Census Bureau Pimps Turn The American People Into Information Whores
With all the fuss made over the 300 millionth American, the U.S. Census Bureau enjoyed an unaccustomed moment in the limelight as the work done by this government agency is seldom considered glamorous enough to warrant much coverage in the media.
Article One, Section Two of the U.S. Constitution authorizes an enumeration of the population to be taken every ten years. The only purpose for this tabulation authorized by the Constitution is to figure our how to divvy up the House of Representatives.
But while the Founding Fathers instituted the census as a tool to safeguard the liberties of the Republic by making sure each person is properly represented numerically in the national legislature, as with many of the other institutions devised by these innovative political thinkers, this one is also being used to undermine the very nature of freedom itself.
One of the foremost aspects of freedom is the ability to withhold from those in power information regarding one’s private affairs that is not necessary to the fulfillment of legitimate government functions. However, as the state seeks to concentrate power in order to become the dominate social institution over individual human lives with the hopes of surpassing the influence of church, family, and even the self, those administering these bureaucratic constructs have come to believe that collecting reams of data regarding every possible fact of your existence is necessary to carry out its constantly expanding functions.
Throughout much of Western history, free peoples have often exhibited a natural and understandable hesitation regarding (extraneous) tabulations on the part of government operatives. Therefore, as the data the Census Bureau seeks to collect becomes increasingly intrusive, more and more those charged with collecting this information turn to other names and euphemisms designed to get the American people to lower their guard to a practice they had initially been bred to be leery of.
Replacing the so-called “Census Long Form”, the American Community Survey is simply the same pill sent out more periodically to get the people of the United States to swallow it more easily. In much the same was as a summons to jury duty, the introductory epistle and instruction pamphlet accompanying the survey begins by going on pleasantly about the survey, thanks you for your cooperation, and almost tacks on as an afterthought that you are required to comply by law.
Those of a cavalier pioneering spirit might feel led to resist divulging their secrets to these federally sanctioned peeping Toms (and God bless them for such courage); however, as the Borg --- the futuristic outcome depicted on Star Trek that awaits mankind if this continual march towards collectivism is not halted ---- might say, “Resistance is futile” as the free citizen may be assessed a fine of up to $1000 for each question not answered correctly. Some might say such is the price one might have to pay for liberty as some others have been called upon to give their lives in freedom’s name.
Not to sound flippant, but if such an end came quickly, those befalling such a demise might be better off that someone facing the full wrath of the U.S. Census Bureau. For at a fine of $1000 for every question not answered correctly, that could theoretically be a penalty of $42,000 for each person living at a targeted residence failing to comply.
Advocates of the busybody school of government will respond that not a single person has ever been fined for failing to relent to Census Bureau interrogations. Maybe not yet, but as with nuclear weapons, the threat always looms overhead; and like a nation of inferior military status before an atomic-wielding power, do you want to be the one to tick off the petty magistrate drunken on the authority the government is allowing the official to exercise? Such a strategy could be used to obtain the property of some patriotic individual reluctant to reveal to yet another agency yet more about private matters and possessions.
And speaking of ways through which to swindle the good property holders of the United States out of the dwellings, plots, acreage, and structures they so cherish as a free people, the questions asked by the American Community Survey could be used to do just that.
For example, it is not enough for the American Community Survey to ask how many reside at a particular residence. Now they ask how many acres the dwelling in question sits on, how many rooms are in each house, does the domicile have hot and cold piped water, does the residence have a flush toilet (no doubt the next time this abomination is put into your mailbox you’ll be asked how many toilet tissue squares you use per wipe as well), how many automobiles are kept at the residence, and how much utility bills were the previous month.
If you think all the American Community Survey asks is about what kind of dwelling you live in, you are sadly mistaken. The document gets even more personal.
For once the document finishes asking you about your living arrangements, it proceeds to get even more personal by snooping into your occupational background. For it not only asks you where you work and how much you make but also what time you leave for work, how many people ride to work with you, and how long it takes you to get there.
It’s a wonder they don’t ask how many times a week you have to take a bowel movement while at work. It wouldn’t be any nosier than the other questions asked.
Those thinking that last suggestion was so outrageous that it doesn’t even bear mentioning might change their tune once they learn what else is on the drawing board. For though they have not yet been incorporated into the American Community Survey, state governments --- Washington in particular --- are busy conditioning their residents into accepting the next level of administrative intrusion into their lives.
According to a Seattle Times article titled “State To Check On Residents Health”, health officials there plan to fan out across the state to gather medical dossiers on selected residents as part of the Washington Adult Health Survey, an effort funded in part by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As part of the survey, health department operatives will show up on the doorsteps of the targeted to ask them questions about what medications they are on, diet, alcohol and tobacco use, and any dental problems they might have. After all, it’s always been a tradition for a prospective master (in this case the state) to examine the teeth of its prospective beasts of burden; but in this case, it is of you, the slave, rather than a horse.
Why don’t they go ahead and ask if you and the Mrs also had a pleasant romp in the boudoir the night before while they are at it?
And don’t think you’ll be able to get these lab-coated snoops off your back by just telling them the sweet nothings you think they’ll want to hear. For not only will the subjects be required to answer questions but they will also be subject to a battery of tests such a blood pressure, height, weight, and waist size but also have blood drawn to assess cholesterol and sugar levels (no doubt to determine if you are eating a government approved diet).
Perhaps even more interesting still is that hair samples are to be taken from fecund women between the ages of 25-44 and men and women over 60, it is claimed, to test for mercury. However, what better way to start laying the foundations for a DNA identification database.
By starting with women of childbearing age and grandparents, one is well on the way to covering a sizeable percentage of the population. Sort of reminds me of how on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine it was told that the Cardassians authorities extracted the back molars from each of the citizens living under that particular police state for identification purposes.
As with the propaganda accompanying the American Community Survey materials, those of the Washington Adult Health Survey extol the virtues of compliance (even promising a $45.00 gift card for those that comply). Yet very little is said about what will be done to those leery about lurid minions of the state poking around for information about some of their most private affairs.
In a March 5, 2006 Argusleader.com article titled “Census Bureau Gets Personal: Latest Survey Asks About Daily Routine, Stocks, Health”, Census officials claim they promise confidentiality for those answering the survey. But that is something that the Bureau cannot guarantee.
According to a Sept. 22, 2006 ABCNews.com story titled “Census Bureau Loses Hundreds Of Laptops”, nearly 300 computers containing personal information have been stolen or lost. Will representatives of the Census Bureau be the ones to spend hours on the phone for you trying to get your identity and good name back should this data fall into the wrong hands?
Officials urge compliance with the American Community Survey on the grounds that the information will in no way be used to penalize individuals. Try telling that to Japanese Americans who, according to Kerby Anderson in “Moral Dilemmas: Biblical Perspectives On Contemporary Issues” were rounded up for the Internment thanks in part from information gathered off of Census Bureau punch cards (183).
While a quaint notion these officials would try to quell fears of individual punishment, this deception is designed to lull the discernment of those whose morality is rooted in loftier assumptions. For you see, in the dawning collectivist era, one is not judged by the actions one has actually committed as an individual but rather upon what one might do as part of the group or COMMUNITY.
Certainly, the government might not punish you directly or specifically as a result of how you answer a particular question on the American Community Survey. However, if a certain number in a given locality answer a question in a manner deemed to be out of accord with the preferences of social planners, you can bet the government is going to enact measures that will penalize you in the long run even if these agencies do not admit to doing as such.
For example, too many people from a certain neighborhood drive the family car to work? Federal, state, and local planners could sneak in new gas or road development fees to discourage motorists. Other proposals might not even address matters so specifically linked to particular behaviors but rather to forced targeted economic or demographic groups our of designated areas.
For example, your neighborhood a little “too White” for those elites who themselves live in gated communities where we common dregs of humanity can’t get access to without being accosted by an armed sentry in a guard booth? If so, armed with reams of American Community Survey data, planners can drone on about the need to “diversify” a particular locality through the introduction of public or subsidized housing.
Conversely and just as much an outrage, do you find yourself living in a neighborhood where, though it might not be the fanciest town around, but the people --- irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds --- love and care for their homes? Armed with American Community Survey statistics regarding the number of rooms, nature of the toilet facilities, property tax amounts and monthly mortgage costs, conniving developers could manipulate the numbers to make the neighborhood sound blighted even though there might not be as much a single crooked shingle in the entire town. In light of the Kelo decision, that is pretty much the thrust of what is needed to get the ball rolling to get your house snatched from you.
As to whether or not one decides to comply with the American Community Survey is ultimately up to them. For short of receiving a biometric identification mark as part of the process as depicted in the Christian movie “Years Of The Beast”, the Bible is itself pretty much of a mixed opinion on the matter.
On the one hand, King David was chastised by God for implementing such a measure. The obedience of Joseph and Mary in reference to such a decree, on the other hand, was what led to the Messiah being born in Bethlehem as prophesized. Only the leading of the Spirit of God can lead you in what to do regarding this unsettling intrusion into your private affairs.
Frederick Meekins is an independent theologian and social critic. Frederick holds a BS in Political Science/History, a MA in Apologetics/Christian Philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary, and a PhD. in Christian Apologetics from Newburgh Theological Seminary.