Virtual People

September 11, 1998
Have you ever heard of "virtual people"? No, that's not a video game, but it is a game some in government want to play with the U.S. Census. Let me explain.

For more than two centuries, the federal government has operated under the mandate imposed by the Constitution to preform an actual count of the number of people in the country. The phrase used in the Constitution is "actual enumeration." The U.S. government counts the population every decade so that we can correctly apportion the seats in the House of Representatives.

The Clinton administration proposes that during the next census, we not only count people but use a statistical sampling technique. In other words, we would count only 90 percent of America's noses and merely guesstimate the rest. This would be approximately 27 million people, what I call "virtual people."

Now why does the administration want to do this? Well, it turns out that there may be an under-counting of people in certain urban areas like New York City, especially among non-English speaking immigrants. Many of these immigrants are illegal immigrants, and others simply are hard to make contact with.

But if you look at the 1990 census, you have got to wonder whether we need sampling at all. The Census Bureau estimates that it was 98.4 percent accurate. Introducing sampling in the census is not only unconstitutional but could introduce fraud in the system. And that is essentially what three federal judges ruled recently. But the Clinton administration is determined to fight this issue all the way to the Supreme Court.

Census sampling is a bad idea. We don't need 27 million "virtual people." The Constitution had it right all along. Counting noses is still the best way to count the population.

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

© 1998 Probe Ministries International