Congressman Ron Paul made headlines and ruffled some feathers the other week when he voted and then later penned an article encouraging Texans and people all over the country to not take the 2010 Census. He wrote; “I voted “No” on this resolution for the simple, obvious reason that the census like so many government programs has grown far beyond what the framers of our Constitution intended.’ We’ve known for a long time Paul has issues with privacy and government intrusion.
However in recent days popular rap star Ludacris has been on tour telling people they best fill out the census. Realizing that in past years African-Americans and other marginalized communities of color have not gotten their fair shake when it comes to Federal resources Luda noted; ““I look at our communities now and I see many empty lots, closed clinics, dilapidated schools and an overall breakdown of social services for the poor and elderly…Today is a day for change.”
Ludacris has promised that he will soon be visiting communities including Dallas, New Orleans, Orlando, New York, Washington and his native Atlanta.
“I plan to knock on doors in various neighborhoods around this country to try and dispel any myths about the Census,” Ludacris said. “It’s important that we all stand up and be counted so we can help create potential financial opportunities for our dying communities.”
With all that in mind, which way should we go? Personally, I understand the concerns people have about government and abuse of power. While Ron Paul has penned an eloquent essay speaking to those intrusions, many of us live in communities where our people have borne the brunt of such overstepping. However, we already know that in the age of GPS, internet, cellphones, ATM cards, credit checks, War on drugs and numerous laws on the books ranging from the Patriot Act on down, if the government really wants find us they can track us down. Trust me on that. We’re already on the grid. You don’t think if you live in the hood on the North side the local police departments haven’t already scoped out the neighborhood?
You don’t think they already know who’s there and who isn’t? I’m not saying its correct or desireable. I am simply saying in this case I gotta go along with Luda, in 2010 we need less vacant lots, more school supplies and extra money in our neighborhoods. Its our tax dollars providing them so might as well fill out the form and not trip. If I really wanna disappear off the grid, I can start by shutting down my Facebook page, Twitter account, toss my cell phone and somehow try to remove my all the photos people have posted of me on the internet and hope to God I can avoid high-tech recognition software. I can do all that and also hope that somehow in their zeal to collect fed monies for any number of law enforcement programs that I wasn’t somehow profiled and catalogued in some sort of traffic violation, gang, activist rabble-rouser police database
I can’t help but wonder while reading Paul’s essay why he wouldn’t want us to fill out these forms since one of his biggest complaints is that the government takes way too much money. In a state like Texas which many have estimated will have a substantial increase in population, resulting in another 4-5 new congressional seats, shouldn’t we be filling out these forms and getting as much of our money back as possible?
If you take alook at the Census questions, there isn’t anything being asked that isn’t on some sort of government record anyway take a look for yourself if you don’t have a census form
The one set of questions that may raise concerns are the ones asking about additional people and I can understand those who have undocumented people living in the house not wanting to fill that out..but thats a whole other conversation. Even with that in mind, with increase monies already given to ICE and 287G programs, you don’t think the fear of government track downs that Paul raises is not already realized.
To be completely honest when you look at Paul and others who take the position that the borders need to be closed and walls erected, I can easily see folks who support his position alerting law enforcement about those who are undocumented. That has nothing to do with the census and has everything to do with increased xenophobic attitudes.
Before reading Paul’s essay I’ll leave you’ll with one last thought. With so many marginalized communities especially Brown ones in Texas having large increases in populations is it possible, that folks may be whispering for us not to fill out the census as a way to keep us underserved because we’re undercounted? With states like Texas set to get no Congressional districts, shouldn’t those districts be in areas where we have large population increases and if they happen to be where folks of color are living, shouldn’t we be taking advantage? Think about it.. We’ll let Ron paul have the last word on this..
Ron Paul: Census: A Little Too Personal
Last week Congress voted to encourage participation in the 2010 census. I voted “No” on this resolution for the simple, obvious reason that the census- like so many government programs- has grown far beyond what the framers of our Constitution intended. The invasive nature of the current census raises serious questions about how and why government will use the collected information. It also demonstrates how the federal bureaucracy consistently encourages citizens to think of themselves in terms of groups, rather than as individual Americans. The not so subtle implication is that each group, whether ethnic, religious, social, or geographic, should speak up and demand its “fair share” of federal largesse.
Article I, section 2 of the Constitution calls for an enumeration of citizens every ten years, for the purpose of apportioning congressional seats among the various states. In other words, the census should be nothing more than a headcount. It was never intended to serve as a vehicle for gathering personal information on citizens.
But our voracious federal government thrives on collecting information. In fact, to prepare for the 2010 census state employees recorded GPS coordinates for every front door in the United States so they could locate individuals with greater accuracy! Once duly located, individuals are asked detailed questions concerning their name, address, race, home ownership, and whether they periodically spend time in prison or a nursing home – just to name a few examples.
From a constitutional perspective, of course, the answer to each of these questions is: “None of your business.” But why is the government so intent on compiling this information in the first place?
The Census Bureau claims that collected information is not shared with any federal agency; but rather is kept under lock and key for 72 years. It also claims that no information provided to census takers can be used against you by the government.
However, these promises can and have been abused in the past. Census data has been used to locate men who had not registered for the draft. Census data also was used to find Japanese-Americans for internment camps during World War II. Furthermore, the IRS has applied census information to detect alleged tax evaders. Some local governments even have used census data to check for compliance with zoning regulations.
It is not hard to imagine that information compiled by the census could be used against people in the future, despite claims to the contrary and the best intentions of those currently in charge of the Census Bureau. The government can and does change its mind about these things, and people have a right to be skeptical about government promises.
Yet there are consequences for not submitting to the census and its intrusive questions. If the form is not mailed back in time, households will experience the “pleasure” of a visit by a government worker asking the questions in person. If the government still does not get the information it wants, it can issue a fine of up to $5000.
If the federal government really wants to increase compliance with the census, it should abide by the Constitution and limit its inquiry to one simple question: How many people live here?