Monday, April 12, 2010

Census 2010 - Why fill it out?

You had better fill out that form that's been laying on your dining room table for weeks. It's very important. Why should you take 30 minutes of your valuable time to fill it out, and send it back? has the answer:

When you do the math, it's easy to see what an accurate count of residents can do for your community. Better infrastructure. More services. A brighter tomorrow for everyone.

Huh? What about the simple process of counting people results in there being more available total resources, services and better infrastructure for all? Counting is an act of creation? I thought counting was an act of tabulation? Hmmm. Maybe I'll count my fingers and toes while thinking of a Ferrari and one will materialize... Nope. No dice. The 'do the math' portion of the above quoted section is one of the most priceless bits of irony I've ever come across.

In fact, the information the census collects helps to determine how more than $400 billion dollars of federal funding each year is spent on infrastructure and services like:

Job training centers
Senior centers
Bridges, tunnels and other-public works projects
Emergency services

Now this part I understand. Certainly census data can be used to determine how resources are to be allocated (not created.) The disingenuous part is that they advertise this fact as though resources will always be allocated in a way that benefits you and your community, which is not necessarily true. Resources are finite by definition, and allocation involves taking resources and directing them toward some people and away from others. If resources were infinite then there would be no need to take a census. Simply utilize your infinite resource when and where ever they are needed. An honest commercial for the census would say something more along the lines of:

"Please fill out the form because we need the information in order to figure out how to optimally utilize our resources. This may mean funding goes toward you and your community, or it may be discovered that your community already receives an excess of it's fair share of the resources, in which case you would receive less funding and subsequent benefits."

I'm not saying you shouldn't fill it out. You probably should because it will help them (whoever 'they' are) make better informed decisions about how to allocate resources and other things. Just be aware that this could mean negative consequences for you individually.

1 comment:

  1. Or perhaps they ought to have said, "Because government services cannot measure demand due to the fact that we're not a market process, we need to collect statistics so that we can try to artificially restructure the way you live."

    Of course, the day government says that on census forms is the day the census stops collecting so much data . . .