Boycott The Census:libertarian Release : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

March 2000

From the Director: Don't let the Census violate your privacy

BY STEVE DASBACH, LP National Director

Who among us can ever forget the image of a lone Chinese student -- standing in the path of a tank in Tiananmen Square -- standing up for liberty in the face of the immense power of the state?

Thankfully, most of us will probably never face a decision like the one faced by that student. We may never have to decide whether to put our lives at risk defending our liberty here in America.

But each of us has other opportunities to stand up for liberty. And while there is always risk involved when we defy the power of the state, those risks pale in comparison to those accepted by the founders of our country, and by those brave students in China.

This month, every Libertarian will have an opportunity to stand up to the state, and deliver a small blow for liberty when your 2000 Census form arrives in the mail.

Each of us can strike a blow for privacy, equality, and liberty by refusing to answer every question on the Census form except the one required by the Constitution: "How many people live in your home?"

The government is clearly worried that millions of Americans will refuse to answer their nosy Census questions. Already,the propaganda campaign has begun, as politicians bombard us with TV ads lecturing us to fulfill our "civic duty" and fully complete the Census form.

To which I say "Nonsense." Real Americans don't answer nosy Census questions, period.

The government is quick to tell us that results of the Census affect "power, money, group interests, civil rights; in short, who gets how much of what." And that's exactly what's wrong with the Census, and why we should boycott almost every question.

The U.S. Constitution says the purpose of the Census is to make an enumeration; that is, to take an accurate count of Americans for the purpose of apportioning Congressional districts.

But, as usual, the federal government has gone far beyond its Constitutional mandate, and plans to use the Census to ask dozens of probing questions.

* They want you to pigeonhole yourself into one or more of 15 "official" racial categories.

* They want to know whether you have any difficulty "dressing, bathing, or getting around the home."

* They want to know how long it takes you to get to work, and how you get there.

The form even includes nine income-related questions -- more than appear on the IRS's 1040 short form.

In fact, the long version of the Census contains a whopping 52 questions -- 51 more than the Constitution requires. And, each person in your household has to answer each question. That's over 200 questions for a family of four.

But it's not just the questions that are offensive but how the information will be used.

The information collected by the Census will be used to dole out an estimated $180 billion in taxpayers' money, to justify and expand wasteful government programs, and to allow the government to discriminate against Americans based on their racial or ethnic background.

In other words, Census information will be used to forge the chains that bind us to failed government programs,meddlesome bureaucracies, and a sky-high tax rate.

As Libertarians, we care about privacy, genuine equality, and old-fashioned American liberty. That's why it's our civic responsibility to just say "no" to nosy government bureaucrats.

We live in an information age. But the only information the government deserves on the Census, beyond the number of people living in each of our homes, is: "None of your business."

Of course, anyone of us who gives a "None of your business" response could face pressure and even a $100 fine from the Census Bureau. But isn't risking a $100 fine a small price to pay for making a principled stand for privacy and freedom?

Realistically, they probably aren't going to levy that fine. In fact, it would be a publicity bonanza for the LP if they did.

And we're already getting publicity by speaking out against the census. Our campaign has been mentioned in news stories about the census, and we've done almost two-dozen radio interviews on the subject since we issued a news release in January. Almost all of the hosts and callers on radio talk shows are supporting us and pledging to join the boycott.


Just kinda goes with the Freedom Fighters Gist.

-- capnfun (, March 11, 2000


As long they dont ask about my sex, religion, music or tv habits....Maybe my census will get blown away by the wind. How can they prove you even got's not registered mail, right?

-- INever451 (, March 11, 2000.

I don't plan to answer any of the questions, even though the Constitution does provide for the census to be done. Answering just the one question and not the rest is enough to be labled as a "trouble-maker" in some government computer somewhere. I just didn't get it in the mail. Oh well...must have been lost.

-- liu (, March 11, 2000.

Oh, come on you guys. If you've ever voted, driven a car, bought a car, had insurance, gone to the doctor, paid taxes, got born, got married, got unmarried, owned a house, taken out a loan, or had a traffic violation, bought a gun (legally) etc., etc., etc., then you're already in dozens of data bases. So what's the big deal about the census?

I'm a Libertarian, but this is a bit silly even for me. I haven't started wearing camo yet, or set the dogs on census takers.

-- gilda (, March 11, 2000.

Damn right! I'll risk a 100 dollar fine and answer just the one question. And so what if I end up a "malcontent"? Damned right too! I am malcontented!!

-- Uncle Deedah (, March 11, 2000.

I looked at the census site after I received advance letter last week,but did not see a sample census form there.

Was it there and overlooked? If not, is there a link to view the census form ?

-- george (, March 11, 2000.

Gilda is right folks! You cannot run. You cannot hide. Your entire history to this present moment is known in many data banks in many places. And don't you think this board alone is telling someone somewhere about you and your politics and your lifestyle? C'mon. Get Real.

-- Very (, March 11, 2000.

I've been mulling over many questions regarding the census. Not being a consitutional lawyer, I simply can't answer "how far should the census go?". But having been involved in local and county level government in elected positions, I can give you the benefit of my experience in how the census can impact you locally with one brief example:

Our regional school district has a school board comprised of representatives from all the sending municipalities. The 1990 census was performed very poorly in my town, and I'm willing to bet missed at least 500 to 1000 people for the following reasons:

My town is racially and economically mixed, and people at the lower end of the economic spectrum tend to ignore completing the census, just because it's a pain in the ass (watching "WWTBAM" is much more fun). Racial minorities tend to distrust *any* attempt to officially profile them, for obvious and (to the WASP majority) non-obvious reasons.

The end result of this "undercount" is not that my congressional district lost representation (in fact, the district is on the verge of gaining another seat), but that my TOWN lost a seat on the regional school board, and now has only two school board members. So, if the school district finds the need to raise the school tax levy, or impose a dress code, or teachers code of conduct, or curriculum modification, essentially my town has only a minority voice in any such decsion. It's not taxation without representation, but it's pretty darn close.

The census "raw count" itself is important. You can make your own decisions about the rest of the questions, and whether or not completing other demographic information is appropriate for you. I agree that most of the questions appear to be incredibly snoopy, even though I'm well aware of how some of this vital information is used (to the good) in determining local eligibility for state and federal government programs.

But I urge you to at least offer what appears to be the sole constitutional mandate (number of people living in your house), because it does impact you locally.

-- Nom (nom@de.plume), March 11, 2000.


Actually, my experience is the opposite of the idea expressed in this piece. It begins by assuming the following: more information collected equals more information available. This would be true in a world where all investigators had the luck, expertise and drive of a character in a Bond movie and where all software was bug-free and all computers were reliable [reliable computer has its own place in the oxymoronic hall of fame].

In real life, if someone asked the question, what do we know about Gilda [more realistically an SS number], they could retrieve everything. Yet, in my experience, that is not the case. Investigative questions approach the information from the bulk data side. They normally ask questions, something like, who drives a silver Mercedes. This question would flag 25% of the people in my area and, at least, that percentage in every yuppie complex in the country.

Yes, collecting more data may make it easier to see the forest, but more difficult to find any particular tree. Silly, sure, you are right about that one.

Best w

-- Z1X4Y7 (, March 11, 2000.

The form asks you a few questions on one page and then it has about 4 more pages, for extra people in your household. Since there was only two of us, we had to fill out very little. Now if you have ten people living at your house, it might take a little longer to fill out.

-- gilda (, March 11, 2000.


Gilda is right folks! You cannot run. You cannot hide. Your entire history to this present moment is known in many data banks in many places. "

But why make it that much easier for them to have all this info in ONE data base?

Sorry, I completely disagree with you on this Gilda. Big Brother stuff like that Census form doesn't appeal to me.

A question about this $100 fine. How can they realisticly inforce it, if the questions they ask are unconstitutional?

-- Chris (!@#$, March 11, 2000.


I ask that question also. WHERE does it say anywhere that if you do NOT answer all the questions that you'll be fined? Would you be fined if you LIED? [grin]

We received two of those queries with the envelope that did nothing because we have two folks living under one roof that don't share the same last name. WHO fills out the answer regarding how many people live in the house?


-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 11, 2000.

Nope-not gonna do it-I will answer the one question and that is it.

Bring on the fine!

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), March 11, 2000.


Funny thing is we received the letter with a 1 in front of the address and an envelope which was to be used if we spoke languages that we don't. The envelope was sealed and totally useless.

We were told that the forms would be hand delivered. I guess that means we will get the long form again [as we always do]. I'm not sure why we always get it, but who cares. Someone already knows anything that I can give them.

Best wishes,,,,,,

-- Z1X4Y7 (, March 11, 2000.

I recieved the actual form today, Form D-2. Wow! talk about invasive questions, a COMPLETE profile of each individual in the household.

Although Kenneth Prewitt in his attached letter states:

"Your privacy is protected by law (Title 13 of the United States Code), which also requires that you answer these questions. That law ensures that your information is only used for statistical purposes and that no unauthorized person can see your form or find out what you tell us - no other government agency, no court of law, NO ONE."

It would be all to well convenient for the government to have all this information on every citizen/resident of the USA in one database. "No unauthorized person can see your form", means what? That EVERY person and/or gov. agency deemed AUTHORIZED by same government can see your form. Duh.

Knowlege is power, indeed.

I don't see anywhere a reference to penalties if one refuses to answer all the questions.

-- Chris (!@#$, March 13, 2000.

Hi., got ours today also...seems to me I remember last time that they also sent 'census takers' ie..humans to go door to door as well. I ditto the comment on decisions, decisions, my son is now residing with me, but his dad and I do the shared parent thing, so who gets to answer the question? What a bunch of hooey... so lemme get it right if I answer he lives with me and his dad answers the same, then what? I also have heard it is VERY important to answer as it helps to get proper funding for our city, anyone care to elaborate? I know one thing our city needs all the help it can get...

-- consumer (, March 13, 2000.

Just many of you received the long forms and are recent (since NICS) firearms purchasers. So far two other friends of mine who fit that category got the long form. Made me go hmmmm...


-- TECH32 (TECH32@NOMAIL.CON), March 15, 2000.


We got BOTH the long and short forms. No gun-owners here.

Regarding the son who lives in both places, the form gives a particular date to be used for the count. If that's your day, include your son. If not, don't.

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 15, 2000.

Is form D-2 the long form? I didn't know there were a long and a short version. What's the reason behind this?

-- Chris (!@#$, March 15, 2000.

BTW Tech, we don't own guns.

-- Chris (!@#$, March 15, 2000.

Yes, Chris. D-1 is the short form and D-2 is the long form. Since we received two letters with the envelopes that did nothing, we received two census forms as well. I can't explain why one is D-1 and the other D-2. I suspect the mailing of one or the other was desultory.

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 15, 2000.

Gilda, consider yourself lucky. Not having seen the long form, you can't appreciate what those of us are up against. 38 pages. 53 questions for Person 1. I will not be filling out any questions beyond those asked in the short form. If the additional information is public knowledge anyway, then they don't need me to provide it.

-- Brooks (, March 15, 2000.

Anita, shame on you, you made me look in the dictionary for "desultory" ;-)

" 1:marked by lack of definite plan, regularity, or purpose".

If you mean it in that sense, I can't agree with that. There's gotta be a reason why they made up a long and a short form. Perhaps though, the reason some get a short one and some get a long one, is desultory, or random.

"2:disappointing in progress or performance"

If you mean it in that sense, then that would be consistent with the government ;-)

Another question; how many questions are on the short form, and what do they mainly consist of?

-- Chris (!@#$, March 15, 2000.

In follow-up to Chris' question, could some provide EXACTLY which questions are on the short form? And, no, no firearms in this household.

-- Brooks (, March 15, 2000.


LOL,I had to look it up as well,so don't feel bad.

I decided to look up what the constitution states and will only answer the bare minimum ie. how many people live at this residence.No name,no nothing,just the number in household.


Did you recieve both forms at the same time?

-- capnfun (, March 15, 2000.


I was going to use the word random, but when I checked, it didn't quite impart what I wanted to say. Random implies more of a "having no plan...a mistake" sortof thing, where desultory implies more the eenie-meenie-meinie-moe sortof randomness.

Yes...we received both forms on the same day.

Rather than type the list of questions from the short form versus the long form, you MAY get the information necessary by looking at Title 13 of the US Code: Title 13 of the US Code

Personally, I was interested in the penalties for not answering all the questions when I went there and found something in Chapter 7 that said $100 for not filling out all the questions and $500 for lying. Of course Chapter 7 referred me to another link which I didn't understand at all. I also checked to see if there were any updates to Title 13 and it seems there have been none. It seems to me there WAS something regarding the forms, but if there isn't, I'm sure SOMEONE will be happy to type in all the questions from either the short form or the long form.

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 15, 2000.

Seems I screwed up the link.

Title 13 of US Code

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 15, 2000.

Anita, thanks for the link. Gosh I hate legaleese, but its worth scrutinizing it here a bit closer.

Looking at your link for 5 minutes I found this section under Chapter 5:

Sec. 163. Authority of other agencies

This subchapter does not revoke or impair the authority of any other Federal agency with respect to the collection or release of information. And then this footnote in Chapter 5:

[1] Item 163 editorially inserted because section 163 is still in existence. Item 163 was eliminated in the general amendment of analysis by Pub. L. 85-207, Sec. 7, Aug. 28, 1957, 71 Stat. 482.

Which seems to suggest that Kenetth Prewitt is misleading us in his attached letter to the forms, from his statement I quoted above in an earlier post. Looks to me from this section that any gov. agency is authorized to use and RELEASE the information gathered from the census survey.

Goint back to read some more.

-- Chris (!@#$, March 15, 2000.

More information on the forms, etc. can be obtained at Official Census Help Site

On another site I found that 1 in 6 got the long form. It was pretty much a site that helped censor-takers answer questions folks had. The format is awful, but if you're interested: Questions and how to answer them.

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 15, 2000.

Also just found this:

Sec. 132. Controlling law; effect on other agencies

To the extent that the provisions of this subchapter or subchapter IV of this chapter conflict with any other provision of this title or other law, pertaining to the Secretary of the Department of Commerce, the provisions of this title shall control; but nothing in this title shall be deemed to revoke or impair the authority of any other Federal agency with respect to the collection or release of information.

-- Chris (!@#$, March 15, 2000.

Anita, thanks for the link. I also checked a hard copy.

The relevant language (13 USC s.141) appears to be... "The Secretary shall, in the year 1980 and every 10 years thereafter, take a decennial census of population as of the first day of April of such year . . . In connection with any such census, the Secretary is authorized to obtain such other census information as necessary." That's pretty open-ended. I don't see anything about specific questions.

13 USC s.221: Refusal or willful neglect to answer any of the questions is subject to a fine of not more than $100. Willfully giving false answer is subject to a fine of not more than $500. Not clear to me if either offense is considered a misdemeamor (they may be). No person may be compelled to disclose information relative to his religious beliefs or to membership in a religious body.

U.S. v. Little, D.C.Del.1970, 317 F.Supp. 1308. The refusal or wilful neglect to answer any question is considered a separate violation for each unanswered question.

Also, case law relating to selective successful prosecution of a "defendant, who had participated in a census resistance movement, publicizing a dissident view of census as an unconnstitutional invasion of privacy". U.S. v. Rickenbacker, C.A.N.Y.1962 309 F.2d 462, certiorari denied 83 S.Ct. 542, 371 U.S. 962, 9 L.Ed.2d 509.

Doesn't look good for us libertarian wannabees.

Still doesn't get to the question of what the actual questions on the short form are. Anybody??

-- Brooks (, March 15, 2000.

This topic is a bunch of malarkey. I read the questions and there are only a few about race and gender. BFD.

You budding libertarians should focus on a real issue, like the war on drugs for instance.

-- BFD (@ .), March 15, 2000.

I'll give the questions on the short form, Brooks [since it's SHORT.] The explanations can be gotten from the link to the census bureau site that I just provided.

1. How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2000?

2. Is this house, apartment, or mobile home - then you check a box about who owned it or if it was rented for cash or occupied without payment of cash rent.

3. Please answer the following questions for each person living in this house, apartment, or mobile home. Start with the name of one of the people living here who owns, is buying, or rents this...blah blah.

What is this person's name? Last........then first.

4. What is Person 1's telephone number?

5. What is Person 1's sex?

6. What is person 1's age and what is Person 1's date of birth?

NOTE: Please answer BOTH questions 7 and 8.

7. Is Person 1 Spanish/Hispanic/Latino? Boxes again for different types.

8. What is Person 1's race? You can check multiple boxes.

then the form goes on to Person 2 through 6.

1. What is Person 2's name?

2. Hos is this person related to Person 1? [bunches of boxes to check there.]

3. What is this person's sex?

4. What is this person's age and what is this person's date of birth?

NOTE: Please answer BOTH questions 5 and 6.

5. Is this person Spanish, blah blah...same as on person 1.

6. What is this person's race? same as on person 1.

The same questions are asked for persons 2 through 6. They care less about persons 7 through 12, only asking fir last and first name.


-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 15, 2000.

BFD - WHICH census form have you seen? WHAT were the specific questions? WHAT does congressional redistricting have to do with how many toilets I have or whether everyone in my household can reach the top shelf of the cabinets??? Race and gender questions I don't mind answering.

-- Brooks (, March 15, 2000.

Questions on short form:


1. Number of people in household.

2. Is this house,apt,mobile home?

3. Name(s)

4. Telephone #

5. Person #1's sex

6. Person #1's DOB

7. Spanish,Hispanic,Latino,mixed, little boxes for No not spanish,Yes Mexican,Mexican Am,Chicano (too hard to explain fully)

8. What is person #1's race?


Continues on to person(s) 2-6

Last page person(s) 7-12


Seems somewhat limited compared to the long form.

-- capnfun (, March 15, 2000.

Anita, thank you so much!

-- Brooks (, March 15, 2000.


We have focused on the "phoney" war on drugs.

-- capnfun (, March 15, 2000.

Ok, after 20 minutes looking at the legaleese, here's what I understand. (Since legaleese is confusing to me, I hope someone more knowledgable, better yet a lawyer, can either validate or correct my understanding.) My comments are in italics.

ec. 221. Refusal or neglect to answer questions; false answers

(a) Whoever, being over eighteen years of age, refuses or willfully neglects, when requested by the Secretary, or by any other authorized officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof acting under the instructions of the Secretary or authorized officer, to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of the questions on any schedule submitted to him in connection with any census or survey provided for by subchapters I, II, IV, and V of chapter 5 of this title,

My translation; Anyone over 18 who was sent a census form is required to answer to the best of his/her knowledge, and not deliberately lie, the questions in the form IF they fall into the criterias of subchaters I, II, IV and V or Chapter 5. Now a look at those subchaters indicate to me that the individual citizen falls under subchater II POPULATION, HOUSING, AND UNEMPLOYMENT, not under the entire umbrella of Chapter 5 (the last paragraph states:As used in this section, ''census of population'' means a census of population, housing, and matters relating to population and housing. ). Subchapter I deals with Industries, for example. Reading subsection II, I don't find anything that says or would infer that citizens must answer survey questions. It talks about the census' purpose and gov. responsibilities for the apportionment of Representatives in Congress, district apportionment etc.

...applying to himself or to the family to which he belongs or is related, or to the farm or farms of which he or his family is the occupant, shall be fined not more than $100.

So why this sentence? I think it's there on purpose to muddy the issue, the more people are confused, the more "compliance" from citizens they'll get. In my non-legal-expert-humble-opinion.

-- Chris (!@#$, March 15, 2000.

Sheesh, I got the shorty version, went to my sisters last nite and she got the long one...they even want to know if she has a 2nd mtg on her home, I dont get 'it'. Yes, agreed, pretty much ALL is public these days, but why are they asking questions like that?

===consumer... who is glad i got the shorty.

-- consumer (, March 15, 2000.


Thanks for the statute info. The problem is that the Constitution GRANTS Congress the authority to exist and Congress cannot exceed that authority simply by passing a law. Put another way, the Constitution specifically states the purpose of the Census is to enumerate Americas Citizens. No where does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to require more than this nor can they grant this to themselves.


-- TECH32 (TECH32@NOMAIL.CON), March 15, 2000.


For being so succinct.

-- capnfun (, March 15, 2000.

Thanks for listing the short form's questions Anita. That all this makes a bit more sense to me. The legaleese above, and my interpretation of it, would make sense for the short form; i.e., required to answer those questions.

Still, I find a couple questions in the short form unnecessary, such as Person's name and phone numbers. (So they can call us and ask questions over the phone?)

BED, I was sent the LONG form, and I have no desire to spend 30+ minutes answering those prying questions, which are worse than marketting long surveys. Libetarian or not, anyone has to wonder what the REAL purpose of some of those questions are.

-- Chris (!@#$, March 15, 2000.

Ouch! sorry for the italics.

-- Chris (!@#$, March 15, 2000.

Off bold Off bold Off italics Off italics

Check out those help functions, Brooks....or call 1-800-471-9424 between 8am and 9pm 7 days a week. Tell them you got the long form and you have Attention Deficit Disorder and want to fill out the short one, or tell them that you feel it discriminatory that you are one of the 1 in 6 who got the long form rather than the short, or ask them if you only answer the questions that one would have answered on the short form if the penalties still apply. [That sure doesn't sound fair TO ME.]

I'm with you on the legalese, Chris. Like BFD, we have no problem answering the questions on the short form, and since we got BOTH, and I've looked it up, it seems we need only fill out ONE of the TWO. [Want to guess which one?]

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 15, 2000.

Chris, it may appear unconstitutional to us, but established case law indicates we would lose.

Anita, one of my complicating problems is that if I selectively answer only the short form questions, the census worker that will come knocking this summer will pigeonhole my senile mother (who hates the Clinton administration but will gleefully attempt to answer the questions anyway). Since I know most of the answers she would give would be complete BS, I ought to be held liable for willfully providing false answers. ;^)

-- Brooks (, March 15, 2000.

Brooks, "established case laws" don't necessarily means we would lose, it only means the poor sucker defendant had a lousy laywer in this case, or couldn't afford to defend himself/herself appropriately. I wouldn't pay a lawyer $500/hour for an illegal fine of $100 by myself, if I couldn't afford it. Which court was the case established? It probably could have been appealed in a higher court.

All this is scare tactics. Seems to work just fine too, according to the arguements on this thread and a new one started by Flash.

You said on the other thread that we could stand to be fined $100 PER question. At 53 questions per person one, that's $5,300. Nonsense.

Aside from the Constitution protecting us, "...shall be fined not more than $100." That's in black and white under Chapter 5, section 221, written UNCONSTITUTIONALY by Congress.

All it takes is a few people contesting this census long form. Which the privacy watch dogs are doing, I'm sure.

-- Chris (!@#$, March 15, 2000.

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