Yesterday I received the envelope containing the census
Today I filled out the form.
I made several notable observations about the forms and the entire process along the way.
Note the envelope that the Census came in, pictured above. It says "Your Response Is Required By Law". This sounds like something close to a mandate to me.
When one violates the law there is typically some punitive response that is carried out by the government. The hope is that such a rebuke will dissuade this action in the future.
When it comes to the US Census, however, this same government actually spends money on extra resources to chase down people who "violate" this mandate to fill out the form.
Now granted - some people never receive the form. They have moved to a new address, others are unemancipated minors and still others are incapacitated in some way and thus will never see the form unless an adult brings it to their awareness and records their presence. I get it. There are one thousand and one different ways to fall through the cracks.
Furthermore the US Census has the goal of achieving an accurate count of the human beings inside of our borders. It is not meant to judge or be punitive. I get this as well.
One has to admit, however, that there is a gross bit of irony in this entire system of assumptions. In addition to being pushed as an accurate head count the US Census is being sold as the gateway to more federal resources sent into your community and a ticket to more political representation in the various legislative bodies at each tier of government. (The letter to the left that is packaged with the Census form tells of these benefits as well).
Despite the sales job on the benefits as an enticement to comply with the law mandating the completion of the documents, certain activist groups are driven to participate in the census process to maximize their own returns. They see the census in the context of their political and social best interest to ensure that all heads where they live are counted. I expect to see either Jesse Jackson or Rep John Lewis doing a radio ad reminding Black folks that we were once counted as "3/5ths of a human being in the past....lets not allow them to disrespect us today by having them not count us at all". Then again - I have hope. With Obama in office the power of "They" (as in "Da man") gets diminished a bit as a bad guy who will have us back in slavery if we are not vigilant.
Once again my own ideology conflicts with the prevailing thoughts around this entire issue. At what point do we demand that otherwise competent adults, who are being bombarded with awareness messages will themselves be prompted to do what is expected of them AND......in the event of an exception (ie: they did not obtain their form) - they actively reach out because they have bought into the importance of being counted?
Furthermore a community that has organic productive capacities after they have arranged their "human resources" toward this end would be far more inclined to protect their storehouses from being raided under the guise of the "national societal contract" to which the US Census fills in the variable of headcount, thus arranging the reapportionment. To be clear I am not against reapportionment. My model of what the federal government should be doing in the way of resource distribution is vastly different than my progressive counterparts.
I am far more inclined to make note of the dominate control that they now have over the local institutions and ask "Why, despite this control that you have amassed, are you still among 'the least of these'? What about your strategy are you willing to jettison now that you have gained power via the quid pro quo of promised benefit. Now you use your entrenchment to seek even more power at the national level, never having been forced to enumerate the grand benefits received at the lower plateaus of the mountain that you now control".
Filling Out The Form
I was actually surprised by the simplicity of the form. This time they only ask about the people in the house and some brief questions about the ownership of the residence. That was it.
I seriously looked back in the envelope to verify that I did not miss the second page where they asked me about my microwave, color TV, computer and Internet connections. None of that was asked this time.
The Prisoner Head Count and the "Negro" Checkbox
Next we have the contentious label of "Black, African Am., or Negro"
It didn't bother me. I know who I am.
I understand what they wanted me to put on the form.
- Not Hispanic
- Puerto Rican
- Another Hispanic - Write In What It Is
- Original Blacks, Slavery Descendants
- Caribbean Blacks
- African Blacks
- South American Blacks
There's that "prison" checkoff again. They seek to understand why a person who did not live most of the year in the residence did not live there. "Prison" was one of these reasons why.
I also noticed that beyond person #6 they don't care what race you are.