(Census) Found this in my newspaper todaygreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
Anyone know if this guy works for the government???
Here's the story:
By ROBERT SAMUELSON 3/16/00
Americans live in a permanent state of siege. We are relentlessly bombarded by telemarketers, direct mail, TV commercials, faxes and e-mails. It is this constant assault on our time and sensibilities that may most threaten what should be a national treasure: the once-a-decade Census.
The Census Bureau mailed 98 million forms this week to most American houses and apartments. Naturally, the forms arrive with the bills, junk mail and magazines. The Census Bureau predicts that only 61 percent of the forms will be returned. This would be lower than in 1990 (65 percent) or 1980 (75 percent). Fill it out. It's the least you can do. John Kennedy famously said: "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." The truth is that our country doesn't ask much. We have to pay our taxes and obey the laws. Otherwise, we're left alone. Completing the Census form once a decade is a rare duty (actually, it's also the law). What we get is a good population count - required by the Constitution for congressional apportionment - and a useful snapshot of social and economic conditions. About five-sixths of homes receive the short form, which asks basic population questions (age, sex, race, ethnic background). The rest get a longer form that also has questions on education, disability, commuting, income, occupation, housing and utility costs. The answers inform political debate. Everyone knows the Census isn't perfect. How could it be in a country so big and diverse? Still, the overall undercount in 1990 was less than 2 percent. This isn't bad, considering that some people - criminals, illegal immigrants - may avoid government and others don't speak English. Practical problems multiply when people don't respond voluntarily. The Census Bureau hires an army of "enumerators," estimated at 500,000 this year. The idea is to count everyone by visiting all the homes and apartments that didn't respond. The obstacles are enormous, as political scientist Peter Skerry shows in his forthcoming book ("Counting on the Census?").
In poorer neighborhoods, homes and apartments "may not have doorbells that work, doorbells at all, identifiable address numbers or mailboxes with names on them," he writes. Some people won't open doors to strangers for fear of crime. Some houses don't have fixed families. People simply come and go.
To overcome the problems, the Census Bureau has started an ad campaign and has a Web site www.2000.census.gov where people can complete the short form. Just why public cooperation has eroded is unclear. Jay Waite, the director of operations for the Census, recounts various theories: People are more mobile; they're more squeezed for time; they're more distrustful of government; their privacy fears have risen; their civic commitment has declined. The fears are exaggerated. The Census Bureau credibly promises not to reveal personal information to anyone, including other government agencies. But the fears are understandable. What's impressive is how well the bureau does despite the problems. Ironically, you wouldn't know it. The bureau focuses obsessively on the undercount and claims it can be cut substantially through a statistical "adjustment." The Clinton administration pushed this plan for use in congressional reapportionment (the split of House seats among states) until the Supreme Court ruled it illegal. The administration still wants the adjusted numbers used for redistricting (the drawing of congressional boundaries within states). As Skerry shows, the consequences of the undercount are vastly exaggerated. A General Accounting Office report in 1999 estimated that less than 1 percent of federal grant money to states would have changed if "adjusted" population figures had been used. After the 1990 Census, perhaps one House seat would have shifted among states if "adjusted" figures had been followed, says Price. The Census has always tried to count everyone. This is still the best way. But it won't survive in the face of public indifference or cynicism. So when the Census form arrives, don't think about filling it out. Just do it.
Washington Post Writers Group
(Jay Waite, the director of operations for the Census, recounts various theories: People are more mobile; they're more squeezed for time; they're more distrustful of government; their privacy fears have risen; their civic commitment has declined.
The fears are exaggerated. The Census Bureau credibly promises not to reveal personal information to anyone, including other government agencies. But the fears are understandable.)
Personally, most folks feel distrustful of government and have real privacy fears. Like I amost believe this information isnt going to be shared with other government agencies. Yea, Right.
-- Michael (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 16, 2000
What is it that the government doesn't already know about me (you) as there isn't a move we make that some agency isn't peering over our shoulders.
Got a year-end report from one of the credit card companies, listing every purchase I had made, how much, to whom and when. It even broke all this down into catagories. Privacy? I don't think so. It's too late now.
So, in my opinion, what the hell difference does it make what questions are asked. Someone, somewhere, already knows.
-- Richard (Astral-Acres@webtv.net), March 16, 2000.