion is almost impossible to prove. Maybe you didn’t get the form, maybe you went out for a walk and left the car in your driveway, maybe you’re just hard of hearing and didn’t notice those good folks hammering on your door.
So it’s a good thing so many people are unaware that all those goodies for the local jackboots and corporate welfare piggies depend on a system that’s almost entirely impossible to enforce!
Also, just out of academic curiosity, I sort of wonder what the reaction would be at the Census Bureau and in the media if the Bureau got a barrage of anonymous letters (with copies sent to major press outlets) from people claiming to have filled in the wrong number of people in their house, or falsifying all the answers on the Long Form. Why, that would completely undermine public confidence in the validity of the numbers the Bureau winds up crunching! What’s worse, anyone scurrilous enough to do such a dastardly deed might send in numerous such letters, and nobody would be the wiser! I sure hope nobody does anything like that, because it would really screw things up for the government.