Monday, January 25, 2010


A couple of weeks ago our local park held a winter festival. In the main parking lot, I was surprised to see a booth for the 2010 census, complete with a Personalized Census Truck.

I'm all for the census. It seems like a good idea. Plus, it's in the Constitution, and we always do what the Constitution says.

However, it is troubling to me that it is apparently necessary to convince 500 people at a time to fill out their forms by going to small-town winter festivals and giving them free mousepands and travel mugs and windshield scrapers with the census logo on them. Are there people who do not know we are constitutionally bound to count ourselves every ten years? How else would we know how many representatives we should get in Congress? And if you got something from the government in the mail, wouldn't you read it and then, as long as it doesn't seem insane to you, do what it says? I guess the answers are Yes, Magic, and No, for if I reveal my identity to the government, they might try to give me health care.

I'm not really all that incensed. The estimated budget for the 2010 census is $11 billion. There are about 308 million residents, so that works out to about $35 per person, which is pretty reasonable. The cost of making a few hundred thousand cheap products with the census logo on them is probably only a small fraction of that $11 billion. I'm just suggesting that if any government organization should need to market itself, it shouldn't be the census. It should be the ones we all have good reason to dislike, such as Congress, the IRS, and the DMV. The Census Bureau just wants us to be reasonably accurately represented. Why is everything about the government backwards?

That having been said, I do not EVER want to be given a windshield scraper with Nancy Pelosi's face on it, so I guess I should be grateful it hasn't come to that.


Matthew said...

If the number of representatives gets determined by magic, J.K. Rowling wins. The whole 'Potter' series is an allegory.... for the future.

Since most governmental forms are butt-ugly, I'll be intrigued to see if Obama's awesome design team was given the ability to have any input in the census forms. I'm fairly certain the answer is "definitely not." How I wish that "Gotham Book" was instated as the new National Font.

Simon said...

I'm entertained that your concern here is the design of the forms. Hahahaha. They must redesign them every time, though, because the questions they want to ask probably change a little. Someone's got to design them, so why shouldn't they be pretty? And if they're not, maybe there will be a comments section (ha!) where you can give advice.