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Editorial: Did you come to your census?

Published 11:36am Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

“Census workers have been attacked by people they’re trying to interview. No one knows how many.”
- Jon Stewart

It’s easier to sing along with a bouncing ball than to follow the malleable message of the 2010 census. Let us count the ways. Friday April 16, was the last day residents across the nation could mail in their 2010 census forms.

Mailing back the form would help insure the proper share of billions in federal funds comes to the community and secure the proper number of U.S. representatives to voice community concerns in Washington, D.C.

Second, tens of millions in taxpayer dollars could be saved if the Census Bureau received questionnaires in the mail and did not have to send out enumerators.

Census Bureau Director Dr. Robert M. Groves urged everyone to beat the deadline. “Do your part to save the taxpayer money! For every 1 percent increase in the national participation rate by mail, the Census Bureau can save taxpayers $85 million by not having to send census takers door to door.

“If every household in the United States completed and mailed back their census form, taxpayers could reduce the cost of the census by $1.5 billion,” wrote Groves on his blog at

The 2010 census is a count of everyone living in the United States and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution.

Maybe we need to strike a less cajoling tone.

Census data are used to apportion congressional seats to states, to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds to tribal, state and local governments each year and to make decisions about what community services to provide.

The 2010 census form is one of the shortest in U.S. history, consisting of 10 questions, taking about 10 minutes to complete. Strict confidentiality laws protect respondents and information they provide.

We were apprised that as of April 14, 70 percent of Lansing residents had mailed back the 2010 Census form. The surrounding city of East Lansing was at a 71-percent participation rate. The national participation rate was at 67 percent. In the 2000 census, Lansing had a 76 percent participation rate.

Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm April 8 announced that the mediocre participation rate of Michigan citizens in the census was among the best in the nation.

Granholm even placed a friendly wager with Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in an effort to encourage 100-percent participation from Michigan citizens in the 2010 U.S. Census.
Michigan had been one of the top five states in the nation with a “high” mail-in participation rate, trailing only Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.

Michigan held a slim lead over Ohio in the percentage of state residents who returned their census forms.

As of April 8, census forms had been returned by 69 percent of Michigan households that received them, compared to 67 percent for Ohio.

According to the Census Bureau, the city of Livonia had the highest census participation rate in the nation (of locations with 50,000 people or more). Of the top 10 locations in this category, four were in Michigan – Livonia, Macomb Township, St. Clair Shores and Rochester Hills.

Who exactly are the 30 percent of people who can’t be bothered for a few minutes to pay their civic rent, who defy the law so they can frivolously waste taxpayer money? Do they go to bed wearing tinfoil hats so the government cannot control their thoughts? Do you think the FBI will be unable to tap your phone because you didn’t complete your form?
Think of it another way. Hundreds of thousands of men and women answer our government’s call to duty and they are serving in our armed forces right now, fighting and dying in two wars to protect our freedom. And you can’t muster enough courage in your paranoia to fill out a freakin’ form?

Our revered Constitution contains the census.

Our representational form of government is built upon it.

The census is one of the few duties of the federal government set out right there in Article 1, Section 2.

The government has your address.

They mailed you the form. We hope you fulfilled your civic obligation without forcing more money be spent.

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