My Thoughts, Exactly
Down for the count
by Jim CHASE
Last week, I was sifting through the usual stack of bills and other postal debris that finds its way into our mailbox each day, when one envelope in particular caught my eye. Could it be? Had my long-awaited United States Census 2010 form arrived? The official looking bright white #10 envelope I held with trembling hands did indeed say it was from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration U.S. Census Bureau. Be still my beating heart.
Unconsciously holding my breath, I tore open the envelope and removed – a single sheet of paper. Now, I’d heard that Census officials had made he 2010 questionnaire more streamlined and easy to answer, but seriously? Only one piece of paper? Then I read the letter from none other than Robert M. Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, who with grand eloquence and soaring rhetoric said, “Dear, Resident: About one week from now, you will receive a 2010 Census form in the mail. When you receive your form, please fill it out and mail it in promptly.”
That’s it? Surely there must be more. Even the great and powerful U.S. Census Bureau wouldn’t send out such a slap-in-the-face example of government waste and inefficiency as this. Would they? I looked inside the envelope thinking maybe I missed an enclosed instructional CD ROM or brochure. I turned the letter over and held it up to the sunlight. No secret message. No nothing. Just a one-pager sent to essentially say; we’re sending you this to let you know that we’ll soon be sending you something else.
I did some research on the Bureau’s own web site and learned that this useless “advanced notice” mailer would be sent to over 130 million addresses across the U.S. But wait, it gets better. Because, according to the Kansas City Star newspaper (www.kansascity.com, Mar. 06, 2010), the Bureau will also send out at least 28 million pieces of mail they expect to be dumped in the trash since they will be sent to addresses that do not exist or are known to be vacant. You can’t make this stuff up.
It’s no wonder that in March of 2008 federal auditors designated the 2010 Census to be in a “High Risk Area” of federal spending due to “weak management of purchases … and inaccurate cost estimates.” Ya think?
I watched a spokesperson for the 2010 Census on CNN last Sunday. Without blinking an eye, he told the interviewer that the expected cost of the upcoming survey was $48 per counted person, or nearly $15 billion. That’s a 15 with nine zeros of our tax dollars after it, folks. It’s also a heckuva lot more than the $16 million the last U.S. Census cost back in 2000. Which, not surprisingly, was considerably more than the cost of the first Census held in 1790, which set the colonial taxpayers back a paltry $44,000.
Then again, this is the same government that wants to add two-and-a-half TRILLION dollars (at least) to the federal deficit by taking over health care, which represents one sixth of our economy. With a straight face they say the costs will more than be covered by eliminating fraud, incompetence and corruption. Yeah, right. Just like they’ve already done so effectively with Medicare, education, the DMV, the Postal Service and – oh right, the Census Bureau.
It’s not much, but I do have an immediate response to this latest bit of federal foolishness. When my actual Census form finally arrives in the mail, I’m going to make photocopies of the blank pages, fold and neatly place them into an envelope, and then mail it back to the assembled genius pool at the U.S. Census Bureau with a note attached saying, “I’m sending this incomplete 2010 Census form to let you know that I will soon be sending you a completed version in the coming weeks.” Wonder how long before they come knocking?
I’ll see you ‘round town.