The mailman delivered our family’s census form yesterday. According to the Census Bureau, our form was among 120 million others mailed out over the weekend. It consisted of ten questions that covered our household’s ages, relationships, racial & sexual attributes. And, oh yeah, they wanted to know if we owned or rented our home. The whole questionnaire took about two minutes to fill out. I’ve spent a lot more time and given out a lot more information setting up on-line profiles so I could gain access to Ticketmaster-type or foodie websites.
If memory serves me right (and I’ve been around for a few census counts) this decade’s form had fewer questions than ever before. I didn’t feel that my privacy was violated in any way. So I had to wonder what all the noise around the internet/news media over the past year was all about. So I cranked up the official OB Rag wayback machine (also known as the Google) to revisit the issues at hand.
Here’s a “top five” list of the conspiracy theories that were making their way around the web over the past year.
1. At the top of the list has to be Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann for telling people to not participate in the census, saying that she didn’t trust ACORN with her personal information (never mind that ACORN has never collected census data), that the census would lay the groundwork for World War II-style internment camps, and that the government was trying to gather information about people’s mental health. But then, the largest newspaper in Bachmann’s state of Minnesota warned people that if they don’t participate in the census, the state stood to lose a seat in Congress. You see, the main purpose of the census is to determine how many representatives each state receives in the House, and other states are growing faster than Minnesota. And irony of ironies, if they do lose a seat, the district that is most likely to be dissolved and merged into the other districts is … wait for it … district, currently represented by Bachmann. Curiously, Bachmann has not said anything against the census lately.
2. Over at Infowars.com, a virtual cauldron of conservative conspiracies, much is being made of the adoption of GPS by census-takers (Used in rural areas where addresses may not exist). Could it be a way of targeting “undesirables” for missile-drone attacks? Waste of ammo if you ask me.
3. The American Daily Review suggests that the Census GPS is a way to help United Nations personnel round people up after Obama lets foreign troops control the country. Watch out for those pesky Canadians! They probably want to impose their health care system on you and your family.
4. Anti-tax activist Neal Boortz thinks the Census is being used to take away your property and give it to the “moochers.” He needs to get out of the radio studio and interact with the real world. By the way, Neal, got a quarter you can lend me?
5. Michelle Malkin suggests Obama aims to use the Census to undermine border control and give “the Left” a “permanent ruling majority” with the help of undocumented immigrants. Does the Census Bureau have a secret ray gun or something that will make herding cats easy?
The best thing about all these paranoid fantasies is that they look even sillier a year later.
Now, on the other hand, if you want to complain about the Census Bureau, start with my story.
Last year, in the throes of an unemployment nightmare, I applied to the Census Bureau. Without boring you too much, let’s just say I have an interesting resume: tons of experience in inventory, number crunching, and managing people, coupled with top-shelf references and a history of job stability.
The Census Bureau requires all prospective employees to pass a background check, wait by the phone for their call and take a written exam. I was pretty sure that I had first two items covered, so I went down to the employment center on University Avenue and took the test. It was not all that hard, but you couldn’t tell that from the reactions of the people who were taking the test with me. I started to worry that I was missing something on the test, like maybe the questions were all trick questions.
The tests were scored while we waited. I came through with a score of 94 out of a hundred. The Census people at the center explained to us that people with lower scores (below 82, as I recall) should come back and try taking the test again. The rest of us were to go home and wait. If you’ve had to look for a job lately, you get mighty good at that waiting stuff. So I waited. And waited. And waited some more.
Other people I know got letters explaining that they hadn’t passed their background checks. I didn’t get one of those letters. I didn’t get squat. No phone call, nothing. I left messages. No return calls came.
So yesterday, after filling out the Census form, I figured I’d call one more time. Guess what happened? They lost track of me.
If you want something to worry about when it comes to the Census, consider that. Now I’m worried that they’ll lose my questionnaire and I’ll end up with a bunch of GPS toting ACORN members on my doorstep wanting to ask questions.
I wonder if Neal Boortz can help me….