Census Questions

Real Americans don't answer nosy Census questions


The federal government says it's your "civic duty" to complete the 2000 Census form -- but it's actually your patriotic duty to refuse to answer most of the government's snooping questions, the Libertarian Party said today. "Real Americans don't answer nosy Census questions," said the party's national director, Steve Dasbach. "You can strike a blow for privacy, equality, and liberty by refusing to answer every question on the Census form except the one required by the Constitution: How many people live in your home?"

This week, in an attempt to reverse declining response rates, Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt held a press conference to plead with Americans to view the once-a-decade Census as a "civic ceremony." The results of the Census, lectured Prewitt, affect "power, money, group interests, civil rights; in short, who gets how much of what." And that's exactly what's wrong with the Census, countered Dasbach -- and why Americans should boycott almost every question.

"The U.S. Constitution says the purpose of the Census is to make an enumeration; that is, to take an accurate count of Americans for the purpose of apportioning Congressional districts," he said. "But the federal government has gone far beyond that Constitutional mandate, and uses the Census to ask dozens of probing questions -- including the color of your skin, the number of toilets in your home, your disabilities, and how many cars you own." In fact, the long version of the Census contains a whopping 52 questions, noted Dasbach, which is 51 more than the Constitution requires. But it's not just the questions that are offensive, he said, but how the information is subsequently used."

As Mr. Prewitt noted, the Census is all about 'who gets how much of what' -- which is why Americans should refuse to answer those prying questions. The fact is, the information collected by the Census is used to dole out an estimated $180 billion in taxpayers' money, to justify and expand wasteful government programs, and to allow the government to discriminate against Americans based on their racial or ethnic background. "In other words, Census information is used to forge the chains that bind Americans to failed government programs, meddlesome bureaucracies, and a sky-high tax rate.

So, if you care about privacy, genuine equality, and old-fashioned American liberty, it is your civic responsibility to just say 'no' to nosy government bureaucrats." To make it easier to respond, Dasbach said he had an all-purpose answer for Americans when they get their 2000 Census form. "We live in an information age," he said. "But the only information the government deserves on the Census, beyond the number of people in your home, is: None of your business." Of course, any American who gives a "None of your business" response could face pressure and a $100 fine from the Census Bureau, Dasbach acknowledged. "Yes, it would be easier just to give the government the information it wants," he said. "But I think many Americans will realize that a $100 fine is a small price to pay for making a principled stand for privacy and freedom."