Thursday, March 25, 2010


Like just about every other home in the U.S. the census came in the mail the other day. Those nosy folks at the bureau have made it easy to stand up and be counted. It’s not like the old days when Quirinius was governor of Syria. I didn’t have to travel by donkey to the home of my ancestors.

The single sheet message from the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau (that sounds like a good job) states in bold print: “Please complete and mail back the enclosed census form today.” I got mine on the 16th of March. They wanted me to fill it out with information pertaining to April 1st, which on my calendar is about two weeks in the future.

On the first page of the 2010 Census it states, “The Census must count every person living in the United States on April 1st, 2010.” This reference date is used no less than 15 more times throughout the form. So unless you are a time traveler visiting from tomorrow land you cannot, with any certainty, answer about a future event. Yet, the Census Bureau requires us to do that very thing.

To verify this nonsense I went to the official web site: There it stated that, “Households should complete and mail back their forms upon receipt. Ideally, all forms will be returned by Census Day on April 1, 2010.” Census Day? Are gifts or flowers expected?

Any day prior to April 1st where this form was completed and returned makes any and all answers a bunch of good guesses at best. You see, they want you to answer the questions from the perspective of April 1st. But all you can do is hope, Lord willing (as my Dad used to say), that your answers (and life) will be the same on April 1st as they are on the day you did your civic duty. The fast forward calendar treatment makes some questions even more senseless than others.

The first question asks, “How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010?” Then to make sure you weren’t lying or forgot to imagine that someone might be there by the 1st, they repeat it in Question 2: “Were there any additional people staying here April 1, 2010 that you did not include in Question 1?”

Then to help you along they give you five possible answers, (I have included my five possible comments).

“Children, such as newborn babies or foster children,” (oh, you mean the kids. Are they people too?).

“Relatives, such as adult children, cousins, or in-laws,” (how would Gomez Addams have answered this?).

“Nonrelatives, such as roommates or live-in baby sitters,” (I think Fraulein Maria came uncomfortably close to satisfying both of these non-relative subsets before she became Mrs. Captain Von Trapp. But that was Austria – so never mind.).

“People staying here temporarily,” (how temporary – an hour, two days, out the door April 2nd? It doesn’t say.).

“No additional people," (that’s it, now you’re catching on. Please refer to Question #1 if you need further clarification.).

I’ll let the bureau handle the race and national origin questions. Anything I say would only make it worse. Why can’t they ask something simple and straight forward like: Ginger or Mary Ann, or not counting winter, which is your favorite season?

In these days the federal government issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire United States. This census took place while Pawlenty was governor of Minnesota. And everyone took out his own pen to register.

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