The 2010 Census

Since stories about the upcoming 2010 Census have been hitting the media, I decided to do some research on how it is done and what the purpose is. Even I can learn new things! The United States Constitution requires a census every 10 years to draw congressional districts and to figure out the Electoral College votes of each state. Congress uses the count also to figure the distribution of more than $400 billion each year in federal aid to state, local and tribal governments. The decennial (great word!) U.S. Census figures include citizens, non-citizen legal residents, non-citizen long-term visitors and illegal immigrants. Not that an illegal alien is going to admit their status to a census taker even though the census taker will explain that the responses are confidential by law and they cannot be shared with other federal agencies or law enforcement. So how can you really count the number of illegal immigrants? I think the numbers that are always quoted are bogus. The Census Bureau, a division of the Department of Commerce, uses the method of imputation in figuring the census. In statistics, imputation is the substitution of some value for a missing data point or a missing component of a data point to assign data to housing units where occupation status is unknown. Many people disagree with the use of imputation but it was ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002 in Utah v. Evans. Then there is the controversy of the practice of counting prisoners as residents of prisons, not their pre-incarceration addresses. This can result in misleading information about racial demographics and population numbers in certain states. What about college students? In a city like Champaign, IL students would create a very inflated census count. Since the accuracy of the Census count is so important, I am confused how some of the financial figures in the stories about the Census don’t seem to compute correctly. The Census Bureau reported that the campaign to accomplish the count will cost $300 million. Since the Bureau also reported that they are mailing out two letters; one a letter telling a person they will get a census reporting form (and asking what language they want it in) and then the form itself to about 120 million households. That is 240 million pieces of mail. Right off the Bureau has spent about $200 million just on the mailing. That is assuming that the Federal government charges another Federal government agency to mail a letter. I think there is postage on the letters I get from the IRS! A boatload of our taxpayer money is also being spent on a huge civic outreach effort that will feature 13 vans crossing the country, driving more than 150,000 miles with 800 publicity stops at parades, festivals, the Super Bowl and other major sporting events. The vans will have interactive exhibits that will allow people to share their stories on why the census is important to them. What a joke and waste of money! Like I care why the census is important to someone! According to the Census Bureau, “in 2000, about 67 percent of households mailed back their forms, ending a three decade decline in the response rate. Follow-up visits are expensive.” For every percentage point decrease in the response rate, the Census Bureau said,” it costs an additional $85 million to find and count those people.” So the only way the Census Bureau could KNOW that the initial response rate was 67%, was that they did enough follow up to get close to the 100% mark. If it costs $85 million to find and count each additional 1%, and the Bureau was missing 33% of the count that means it cost more than $2.5 BILLION in 2000 to identify the rest of the population. So how is the Bureau going to complete the census for only $300 million? The financial numbers don’t make sense. You might have to think about this for a while, but with enough study, you will understand it! The Bureau also reported that in 2000, there was an over-count of 1.3 million people, which they attributed to affluent people with multiple homes. I can understand how they discovered the duplication because of multiple forms being returned. But the Bureau also said that about 4.5 million people were ultimately missed, mostly blacks and Hispanics. How did the Bureau know how many people were not counted? If they know how many people were NOT counted, how come they cannot figure out how many people ARE in the population without spending hundred of millions (or a couple of billion) dollars? Give me five million dollars and I will start counting our population right now. One, two, three…..

Editors Extra: We agree with Kathy Posner. There is no way in high Hell that the count will even be right or close. It is such a waste of money. These census takers first of all come in the daytime, when everyone is at work. I think this whole thing is pretty much guess work right from the start. It would be more accurate if we had Jerry Springer go door to door. At least the illegal immigrants wouldn't be scared to answer the door, and hey, Jerry could have a show titled, " How I Live Off America For Free".
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