Stand up and be counted in the census

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 6, 2010

From time to time, we are surprised by the comments our online readers leave on our Web site, but perhaps never more than the response to a weekend story about the 2010 Census.

Some leaving comments, who one can only assume are representative of our community, feel the Census is intrusive and don’t want the government to have information about them.

Another stated that the “government didn’t help her when she was sick and she wouldn’t help the government,” while still another didn’t want to be bothered by Census workers asking about the size of his house.

The Census is not an American invention. Archeologists have found ancient census records from the Egyptians dating back to 3000 BC.

But Americans found it to be a helpful tool, and in 1787, the United States became the first nation to make a census mandatory in its constitution. Article One, Section Two of this historic document directs that “Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states … according to their respective numbers…” It describes how the people of the United States would be counted and when.

The first census was taken in 1890 and included six questions, including two about the numbers of “free white males” in the household. Later, it was expanded to include additional information.

The information collected by the U.S. Census Bureau each decade is used to determine where the government will spend $400 billion each year on infrastructure, including hospitals, job training centers, schools, senior centers, bridges and other-public works projects and emergency services.

Those who “don’t want to help the government because it didn’t help me” decrease the amount of help local residents can receive from the government when they refuse to participate.

The information also is used to accurately draw district lines for federal, state and local political offices. If all of us are not counted, we could lose representation in Congress, the state house and the courthouse.

You don’t want to be bothered by a census worker? Fill out the form you receive in the mail and return it and you’ll never see a census worker. How difficult is that?

The data collected in the census is critical to our county’s ability to receive grants and for the drawing of district lines.

We hope you’ll fill out the forms and spare yourselves the trouble of visiting with a census worker. Our community is depending upon you!