Census 2000

April 4, 2000

The Constitution authorizes the federal government to conduct a census every ten years to "enumerate" the number of people residing in America in order to determine representation in Congress. But the 2000 census is attempting to do a lot more than the Constitution requires.

If you received the short form of the census in the mail, you may not know what all the fuss in about. It asks a few questions about gender and race. You fill it out and send it in.

But if you received the long form of the census in the mail, you already know why there has been such an outcry. There are 53 questions in the long form, and that hides the fact that many of the questions are 3-part or 4-part questions. You are asked about your income, how you get to work, when you leave, how many bathrooms you have, and even how much you pay annually for water and sewers. No wonder so many people see the 2000 census as a major invasion of privacy!

I have said that if I sat down with my best friend over lunch and asked even half of these questions, I would probably be told to mind my own business. And yet the Census Bureau is trying to collect answers to these questions from one in every six Americans. I say "trying to collect" because there is growing evidence that many Americans are refusing to fill out their forms. Although there are penalties for not answering every question, the Census Bureau does not appear to be ready to levy such fines.

The growing criticism of the 2000 census is but one more illustration of a government seeking to do more than the Constitution requires and running into opposition from citizens who believe that the government wants to know too much.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.