13 Jul 2010

Breakin’ the Law, Breakin’ the Law

All Posts 12 Comments

So as I reported here a while back, I only put the number of people in our household when filling out the Census form–and I sent it it late too. Fight the power!

Now we’ve got Census guys snooping around our house. I came home when one of them was dropping off a card. He wanted me to answer a bunch of questions, but it was raining and 5pm so I said it wasn’t a good time.

The card suggests that all I have to do is call the number and tell them how many people are in my household. This is odd, since I already did do that on the original form, and the government has already spent a good $60 in manpower following up.

Does anyone know what my actual legal obligations are? Has anybody else played this game of chicken with the Census before? (And if so, did you foolishly discuss your strategy on a blog that may very well have a readership in excess of 200?)

12 Responses to “Breakin’ the Law, Breakin’ the Law”

  1. Silas Barta says:

    Yeah, it was disorganized over here too. I got the form shortly before I moved, so I was supposed to be counted at my new address, not the old one. But the form doesn’t let you specify your address; the form is just tagged with the address they sent it to, meaning they will automatically regard it as coming from the address they sent it to. And. it doesn’t tell you how to specify that you moved, even if you go to the website and look for answers to that question.

    So even though I sent it in (yes, that makes me a statist, &c), they still came looking for me and I had to kindly explain to them how screwed up their system is.

    Silas-style kindness, I mean 😉

  2. Matt C. says:

    Here is Mary Theroux at The Beacon. See the last paragraph…


  3. Steve Horwitz says:

    I did the same thing Bob, but no snoopers yet. Mine was ontime though.

  4. Taylor says:

    I’ve succeeded in blowing these monkeys off completely, so far.

  5. Todd S. says:

    I got a “follow up” call from a census worker whose only question to me was how many lived in my household. I put “follow up” in quotes because that’s what he called it even though it wasn’t so. He seemed a little flustered when I told him he was the first person from the census I’d spoken to, and I never got a form in the mail either (despite having gotten a letter notifying me that I would get one). I’m guessing some of those hard-working, formerly-unemployed (and unemployable) census workers were shirking their duties and fudging responses.

    It’s also upsetting that they called me on my cell phone which is on the national do not call list. Now, I have no doubt that the government (probably the IRS) knows my phone number, but it is concerning that they are sharing this with other agencies.

    • Todd S. says:

      Interestingly, as an addendum, I just got a voice mail from a census worker. She asked me to call her back to answer a few questions because… they are investigating their own workers. I don’t think I’m going to call her.

  6. Mike O'Grady says:

    I sent in my form with the appropriate number of individuals in my household-as is required by Article I, Section II (paragraph 3?) of the Constitution in order to apportion the House of Representatives.

    A few weeks later a census worker appeared at my door. I was informed that because I ‘failed’ to send in my census form (I didn’t fail) that the individual was doing a followup. Four cats live in my home, each of which is my proud owner (yeah, I typed that correctly). The census worker didn’t take kindly to one of them as it escaped out the door, and attempted to STOMP ON MY CAT!

    High quality hiring standards you have there, Census Department.
    Hades, Borys, Dr. Claw, and Tuna Fish Casserole are on the prowl and know exactly where to find you.

  7. Leo says:

    whoa whoa, whose blog are you talking about?

  8. david says:

    Well, since you have already provided them the information they are now specifically seeking (number of poeple in the HH), presumably you are not harming the libertarian cause by providing it again (and avoiding a fine or further unproductive bother).

    Your big mistake was not providing it on time. In the bureaucracy, that’s the ultimate problem because, unlike accuracy, it’s easily observable.

  9. Richard says:

    I filled in the form, just the number of occupants of the house, and sent it in on time. About a month later, a Census worker came by, looking for information on the vacant house across the street. I told him it was vacant and he wanted my name and phone number, and when I asked him why he wanted that, he said that it was just in case someone wanted to verify that we’d spoken. He then went on to assure me that census information is always protected as private, to which I replied: “tell that to the thousands of Americans of Japanese descent who were rounded up in WWII thanks to US Census information.” His response was classic: “Yeah, that wasn’t good, I don’t agree with that.”

    Give ’em hell Bob.

  10. Chris says:

    I also only put the number of people in my household. I have received some telephone calls (the caller ID actually read “US Census”) but I never answered and I have not had a personal visit. No MIB or black helicopters … yet.

  11. azmyth says:

    “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”

    I don’t begrudge Congress an Enumeration every now and then. If we can get them to scale back their efforts to what is explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, we’ll be doing fine.