Ongoing Census: The American Community Survey

Maybe I would have thought nothing sinister about the American Community Survey, but earlier this year the IRS was found to be targeting conservatives for audits, the NSA was found to be spying on Americans, and the DOJ was found to be intimidating and inappropriately  investigating journalists. So now, when this yearly portion of the normally once every ten years census arrived at my house, I had to pause.

This survey is much more in depth than the general census, which makes you wonder who will have access to the information, and what they will do with it. Since this information is linked with a specific address, will the EPA show up if Answer Page 5 Question 5, “IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS, what were the actual sales of all agricultural products from this property”, to tell me that I have violated some regulation invented by an unelected board? Will the IRS audit me if I answer “$1,000 to $2,499” but this does not appear on my tax filing? Or will the USDA confiscate my goods deeming them “unfit for human consumption”?

Seeing as making a phone call outside of the US could mean the NSA listening in, and seeing as reporting the wrong thing as a journalist could get the DOJ on top of you, why should I feel safe answering intrusive questions from the government about my lifestyle, energy usage, type of home, family, or how many acres I live on? It starts with the fact that this was mailed out claiming the response is required. Well then send the gestapo, because according to the Constitution, the US government can go pound sand. (The survey reminds me of the scene at the beginning of the movie “Inglorious Bastards” where Col. Hans Landa questions the neighbors of a Jewish family about how many daughters the family had, their names, and where they are now.)

“Is there a business (such as a store or barber shop) or a medical office on this property?” I don’t know, am I incriminating myself for violating some unknown law if I answer yes?

They want to know in your residence how many rooms, if it is an apartment and how many units in the building, if it is a mobile home and if it has flush toilets, running water and electricity. Is your name placed on a Child Protective Services watch list (like the NSA one or the terrorist watch list) for bad parenting if a no flush, mobile home corresponds to a home with children in it?

Which FUEL is used MOST for heating this house, apartment, or mobile home? …

IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS what was the cost of water and sewer…

What is the monthly rent…

The survey even breaks it down into questions about each person living in the home, identified by name, sex date of birth, race, etc. and asks specific questions of each person.

Please print below the specific major(s) of any BACHELOR’S DEGREES this person has received…

Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions?

…walking or climbing stairs?

…dressing or bathing?

Has this person ever served on active duty in the US Armed Forces…

And perhaps the reason for the survey really is to gather geographical and social data about the population of the US, but our government has proven it cannot be trusted with this type of information. This is because people in positions of power have proven again and again to abuse it, like Lois Lerner from the IRS, and the NSA officials who spied (or stalked with government provided equipment and databases) love interests. That is why I don’t trust information in the government’s hands such as:

What time did this person usually leave home to go to work LAST WEEK? …

Was this person – … an employee of a PRIVATE FOR-PROFIT company… PRIVATE NOT-FOR-PROFIT… a state GOVERNMENT employee… SELF-EMPLOYED in own NOT INCORPORATED business…

What kind of work was this person doing?

And finally on the back of the form, the government survey tells you to make sure you have listed everyone’s name that lives in the house, and answered all questions from each one. Then, again, they pretend that this is a mandatory survey.

Respondents are not required to respond to any information collection unless it displays a valid approval number from the Office of Management and Budget. This 8-digit number appears in the bottom right on the front cover of this form.

So they are saying that the response is in fact required. To that I would direct the Office of Management and Budget to the Fourth Amendment which enshrines our right to be secure in our homes, persons, papers and effects against unreasonable search and seizure. Forcing someone to disclose the information on their papers, forcing them to tell the government about their effects, and forcing them to search their own home and report back to the government is certainly a violation of this amendment.

Exhibit B: the Fifth Amendment: no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”. This relates back to why you should never talk to police if you can avoid it. I would refuse to answer every question in that survey on the basis of refusing to incriminate myself if I happen to answer incorrectly, if I didn’t know about some law which I tip the government off to violations of, or if my false response to any question would be held against me in criminal proceedings.

And with this government’s track record, I would not put it past them to do any of these sketchy things I mentioned. So thanks US Census Bureau but no thanks; you’ll have to take that information by force from my email’s that you read.

2 thoughts on “Ongoing Census: The American Community Survey

  1. Pingback: Census Fudges Jobs, Defense Fudges Spending | Vigilant Vote

  2. Pingback: Census Fudges Jobs, Defense Fudges Spending | Joe Jarvis

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