11.05.10

Vox Populi: What the Census Man Knew

Posted in Census at 11:22 am by George Smith

If you didn’t take time to read the comments on DD’s census piece yesterday, you missed a great deal of found humor. And rock solid proof of
the irreconcilable differences in US tribes, exposed by bad government and the crashed US economy.

When DD was in grad school, lunatic extremism was not the mainstream. Now it is.

I’ve sampled the best comments and added remarks.

Here we go!

The number of people living in the house is what is mandated the rest is bullying. It is our duty as citizens to resist any law that is not constitutional and any law that is not in the spirit of the constitution is automatically unconstitutional!

Standard right wing census-dodger bullshit I heard many times. Census workers were given examples of what people were asked, and the results, from way in the olden days.

At one time census workers asked if there were people in the house who were paupers or mentally incapable.

Jezzus numb nuts, They ask simple things like name, do you own or rent, and how many people live here. They do not care about flush toilets or how many rooms you have. They will ask in a follow up more detailed questionnaire which is entirely voluntary questions like household income, and occupation for the people living there.

A census is an example of intrusive government? Really? A data collection mechanism designed to enable the folks in charge to make better, more informed decisions. Something that allows the people who live in a country know a little bit more about said country.
Really?

No offence is intended here…but I have to view that kind of statement as either “you are victim of some pretty blatant Tea Party propaganda” or “you are off your meds.” Together, those two would probably have a synergistic effect.

Seriously: WTF?

Experienced every day, multiple times.

“part of the reason people responded to the census the way they did is because this was the first time an actual federal representative was coming over to the house uninvited.”

Well yes, except for the fact that the census has been performed by Actual Federal Representatives every ten years since 1790 (inclusive). So unless they’re less than 10 years old, immigrated to the US sometime in the last 10 years, or slept through the previous census(es) then it’s already happened before and they lived to tell.

My mother was an enumerator in the 1990s Census and people were much more cooperative then. It was only the crazy (think Hannibal Lecter) or red-neck (think Early Cuyler) who didn’t want the census people to count them. This current paranoid right-wing resistance is new and directly traceable to Fox News.

I absolutely DO NOT understand why any group would want to intentionally under represent themselves in the census. Census data is used to determine the distribution of representatives in the House and for purposes of determining funding for a LOT of Federal programs (road creation/repair, school funding, etc)

As the title implies that you are responding to the article titled “Ironic” I am not sure if I understand all your points. The point that gathering too much personal data can be deadly for minorities or groups out of favor was also mentioned in the OP where it stated “…Remembering that the US has a history of rounding up persons based on race, national origin, and political bent, …” and is agreed with. So, going forward with the point that in the EU, where more personal data is collected than in the US, the population is less whiny seems, well, illogical. If collecting personal data is dangerous then collecting more personal data is more dangerous. Rather than being dismissive of protesting personal data collection as being whiny, I would think that it deserves applauding as it provides a higher standard that can be used as an example. Yes?
However, the fundamental points of the OP were not just about collecting personal data and what evil may be done with it. They were also about: 1) how those who refused to comply were labeled; 2) how the US government uses force to gain compliance; 3) how it has a history of abusing groups that can be identified via personal data like race, national origin, and political bent; and that given those points, 4) it is not improbable to be skeptical of the Census. Those are the points that I think should be discussed. As it seems to be the first point that is ignored the most, I have to wonder why? Is it too subtle? Have we already stopped noticing when someone calls people crazy, as in loony for thinking thoughts like that, for resisting a government process to force us to help with gathering personal data? They may be crazy for resisting a process that cannot be stopped but I don’t think that is not what the author meant.

I had no experience with census work prior to taking the job. I had no preconceptions going in. I thought it would be difficult, given that part of the job was explicitly to enumerate the hardcore census-dodgers, not the vast majority of people who had performed their civic duty. Like me.

I divided the non-responders into two general categories on experience, not on preconception. Others in my crew, perhaps not all, thought the same way.

The author divided potential targets as either those that complied, those that could not comply, and those that refused to comply. Those that refused to comply were crazies and the envious. I think that is vilification, yes? The only caveat to his analysis is that he said the ‘second category’ included those kinds of people so it may also have included people he might consider sane and not envious. But as he doesn’t actually say that we can only conjecture it, if we are feeling benevolent, and by that benevolent logic you can also include any other group not mentioned. Given that he has already disparaged that category though, I suspect most people would add their other least liked groups. And that, along with the obvious pejorative descriptions of people who were ‘census-dodgers’, is why I call this slanted.

Called a spade a spade. If you were a hardcore census-dodger, you were a hardcore census-dodger. No other way to describe them.

Now, it’s quite possible that a group that actually only had X% of Fox-believing care-in-the -community cases in it might seem in hindsight like it had rather more, but that’s the kind of thing that most people would apply their own pinch of salt to when reading, and in the end, it’s not exactly important what the precise proportions were – for an insight into someone’s job, it’s likely that they’ll concentrate on the more memorable people.

In any case, the author actually seemed to go on to describe people like the sneering ‘why don’t you get a better job’ types that seem more like people who just want to look down on others in order to feel important, not just anti-government nutjobs.

Really? Then why all the angry gibbering about how anyone with a gripe about the census was a fat-cat Glenn Beck addict? (And how homeless and jobless people were invariably pleasant and understanding and had totally legitimate excuses for everything.)

Did … not … mention … Glenn Beck. Fuck that guy.

The major problem was the mentioned multiple rounds of invasive questions. After 3 “census” guys show up at your door, after you’ve already returned your form, you’re going to be a) a little testy at the obvious government waste and idiocy, and b) wondering if they’re really census guys, or people out to steal your identity.

After re-answering all the questions with the first guy, I told the rest to sod off. They gave me the usual “you’re interfering with the census” to which I said “no, I’m not, as I’ve sent in my form. fuck off”

One guy waited for over an hour hoping for me to answer questions. I simply went about my business and he helplessly followed me around the house, while I ignored him.

The IT angle is the census was the first use of punched-card data processing equipment.

And that census fellow was a good example of how courteous and patient we were, even in the face of many dickheads daily.

Then the census workers did what we did with everyone. Ask your neighbors about the uncooperative guy living next door. And they told us. Sometimes they rolled their eyes.

I feel entitled to a firewall against the nuisance of articles by former census workers!

Sadly, I know how to write up a storm.

First, abusing census takers is actually a VERY, VERY OLD issue that can be traced to right after the Civil War. In the 30’s it wasn’t unusual for rural people to take shots (as in with a firearm) at census employees either mistaking them for revenuers (federal police either enforcing the ban on alcohol at the time or later shutting down unregistered stills) or simply out of pure cussedness. If all you got was insulted and cursed at, count yourself lucky.

Second, I have a couple of friends (retired) who decided to become census takers for something to do. From what I’ve been told, all you really had to have was a pulse and be able to get to your assigned area. I met a charming young lady one late morning looking for my next door neighbors. She couldn’t understand why they were never home till I pointed out they both worked and didn’t get home till 5pm. Apparently it never occurred to her that showing up during regular working hours probably wasn’t the best method for contacting people at home.

Actually, my favorite time to go out was when people were arriving home from work. Or early weekend mornings and gay Sunday afternoons when people were cooking out and partying, much to the dismay of the NRFU’s.

During World War 2, the US Army used Census data about race to identify Japanese-Americans to round up and send to internment camps. Now they don’t care so much about race if you’re Asian or European, but they really obsess about it if you’re from Latin America, and the right-wing politicians obsess about sending all those Latino immigrants back home.

Michelle Bachmann/Fox News crapola. Yes, yes, yes — we knew all about your idiot fears. As neighbors, we watched the same thing on tv.

Too bad America is full of sheeple who will answer any question the government asks, especially if the government over-reaches in its asking.

1 Comment

  1. Dick Destiny » More jokes from the most jokeful country said,

    April 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    […] Bachmann also incited civil disobedience against the census. I got more than a good share of this wonderful fruit. […]