Counting Us

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It seems a bit early to be writing about the 2020 national Census but there’s a lot of jabber going around about the goods and bads that are about to come down upon our heads next year.           

You are probably not old enough to have ever filled out a Census form or been queried by Census taker knocking on your front door. The U.S. Census Bureau had only 6 questions in the very first poll of those living in America: 1) Name of the head of household; 2) number of free white males 16 and older; 3) number of free white males under 16; 4) number of free white females; 5: number of all other free persons living on/in the property; and 6) number of slaves owned. The first count was taken by 650 U.S. marshals who went house to house (unannounced) on horseback to anywhere they could find people (white people). The Washington Post reported this first count cost $45,000, but our government (GAO) is predicting the 2020 census will cost $15.6 billion or about $100 per household.           

WTF do we need a census? There are at least nine censuses mentioned in the Bible. They were taken to figure out how to, and how much to tax people to run cities, governments and empires. We have a count every 10 years in our country. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2010 74% of households returned their forms by mail. Those who didn’t send in the form were tracked down by an arm of paid census workers to get the data. This information is collected and then released to our government and any of us who want to see it and is used for a bazillion reasons, to wit:  allocating federal funds for community and education programs, education, housing, health care services for the elderly and job training; determining where state, local and tribal funds will be distributed for new schools, roads, bridges, law enforcement, and fire departments. Our 911 systems are based on maps from the last census and it helps rescuers plan ahead for disasters. Census data can help you qualify for a pension and help establish your citizenship. That last one is what’s all a buzz in the media.           

The question whether the statement ‘ARE YOU A U.S. CITIZEN’ is in the courts. The Trump Administration wants that question asked of all people within our borders. Opponents fear illegals will not answer the census at all, which could mean less data in some areas. Less numbers means that an area would lose Electoral Votes during a presidential election, federal funding coming in, and the number of political representatives that area would have in Congress. The Census is coming, and the final questions haven’t yet been decided. Will there be queries into the number of wives live in a household? If married LGBT people will be recognized as legally wed? How will transpeople be counted if their birth certificate is different than how they present?  We’ll know these answers very, very soon.