Taking Leave of My Census?

Stephen H. Foerster

Not voting is easy. All one has to do is spend that particular day doing something productive instead of going to cast a ballot. No one comes bothering him if he goes fishing instead. Fines aren’t levied, penalties not imposed. (Any Iraqis or Australians reading this: I understand that you’re an exception and I appreciate your bravery in even reading my words.)

But now the United States of America is holding its decennial census, and they would have us believe that participation in this survey is a bit more mandatory. They justify this by saying that they need one hundred percent participation in order to be able to apportion legislative districts and to “fairly” determine how much of the federal budget each regional and municipal sub-state should get. Since I wish them neither to apportion legislative districts nor redistribute wealth, I’m unimpressed with these particular motivations.

Fortunately for them, “land of the free” is just an obsolete epithet here, and there’s always the old standby for states to use to motivate people — pointing guns at them. You knew that was in there somewhere, right? Not responding to their survey supposedly carries a one hundred dollar fine, responding with false information carries a five hundred dollar fine.

But you know what? I’m not going to answer it anyway. I received the form the other day and I’m going to give it the shredding it deserves. It’s not like they couldn’t fill it in themselves from information they already have about my family. I have no illusions that there’s anything they might want to know about me that isn’t available. But participation in their census is a statement of support for their political system, and that’s a statement in which I do not believe and utterly refuse to make.

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