Friday, March 26, 2010

I wonder....

We hear all this talk lately about how dire the US's financial situation is. Everybody's broke. Everybody's sacrificing "in this economy". America is in debt up to our ears.

So, I found it curious when a few weeks ago, Justin and I both received letters in the mail that it was our civic duty to fill out the census, and that not doing so would be punishable by jail time (in big bold letters).

Aside from making me really NOT want to fill out the census, because I don't like doing things when I'm threatened, I had to stop and wonder--how much did it cost to send these letters out to the majority of US citizens? I mean, between paper, envelopes, printer ink, and paying someone to stuff the envelopes (or supervise the machine that stuffs the envelopes), that's probably a pretty hefty bill.

And I got a little irritated--sure, the census is important, but wouldn't it make more sense to wait and send the letters only to people who haven't returned the census by the deadline? Don't we have more important things that we could be spending that money on?

Even though I was quite perturbed by this letter, we went ahead and filled out the census, and mailed it back.

And can you guess what arrived in our mail box just the other day? A postcard. Saying 'By now, you should have received your census. Don't forget to fill out the 10 questions in 10 minutes, and mail it back. Failure to do so is punishable by jail time!!!!!'

Seriously? Was this really necessary? It seems like a huge waste of time and money to me....


  1. I received a census as well and thought the same thing to myself! Of course I filled it out, mailed it back and not only have I gotten one of those nasty little "punishable by jail time" postcards but I've gotten 2! Unreal!

  2. I KNOW!!
    I said the same exact thing to my hubby. If they have to do the census, just mail the census form, thats it.
    Not the other 3 letters we got (waste of paper, postage, manpower) saying that the cenusus was coming, we should have recieved our census, dont forget your census....
    I am so glad someone else feels the same way. =D

  3. Seriously! On top of that, they pay the people that help with the census between $11.5 and $14 an hour. Most people have to have a college degree or some kind of special training to make that much!

  4. Yep. Pissed that they sent a letter telling us that they would be sending the census. We sent it in the same day we got it and STILL received a post card the next week anyway.


    Not only that but it's also a WASTE OF PAPER!!! Way to be green, government.

  5. Waste of time, waste of money, waste of paper. Ugh.

  6. I totally agree. I filled it out and mailed it back and still got the card. Not only that, but the then I think about them putting someone in jail. The amount of money they would spend on that is ridiculous. Government spending makes me want to pull my hair out.

  7. If you are asking for an honest opinion, I did laugh out loud when I read that on the front of my Census Form. However, I also read something about research that shows that this actually works to get people to send in the Census.

    Is it a waste? Maybe. But, I think it's pretty important to get the Census' in, and there are probably a lot of people who haven't turned them in. And, if the postcard reminded them, I guess it served a purpose.

    For me, telling me that education dollars come from the Census is actually a better motivator. But no one asked me. And, there are so many other things that get my blood boiling, this is the least of my worries.

    (You are sorry you asked, huh?)

  8. As long as China is forthcoming with the loans....

    On the other hand, since the Census is how we apportion a lot of the funds and functions that make our government work, I can understand the desire to make sure people fill it out.

    Also, I wonder if there might higher labor costs required by sending mailings to specific households rather than everyone, which could balance out the extra cost in material resources.

    Look at me, defending the guhment's actions. Heh.

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  10. As to the constitutional basis for the Census, it's Article 1, Section 2:

    "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. 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."

    That bit about "in such Manner as they shall by Law direct" means Congress can make it a legal obligation to fill out the Census.

    (This was later amended to get rid of the whole slaves are three-fifths of a person thing. See the 14th Amendment.)

  11. I had the same thoughts when those same documents arrived at our house.

    However, I have also heard that the money spent on these mailings has been proven to increase the response rate by mail and thereby decreases the money spent on paying people that have to then go door-to-door to those that don't respond. So, in the end, it saves money overall.

    I hope I said that in a way that makes sense.

  12. Ditto what Kim and Krystle said above. Seems silly but it is less expensive this way.

    (Also I work for a company that utilizes the mail sorters/stuffers. We use it on a much much smaller scale. It's pretty neat! Virually no humans are needed.)

  13. I didn't even think about all that!! Good point and I completely agree with you!!

    I wonder what really happens if you don't do it?!

  14. As an employee of a company that gets funding based on census numbers I agree it seems redundant and a waste of money for those of us who would have filled it out without multiple letters and threats to get that much notification about it.

    But the bottom line is, the census is important, and people don't fill it out. Despite being irritated by what I've received in my mail box here's why I'm OK with it.

    1)They have to reach everyone with that mail, even the idiots, which is why for smart responsible people it seems ridiculous.

    2)This is a federal government procedure, and there are many people who hate/are wary of the federal government and won't fill it out. Some people have to get the jail time threat.

    The best way to prevent this waste and stupid threats in the future: fill out your census and get your neighbors and family and friends to fill it out before they have to send an agent to knock on your door(which is what happens next if you don't send it in).

  15. It does seem a bit excessive! Hopefully everyone will fill out their census since money is so tight and should be distributed to those who really need it.

    BTW, I moved the headers on the left side of my blog for now so you should be able to read it. Hopefully it will be permanently fixed in the next few days. Thanks for all of your help, you found my issue! I am forever grateful...



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