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Census intrusion

Blogger and friend Russell E. Whitaker links to and quotes from an article citing the increasingly intrusive, impertinent and downright rude questions which compilers of the U.S. national census deem is fit to ask citizens of Jefferson’s Republic once every ten years.

It is scarcely better in Britain, as far as I can tell. Oh well, I do recall with amusement reading somewhere that in response to questions about matters of religious belief, a number of folk now give their answer as ‘Jedi’. Even funnier, it is now a recognised category. I wonder if I ought to go through my collection of science fiction novels and come up with a new category or two.

9 comments to Census intrusion

  • Just don’t go siting L. Ron Hubbard. Not only does the fiction stink, but the religious angle has already been taken.

  • Best part is, you only (according to the Constitution) have to respond to the “headcount”, “name” and “address” questions. The rest you can leave blank.

    Yeah, the Census Bureau can fine you $100 for not answering all the questions, but they don’t have the resources to collect all the unpaid fines, either.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Can I worship Shai-Hulud(sp), mythical sandworms as a Freman?^_^


  • lemeul

    Yes they can fine you if you dont answer all the questions, but can they do anything if you lie? NO!

    In Slovakia we had a similar census a few years back, and I remeber that nothing in my answers was truthful except for my name and address. I claimed that it takes me 965 minutes to get to my workingplace, that we dont have phone, bathroom, tv, fridge, computer etc. For religious belief I filled in Naive Nihilism, or something like that.

    So lie and ridicule it. Thats the best way to deal with it.

  • Simon Jester

    “What happens if these forms aren’t returned?”
    “Government figures will be incomplete!”
    “But Government figures are a nonsense.”
    “I think Sir Humphrey wants them to be a complete nonsense.”
    – Yes, Minister

  • I can’t believe someone beat me to making a Dune reference. I was going to go with bene gesserit, but I like yours better, TWG.

  • I recall looking into this issue during the 2000 census. I was also outraged at the questions they asked, and decided to just toss the whole thing into the trash (after shredding it for good measure). They can fine you $100 for not answering or $500 for giving knowingly false information. But I found that in the majority of cases where someone doesn’t answer they just send a census-taker to interview you in person. If they can’t get in touch with you they will ask your neighbors or just make stuff up.

    Anyhow, even though they can fine you for failing to respond, they a) don’t have the resources to go after everyone -and- b) don’t want to scare people with the bad publicity that prosecuting someone would bring.

  • flaime

    Not to mention, if they fined someone who really hated the government, there would almost certainly be a court case costing the government millions and millions of dollars over information it doesn’t need, in which the provisions that say the government does need the information wouldn’t, in all likelihood, be deemed constitutional.

  • Guy Herbert

    The implortant thing is to contribute to a statistically significant heading. That’s where us Zoroastrians went wrong. And the Fremen will next time. That’s why I’m converting to Jedi.

    The reason that religion prompts such creativity in the British public is that the question has (by Act of Parliament) a rubric that very clearly states you can’t be prosecuted for failing to answer it accurately. What’s needed is that more people understand filing in the census in any manner whatsoever can’t be prosecuted: that to do so would invlve admitting the whole operation is unnecessary since the authoriities already know the information and have the capacity to collate it at the individual level.

    I can vouch for this, being the part-Polynesian fifth son of a comparative Icelandic philologist, who prior to retiring as a bouncer in a brothel to a 40-room falt without water or electricity was a stripper who went to work by pogostick, as the relevant census returns will verify.