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Ear to the Ground

One-Third Didn’t Return Census Forms

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Posted on Apr 17, 2010
Flickr / ridiculously

Not everyone has been receptive to the census: One in three American households failed to return the questionnaires by the Friday deadline.

Maybe it’s laziness or maybe it’s privacy concerns, but the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 32 percent of all U.S. households receiving census questionnaires did not return them ahead of Friday’s official deadline. Come May 1, census workers will begin pounding on the doors of the laggards. —JCL

The New York Times:

Nearly one in three Americans failed to return their census questionnaires by Friday’s official deadline, the Census Bureau said.

More forms were expected to be received over the weekend. Census workers will not begin going door to door until May 1 to count people who did not return their questionnaires by mail.

As of early Friday, the mail participation rate was 68 percent. The mail participation rate, which the bureau is using this year for the first time, is the percentage of forms mailed back by households that received them.

Unlike the mail response rate, which the census used in earlier counts, it excludes forms returned by the postal service as undeliverable, often because a house or apartment was vacant. The mail response rate was 67 percent in 2000. If the undeliverable forms had been excluded then, the mail participation rate would have been 72 percent.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, April 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment

” The Rule of Law (Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc.) applies only to us “little people.” “

Really? I didn’t know that. Tell that to Richard Nixon, and Bernie Madoff, and Rudy Blagojevich, and… need I go on?

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RAE's avatar

By RAE, April 18, 2010 at 6:45 am Link to this comment

rfidler: Since when did “illegal” mean anything to those in “authority?”

When “they” come up with some scheme that is illegal “they” either re-write the law or ignore it. It seems to me that not even the Supreme Court can effectively stop for long a determined “authority” from doing whatever it wants to do. The Rule of Law (Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc.) applies only to us “little people.”

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By Miko, April 18, 2010 at 3:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

People refused to comply with the census because they
realized that it’s the way that the government keeps
track of its property (i.e., us).  Plus, we all know
that the government is so incompetent that it can’t
carry through its threats of fining those who refuse
to respond (or, better yet, respond with fabricated

RAE: Wouldn’t work.  By setting your tax withholding
to the lowest legal level, you don’t need to worry
about the government refusing to refund a portion of
the money they stole from you.  (Better yet, if
you’re self-employed, don’t file at all.)  And unless
you’re a millionaire, the government doesn’t really
provide you with any benefits.  But as long as we’re
considering far-right authoritarian ideas like these,
maybe the government could kidnap our children and
refuse to give them back until we fill out census

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mrfreeze's avatar

By mrfreeze, April 17, 2010 at 11:27 pm Link to this comment

Just a thought:

If Joseph and Mary had refused to participate in the Census, we would not have endured 2 thousand years of Christian baloney. The world would have been (IMO) a much better place.

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thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, April 17, 2010 at 9:19 pm Link to this comment

They want to know what?

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, April 17, 2010 at 6:36 pm Link to this comment

Except, of course, that that would be illegal. There is no “or else” clause in the census law.

The Constitution requires that a head count be performed every ten years SOLELY for the purpose of apportioning congressional districts. There is NO constitutional requirement for the government to discover your race, your marital status, or whether or not you are Hispanic. Now, of course, the census is used to apportion wealth redistribution as well as gerrymandering bizarre-looking congressional districts. Maybe a big part of the non-responders were wary of that sorry fact.

Actually, I’m surprised that 66% of the population found time to tear themselves away from American Idol to respond.

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RAE's avatar

By RAE, April 17, 2010 at 4:04 pm Link to this comment

In Canada, the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) is partially refunded on a sliding scale to lower income folks… BUT ONLY IF THEY SUBMIT AN INCOME TAX RETURN every year.

In a similar manner, many low or no income pensioners receive a “top up” to the Old Age Pension (that everyone is entitled to) called the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)... BUT ONLY IF THEY SUBMIT AN INCOME TAX RETURN every year (even if they don’t owe a cent in tax).

I submit that perhaps the response rate to the Census might go up a bit if such refunds and/or benefits would be withheld until the Census form was received in a timely manner and completed at least as far as the basic census-related questions are concerned.

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