Curse You, Ed Begley, Jr!

The infamous Christopher Guest-produced ad for this year’s census, featuring a stable of his favorite actors, debuted during the Super Bowl at a cost of $2.5 million, and packages the 2010 census as kind of a big national family reunion.  A census for the Facebook age.

Fortunately, it’s also a census for the twitter age, compared to the fiasco that was the 2000 census.  The Libertarian Party, and many others, urged a boycott of that survey’s numerous—53 questions, to be answered for every member of the household—intrusive and irrelevant questions, including detailed information about income, employment, home ownership, even, bizarrely, what type of fuel was used to heat the dwelling.

This year’s survey, “one of the shortest forms in history—10 questions in 10 minutes”, according to, sticks to recognizable government demographics, age, gender, race, etc.  The tone of the census bureau, however, is a 180° reversal from the language in the Constitution.  The original wording was “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers . . .  The actual Enumeration shall be made . . . within every subsequent Term of ten Years . . . .”  That is, in addition to representation, the purpose of the census was to tax.  The new and improved census, according to the bureau’s website, is to spend:

When you do the math, it’s easy to see what an accurate count of residents can do for your community. Better infrastructure. More services. A brighter tomorrow for everyone. In fact, the information the census collects helps to determine how more than $400 billion dollars of federal funding each year is spent on infrastructure and services like:

  • Hospitals
  • Job training centers
  • Schools
  • Senior centers
  • Bridges, tunnels and other-public works projects
  • Emergency services

Participation isn’t just important—it’s mandatory.

This bonanza is promulgated by a $132 million “Portrait of America” (fun!) ad campaign.

If only the founders had thought of sending a fleet of 13 trailers on a national road tour to help us learn more about the history and importance of the census.  (The Free Agent suspects there might have been a little difficulty squeezing enough talking points, vehicle number 13, serving the Seattle area, teaches us that the abacus was often made of bamboo.  Sustainable!)  If you question the importance of counting babies and young children, download a fact sheet featuring Dora the Explorer, she’ll school ya.  Got too much white space in your church bulletin?  Download the faith-based drop-in article.  Come on, America, it’s fun!  And mandatory!

You’re not anti-brighter tomorrow for everyone, are you?

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