April 5, 2000
The U.S. Constitution requires Congress to make an "actual
enumeration" of the American people every ten years, and for two
centuries the exercise of this power has caused little controversy.
This year's census taking, however, is seen by many as a bad April
What's different about Census 2000 is not merely the 53 privacy-
invading questions on the long form sent to one out of six American
households. The big difference is the technological advances since
Census 1990 that enable the government to store and exchange vast
quantities of personal information on computers, all identified by your
name, birth date and telephone number.
When viewed in the context of all the other private information
that government and corporations are gathering and storing on their
giant databases, Census 2000 is just one more way that Big Brother
Government is asking nosy questions, prying into family secrets, and
monitoring the daily activities of law-abiding citizens.
The Census Bureau spent more than $100 million on an ad campaign
trying to convince us all to hurry up and fill out these forms. That
the ads have been less than reassuring is indicated by the fact that
census officials have received up to 600,000 phone calls on a single
The envelope that delivered the forms carries the ominous warning
"Your response is required by law." U.S. Code, Title 13, sec. 221
states that citizens face a $100 fine for failing to answer the
questions fully and a $500 penalty for giving false information.
The law is unclear about enforcement of the fines since the Census
Bureau is not an enforcement agency. Enforcement will probably be up
to Janet Reno.
Census 2000 asks very specific questions about race, ancestry and
ethnic origin. The answers to these questions would have been very
useful for policy making under Hitler's pre-World War II regime.
Even with 18 options about race including Samoan and Chamorro, it
doesn't look like there is any box for Tiger Woods to check.
Do you speak a language other than English at home and, if so,
which one? Many people believe that English should be declared our
official U.S. language, but no one has ever before suggested that
government inquire into the speaking of other languages inside the
Where did you live five years ago? What business is this of
Census 2000 wants to know if you have difficulty learning,
remembering, concentrating, dressing, bathing, or getting around inside
the home. What do you suppose is the purpose of those questions?
Some speculate that gathering this type of information is the
start of going after lawful gun owners. Clinton's press secretary Joe
Lockhart said on Meet the Press on March 19 that "mental records"
should be checked for gun ownership.
How did you get to work last week, how many people rode in the
vehicle with you, how many minutes did it take you, and what time did
you leave home? Is this question designed to facilitate Al Gore's plan
to eliminate the internal combustion engine?
Census 2000 demands that you report detailed information about
your income in 1999, "even small amounts." Will this be cross-
referenced with your income tax return or your Social Security payments
to see if you perjured yourself?
A note enclosed with the Census form says 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." But how do we know what
the Clinton Administration may subsequently "authorize"?
We always thought that in America our home was our "castle," safe
from the henchmen and interrogators of any king or would-be dictator.
But your home is not safe from Census 2000, which demands that you
reveal how big your home is, when it was built, when you moved into it,
how many rooms you have, how many bedrooms, what plumbing, kitchen,
heating and telephone facilities you have, how many automobiles you
own, and how much yard space you have. The local tax assessor would be
very interested in your answers to those questions.
Census 2000 demands that you reveal the annual costs of your
electricity, gas, other fuel, water and sewer. This question belies
the promise that filling out the form "will take about 38 minutes to
complete" because most people probably could not locate the answers to
this one question within 38 minutes.
The intrusions into your home persist. If you rent, how much do
you pay? If you have a mortgage, how much is your monthly payment?
What are the real estate taxes on this property? What is the value of
this property and what would you sell it for?
Finally comes a really personal question. Who else lives in your
home and how are they related to you?
Not only the short form with eight simple questions, but the long
form with 53 intrusive questions plus 33 questions for each additional
person living in the same household, carry the same message at the top:
"It is quick and easy." No wonder the American people believe the
government lies to us.