The United States government is on the verge of committing one of the gravest mistakes in the history of any modern government – eliminating the U.S. decennial census.
Every legitimate, and in the case of North Korea and Syria, illegitimate government conducts a census of all inhabitants at some regular interval. Even the Soviets collected data on every person in every region throughout its holdings in Asia. Yes, the Soviet Union was a police state, but don’t confuse the issue. Every government needs good data on its inhabitants and practices, period.
The very first census was commissioned in 1790 after the Revolutionary War. Even before the United States was ratified into being, the Commonwealth of Virginia conducted a census of all residents.
Collecting data and information about our country is part of our blood, even as much so as collecting taxes!
Inarguably, the United States is one of the most vastly interesting, dynamic, robust, controversial, and diverse countries found on our planet. Collecting information about us helps us understand us. Yes, I understand I have nearly created a tautology in my description of need. However, without information we will eventually be adrift in an Ocean of Ignorance.
Look, our Decennial Census is super-important. The number of representatives in our local Houses and our National House of Representatives is determined by our population, first of all. Secondly, and perhaps most important of all, is the allocation of our tax dollars. Regardless of how you think our tax dollars are to be spent, the allocation of those dollars is based on population.
Allocation to state, regional, and local levels is often based upon “block grants.” Block grants are sums of money allocated back to states, based on need, portioned by population, and typically go to schools, law enforcement, and community development. Block grants are determined by population. Larger populations get more money than smaller populations, which makes sense; providing fire, police, and public safety for 100,000 people costs more than for 10,000.
I can also see a problem developing. Say the Republicans are successful in abolishing the Census and the sister product, the America Community Survey, leaving all Americans in the dark as to the current and future social and economic changes coming our way. How are we to know precisely if our communities are receiving their correct appropriation of Federal block grant monies? Are we going to rely on self-reporting of population figures from local communities? Really? I can see where some communities would be more than happy to “augment” or “enhance” some figures, like schoolchildren, in order to receive more money. I can see cases where communities might want to “round down” when reporting such details as Median Family Income, making their areas appear more poverty-stricken than they really are. One only has to look at the fudging some school districts have done when reporting the results of standardized testing to see the possible ramifications of removing federally-sanctioned information gathering and relying on self-reporting.
“This is a program that intrudes on people’s lives, just like the Environmental Protection Agency or the bank regulators,” said Daniel Webster, a first-term Republican congressman from Florida who sponsored the relevant legislation.”
Mr. Webster is not the genius his name might suggest. Floridians must have a choice between voting for Webster and an alligator, and opted for the worst of two evils. I don’t know.
Yes, how dare the EPA reduce the amount of mercury in my air! I love Mercury! It’s my 3rd favorite planet, after Mars and Hollywood, after all.
And, after the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fiasco of 2008, AIG, the collapse of the housing, and the recent $2B loss by JPMorgan, we have plenty of examples of wonderful, careful, and prudent financial management. Why would we ever want to regulate any banking system? That financial institutions themselves are suggesting more oversight is in ordering is simply crazy-talk. What do they know? They only deal in money which doesn’t exist, and derivatives of money which doesn’t exist. Not real money like real people use to buy cars, pay rent, food, or maybe put away for retirement. Yeesh!
Seriously, according to the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, methinks Sir Webster qualifies as either “dull,” or “borderline deficient.”
I’m not sure how he was able to beguile so many Floridians to vote for him. The incumbent, Harvard graduate Alan Grayson, is no moron, not even close. He holds a Degree in Economics, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He successfully prosecuted Iraq war-profiteering, winning a judgement against Custer Battles for $13 million dollars, the only successful fraud prosecution against Iraq War contractors. I’m guessing Mr. Grayson’s “Bush Lied, People Died,” bumper-sticker did in his political career.
This only proves my point that people get the government they deserve; morons voting to put morons in office results in a Moronocracy.
Oh – I like that word. In foreign policy, we talk about Russia as being a mafiacracy. Some people believe the United States is a plutocracy, a government run by the wealthy.
Sure, I can see this: the plutocrats, some of whom will run for office, will buy their way into the graces of the moronocrats, or will pave the way for the easy-to-manipulate moronocrats to attain office. Those of us who are too busy working for a living will be too consumed with the details of our lives to care or notice. And some Americans, the Mark Zuckerberg’s, the American Creative & Entrepreneurial Class are too busying developing the next best tablet/smartphone/social network – people who are actually contributing to society – to really care about their impeding rule by Plutocrats and their Moronocrat minions.
“We’re spending $70 per person to fill this out. That’s just not cost effective,” he continued, “especially since in the end this is not a scientific survey. It’s a random survey.”
Is this a joke? With all due respect to Mr. Webster, he cannot be this stupid. Granted, $70 a survey seems high to me. But, I question is dollar amount, especially when taken into consideration with his other comment about the survey not being scientific because its “random.” Seriously, that is an embarrassing comment, and all of our educated European cohorts must be trying hard to suppress giggles. On the other hand, our Chinese friends to the west nod sagely, watching our U.S. technological and societal lead fragment, guided by incompetent hands of moronocrats. The Government Accounting Office places the cost at $42 a person, by the way. The Economist magazine has a good article about census efforts by other countries.
But, those are my thoughts. What do important people have to say about Tea Party Republicans like Daniel Webster.
“Mr Webster is a stupid turd. Knowing what’s happening in our economy is so desperately important to keeping our economy functioning smoothly,” said Maurine Haver, the chief executive and founder of Haver Analytics, a data analysis company. “The reason the Great Recession did not become another Great Depression is because of the more current economic data we have today that we didn’t have in the 1930s.”
Ms. Haver did not say, “Mr. Webster is a stupid turd,” but I have no doubt she was thinking something along the line. Many, many, many companies use Census data for their business. I know; I have worked with some.
Years ago, I did research for a government development agency. One of our business recruitment tools was Census data. Companies, business, industries desperately need to know where their consumers are located, and not simply consumers, but also their labor force.
Site Location & Analysis is a field in geography devoted to the examination of characteristics which make some places attractive for business and other areas not so much. Knowing how educated a work force is can tell a company whether or not they will find an appropriate number of qualified people to work in each company division. Knowing something about wages and income will tell them about the labor markets wage structure and composition. Knowing something about household income will help them determine if and where stores or products might be most successful.
The Census is one of the most economically important efforts our government performs for the benefit of all U.S citizens.
I know the data I examined and the maps developed from said Census data helped bring industries into my region. I know use of the data back in the 1990s helped my area obtain a competitive advantage over other areas as I was told to my face by company personnel no one had included Census maps in their marketing packages. Those maps grabbed their attention, for good or bad, but the knowledge the data and maps imparted was invaluable to siting industry.
TARGET went so far as to make a video in support of the Census, citing data use to help locate new stores and find employees.
“What really promotes business in this country is liberty,” he said, “not demand for information.”
Eh, maybe I was being too gracious earlier in my reference to his intelligence. Yes, that is precisely what businesses want, maps that help them find “liberty.” “Can you should me places with your computer-gizmo where there is a large amount of liberty? That’s going to be a great place for my store. I’d like to see 5-, 10-, and 15- mile radii showing me Liberty Catchment Areas.”
Has Mr. Webster ever picked up a copy of the Miami Business Journal? Or, the Orando Business Journal? Or, even the Wall Street Journal? Yeah, those business rags are always clamoring about the deficit in data on “liberty.
Mr. Webster and his moronocrat minions even suggest the Census is unconstitutional. Hmmm…
From the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3: “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.”
I think Mr. Webster (R-FL) read the word “power” in the first Article and the notion went right to his brain cell which lacked a partner to tell him to hush before he made a fool of himself.
The impending disaster is larger than Mr. Webster seemingly overtaxed neuron. Republicans and spineless Democrats are actually debating about making the Census “voluntary.” Hey, if anything is “voluntary,” that pretty much means I’m not going to do it. So that means we end up with a bunch homeless people, winos, bored people, or people who simply like filling out surveys filling out surveys upon which $400 BILLION DOLLARS IS DEVIED OUT TO STATES.
Yeah. Sounds about right.
Oh sure, there might be a few civic-minded people who will do an honest job, but, really, we can’t even turn out to vote for the President of the United States. More people turn out to see Bruce Springsteen or Lady Antebellum or Justin Beiber than turn out to vote.
I find all the negativity directed at the Census by the Grand Obsolescence Party (GOP) and pandering Democrats as strikingly odd. In Education, we have been invested for decades in data collection in the forms of assessments and Standardized Testing with the idea of using the data to improve all educational efforts. To not report information results in punitive measures against states. Yet, our Congresspeople want to eliminate all data collection efforts which would help assess and evaluate our country, as a whole. Even more insidious, though, is the potential for mismanagement, misguidance, or even deliberate obfuscation of information by our political leaders to distribute tax payer dollars based on Good Old Boy Networks and encourage the expansion of Pork Barrel Politics. After all, if no one really knows where the real need is, who can really question how the money is spent?
What better way to avoid Transparency in Government than to simply not collect information?
With the Census, as with any data collection effort, garbage in=garbage out, and the time, money, and effort is simply a waste. Dr. Kenneth Prewitt summarizes best:
“If it’s voluntary, then we’ll just get bad data,” said Kenneth Prewitt, a former director of the census who is now at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. “That means businesses will make bad decisions, and government will make bad decisions, which means we won’t even know where we actually are wasting our tax dollars.”
Moving into the future, we need information – good information. For the U.S. to remain economically viable, perhaps even solvent, and be prepared to meet any economic challenge head-on, the U.S. needs good data. The errors of the past, i.e. Iraq, the Challenger Space Shuttle, Vietnam, Korea, Nixon’s Price Fixing Scheme, the Great Depression, both tactical and strategic, do not need arise again simply because the lack of vision of a few misguided moronocrats who want to save a few bucks.
If you haven’t been to the Bureau of the Census web site, well, you should visit. You help pay for it, after all; you should see what you get for your money. Honestly, the web site is not the easiest to navigate. If you are willing to spend the time, though, the Census site is a fascinating look into our country, and other countries, and is a product and service which has real and immediate benefits to nearly any user.