Census Would Never Be Misused…

We got our census form today, and there are definitely some more intrusive questions. Like many people, I’ve been researching what is officially required to be answered by law. Unfortunately, answers are all over the place.

So let’s start with what the bureau itself states in their FAQ online in reference to something simple, like the request for phone number:

17. Why do you need my telephone number?
We may need to clarify your form responses. If we have a telephone number, we may be able to do this without having to send a census worker to your home. Your telephone number is kept confidential, as are all your responses.

Innocent enough, right? Confidential. Besides this is our government, and surely we can trust them.

So now let’s take a look at something far more ominous: questions about race. Surely that information would only be used to help federal programs, civil rights, etc. That’s the official word.

But let’s look at reality. Step back to 1942. The Census Bureau created a special list based on the 1940 census that detailed how many Japanese-Americans lived in each neighborhood. On Feb 19th, FDR signed Executive Order 9066, and the Army began rounding up AMERICAN CITIZENS based on this census list, and placed them in internment camps (which is a slightly more pleasant version, and more politically-correct version of concentration camps).

But what does the Constitution say? It’s right there in Article 1, Section 2:

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.

Enumeration…that’d be numbers, the actual counting of the people. Not home or land ownership, not telephone number, not race.

Although I do have some reservations about filling out our census documents, there is no denying that a census can be an incredibly useful way to trace your family history. For instance, a friend of mine is currently compiling his family tree and he has found that census documents dating back to the 1910s have proved to be an incredibly valuable resource! You can learn more about using census data from the 1910s here: https://www.genealogybank.com/explore/census/1910-records.

Above all, you can learn so much about your ancestors by going through old census data and obituary archives on genealogy websites so I can definitely see why compiling a census is so important.

However, I won’t and can’t tell you how to answer yours. Nor will I tell you how I’m answering mine…partially because I have yet to decide. But for those that which to place their unwavering trust on a government that has abused the information before, I want you to think about some of these things…

PS I *do* like the idea of stating race as: American.

We got our census form today, and there are definitely some more intrusive questions. Like many people, I’ve been researching what is officially required to be answered by law. Unfortunately, answers are all over the place. So let’s start with what the bureau itself states in their FAQ online in reference to something simple, like…


  1. Certainly the data could be misused and that's worth thinking about. transfer this to the data that I and most people trust to entities like Google/Facebook and it's enough to make one a little paranoid. I haven't received my form yet and I'm not sure how I'll fill it out either and this post made me think. Thanks!

  2. Just posted the link on my FB feed as well. I wonder if I should include our last name, versus just the initials (first initial and last initial are all I entered). If someday my great-great-great grand kids are looking for us it'd be nice if they could find us. Not sure. hmmm….

  3. SSCC is actually offering a seminar to help get the form completed….it wasnt meant to be this damn difficult

  4. Interesting. I will totally be giving this a good deal more thought. I am curious though if there was more than 10 questions. They said there was only 10 and its been out there for quite a while what those 10 were, though i've forgotten them by now. My skeptical dh is curious if all the anti-census people would still be raising a stink if GW were still in the white house vs. everyone's worst enemy Obama.

  5. Interesting. Though, if the government really wanted to know my phone number and whatnot, they have plenty of other documents that have that–and much more sensitive–information on it. ~Luke

  6. Luke–that's part of the intrigue in this. Rebecca–perhaps he's not skeptical enough. Not only would the huge majority of "us" still questioning this, but if it were GW, there'd be a bunch from the other side joining.

  7. I, too, have been doing a lot of research regarding what is legally required. I didn't save the link to share, unfortunately, because I was just researching it for my knowledge. But what I found is this:Legally, you only need to provide the number of people at the residence. That is the ONLY information that you can be fined for not filling in. Interestingly, NO ONE in the history of the census has ever been fined for not completing a census. Of course, we're dealing with Constitution-burning, socialists right now, but we still have rights.Also, it is important for people to know that most of the information crimes (selling socials, stealing personal info) that are committed in this country are inside jobs. That goes for the Federal govt all the way down to small businesses. As a former employee of a very large bank, the information that I alone was privy to at any time and without supervision is scary for me to think about today. So, the law says the census is confidential for 72 yrs. But confidential to whom? Certainly they are tabulating and threatening to show up at our front doors if we don't complete it, so it can't be THAT confidential. And we already know what kind of rotten eggs we are dealing with when it comes to ACORN and it's chief Owebowma.Did any of us really have these fears in 2000 and in 1995? I know I didn't. As a genealogy researcher for 4+ family names, I love pouring over the old census forms that have been released (after 72 yrs). But this isn't 1938 and the information collected by an unscrupulous govt is dangerous. We already know the plans Owebowma has for this country…and it is great ruin, destruction, and an equal share of misery…not the prosperity that we have been born into and enjoyed.Like you, Scott, I am not going to divulge how we intend to complete our form. This is a private decision and one that people, I believe, should make after considering all the facts they can gather.

  8. Scott, I'm amazed at the apparently strong concern (from you and your readers) that the census would ask for your phone number. Where was this outrage when the previous administration was conducting illegal wiretapping (in other words, actually breaking the law and invading citizens' privacy)? Seriously, I want to understand what I perceive to be a disconnect.

  9. Todd–I don't think many of us view the phone number as much of an issue, but the entirety of the questions asked…again, under the assumption of trust. I also think you'd be surprised by the number of us that were and are against the Patriot Act and massive expansion of powers (and cost) by Bush…

  10. I hope I wouldn't be that surprised. 🙂 The trust issue is major. We seem to be dealing with a broken covenant (to use a charged word) between the people and those we elect to govern us. I, too, believe there has been a betrayal of President Obama's original intentions (or sales pitch). For example, contrary to what I think your readers' views are, I would have loved to have seen a wholesale fundamental change in our healthcare system: we need a public option and mandatory coverage. The President had a mandate and the will of the majority and a surfeit of good will around the nation. And it was effectively squandered. This has damaged my trust in his intentions, his party's effectiveness, and the system as a whole.However, to come back to the census, I think it's reasonable that the Constitutionally-mandated collection of some vital statistics and/or the nature of that vital information would have changed over the course of 200+ years. We're a vastly different country, with different (and endemic) problems. We need new information to fix some problems or even identify them. 200 years ago, we were basically white land-owning men or not. I think the categories have expanded a bit. And 300 million are much harder to enumerate than the 4 million in 1790. Now, do they need to know your telephone number? Ultimately, no. But they can get it easily elsewhere, and their explanation of follow-up seems reasonable (I like to aim for a test of "reasonableness"). I don't even have a landline anymore, so am I excluded from that question? Can I give them a Skype number? A Google number? Again, there's been a lot of change.But, to get off the telephone number topic, I guess I'm just tired of seeing unhelpful ad hominem attacs, i.e., "Owebama" and "Constitution-burning socialists." Be part of the solution and offer concrete ideas to address our problems and remember that the people in government are "trying" to deal with such large-scale issues that we can barely comprehend their scope. Imagine being asked to "fix poverty." Where does one start? I'm not surprised that the administration is paralyzed, but I would still demand some action: that's what we voted for in 2008. There was a slogan in the 90s: "Do Something." I think we're at that point.Whew, I'll step off the soapbox now and take my Valium. Cheers.