THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 69, April 15, 2000
Skewing the Census -- For Them
by Daniel B. Safford, Jr.
Special to TLE
The second sentence of Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution is: "The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."
Many amazing things have happened this year. Civilization did not collapse, not even one little bit. The NRA is publicly calling the president a liar. The biggest threat of war in years is being totally ignored by the press. And the first week the new Census forms were out, 600,000 individuals called, faxed or e-mailed the Census office to register their displeasure at the level of intrusiveness shown.
If we accept as a rule of thumb the 10-1 ratio for people who complain to those who feel the same way, then that means there are 6 million people who also feel that way. Given that there are about 4 people per household (and that statistic is from the last couple of census sweeps - more on those in a minute), then 24 million people could be missed by the census, rendering it questionable, if not useless.
The Census Bureau has already said they will not prosecute those who do not send in the forms or even incomplete ones. Nancy Johnson in a Sierra Times article has stated that from a legal standpoint, if you don't want to play the game, your best bet is to not send in the form.
Now, this sounds great. Dump the form in the trash, dodge the phone calls, don't answer the door and they will go away. No sweat. The biggest point is that we stuck it to those bastards. We didn't play by their rules, we didn't support the system. We won. Right.
After the 1980 and 1990 census, there were charges that the count was not accurate. This is true in general. I doubt that they counted everyone once. Some not all, some twice, some misclassified as to location, etc. The left charged that inner city, urban, minority (black, then Latino) were deliberately undercounted - either from active (or is it passive) attempts by the government to underrepresented these groups or from the peoples fears of INS or Welfare.
The attempt to use statistical sampling was supposed to be a way around this. Conservatives feared that it would be used to over represent groups and areas that are traditionally Democratic and gerrymander the House of Representatives to give the Democrats firmer control. (As if….even with a majority, the Republicans still act as if there are only a few of them in there)
The statistical sampling idea was shot down. They have to count people.
So, a form comes out. A plain reading of the clause in the constitution shows that the purpose of the census is to allow for apportionment. The tagline "in such Manner as they shall by Law direct." Gives them wriggle room. Seriously, if congress legislated that we all had to march through Washington and be counted as we passed the capitol, that would be legal and constitutional. (When they do it in 2010, do NOT blame me).
So, as long as they gather the count for the apportionment, any other information that is mandated by law is constitutional as well -- even if it is stomach churning and intrusive. However, that is still not the end of it. As with anything more complex than basic arithmetic, this is open to interpretation, so the Census people have said they will not prosecute non-compliance. (Local judiciary maybe, but not them…..)
So, we all decide not to send in the form. What happens?
Well, all the good democrats, socialists and reasonable people will fill out the form (grumbling or not) and send it back and their data will be compiled. Libertarians, Independents (most of them), Conservative Republicans, and the handful of others who recognize government intrusion when they see it will toss the form. The people who will toss the form, are mostly white, mostly middle class and mostly small town/rural.
So, using the data gathered, despite knowing that it is wrong (but hey, that was their choice -- right?) the Census will sort the data by region and race and sex and age and income and -- oh, yeah reapportion election districts -- and the cities and big towns, and suburbs will gain seats and the countryside will lose. More democratic seats, fewer republicans.
The bastards will have what they want, legally, constitutionally, and when everyone realizes what happened and starts to complain -- well, they do not exist, so why listen? Also, if you do not officially exist and the government shoots you and takes your land, does anyone hear?
What to do?
Well, you could fill out all those pesky questions. As my wife, who is less enamored of government than I am (and I think they all ought to be out looking for a real job), pointed out -- all the information they are asking for they have, somewhere. Giving it to them again is a waste of time and your tax dollars, but damn, if they don't waste it on the census, they might give it to the ATF.