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June 19, 2009

The U.S. Census, enabler of the nanny state

As the Obama administration gears up for next year’s census, we are reminded how far this decennial ritual has drifted from its constitutional roots.
Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution indicates that the exclusive purpose of the census was to provide an accurate headcount of the citizens of each state, for the purpose of apportioning Representatives and direct taxes.
The 16th amendment severed the relationship between the headcount and direct taxes, so the remaining sole legitimate purpose of the U.S. Census is to determine how many representatives each state gets.
Accordingly, the only legitimate questi0n on the census form should be: How many people live in your household?
In recent decades, the census form had grown into a monster, “asking” that households provide information that reached into the farthest corners of their personal lives.
Why would the federal government want to know all of this? Because virtually every unconstitutional action in which it engages depends on this knowledge.
This time around, most of the intrusive demographic questions has been pulled out of the census form, instead asking only for the following: name, sex, age, date of birth, race, ethnicity, relationship and housing tenure. While this is much better than before, it still violates the original intent of the census. This is why U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann has vowed to return her family’s form with only the headcount filled in.
This doesn’t mean that the government has lost its appetite for the data that was removed from the census, though – instead, that data will be collected through the annual American Community Survey. As you can see from the official sample of the 2009 Survey, respondents are asked to pretty much bare all.
By separating this data collection from the census, the government can now claim that the census is no longer politicized. Smart move on their part. They still get what they want, and they disarm their critics at the same time.
Armed with its ACS data, updated yearly instead of every ten years (and with much less fanfare than accompanies the census), the nanny state is well-equipped to carry on.

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