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More on the census and GPS tagging

In today’s earlier post on the census, I mentioned that, starting last year, census workers have been sent out to record the GPS coordinates of every residence in the U.S. Some people were surprised by that.

So here are a pair of backgrounders. The first is totally mainstream — an NPR article from 2006 extolling the planned GPS program and mentioning its potentially “life-saving” virtues. (Although it does note, too, that private companies and others would sure like to get their hands on all that juicy data.) The second is a more recent, more speculative, and more alarmist piece from WorldNetDaily.

The factoid mentioned in the WND article — that under Obama the White House has virtually taken the census away from the Commerce Department — is true. And ominous. But the idea that the GPS tagging is an Obamist plot is absurd. The plot, if any, was hatched under “Mr. Small-Government Conservative,” George W. Bush.

Yep. More proof that — as my friend Joel Simon likes to say — the right and left wings are both attached to the same carrion bird.


  1. Gary
    Gary January 27, 2010 10:52 pm

    Regarding the 2010 census. What are the absolute minimum questions that can be answered to satisfy the Constitutional requirements for the census?

    I don’t want to give them more that what is legally required.

  2. Claire
    Claire January 28, 2010 7:30 am

    That’s a tricky question, Gary.

    The Constitution doesn’t (and can’t) require any citizen response to the census. It merely authorizes the fedgov to do a headcount. So technically, all the government is authorized to ask once every 10 years is, “How many people live here?” And you answer or not, as you see fit.

    On the other hand, federal statutes demand that we answer every question the Census Bureau thinks up, no matter how irrelevant or intrusive. And in theory there’s a fine for saying no.

    BUT … the census itself, as the nosey thing it has developed into (and the even worse American Community Survey), is not constitutional. And I have never heard of that fine ever being levied. Not once.

    I can’t counsel you or anybody else on how to handle the census. I can only tell you that most census resisters give just the number of people living at the residence, and some simply throw out their census forms and do not answer at all. I have done the former since I was a teenager (persuading my parents not to give detailed answers) and the only consequence has ever been that a polite census taker will come to the door, probing for more information — or more recently, trying to get information out of the neighbors. If you tell them politely that you won’t give more information, they go away.

    Everybody needs to decide for him or herself what course to take re the census.

    But you don’t need any document to tell you how much freedom or privacy you’re “allowed” to have. You need only your own wits, wisdom, and courage.

  3. Claire
    Claire January 28, 2010 8:29 am

    Here’s a good backgrounder on the census, on its current snoopy manifestation, and on the enormous PR push the fedgov is currently making to try to increase “compliance.”

    Have you noticed how school children are being used as census cheerleaders? Very Soviet, that.

  4. Dick
    Dick January 28, 2010 11:29 am

    If you don’t answer the questions, you WILL receive a visit. BTDT

    The question you have to ask yourself is “Is it worse to answer the questions or wind up on the list of resistors”?

    In other words, would you rather provide some relatively harmless information, or come to the attention of the authorities as “one of those subversives”?



  5. Claire
    Claire January 28, 2010 3:55 pm

    There’s no such thing as harmless information when it’s given to harmful people.

    And yes, you WILL receive a visit — from some senior citizen, glad to have the part-time employment, who’ll press you for info and tell you how your census answers will help bring in a flood of federal money, as if that were an argument no one could possibly resist.

    And then that person will go away when you nicely say no. And that will be the last you’ll ever hear of the matter.

    Yes, it’s enough to make you tremble in your little booties with fear, isn’t it? Far better to tug our humble forelocks and comply with our masters’ wishes.

  6. Suzy
    Suzy January 28, 2010 9:01 pm

    I don’t agree with anything about having to fill out the Cencus forms….they’re trying to guilt us out in Alabama running commercials of all the money the state could have received during the past ten years IF everybody had completed their census forms in 2000….noting that would be money for advocacy programs, translators, and more….hum….I don’t need an advocacy program or a translator…(and no I’m not prejudiced…..just aggravated 🙂

    Thank you for having this BLOG now! We’ve always enjoyed your thought-provoking articles! (from the writer-homesteader-in-alabama that is actually scratching out a living….thanks for your email response a couple of years ago! 🙂

  7. Dick
    Dick January 28, 2010 9:36 pm

    Why, thank you, Claire.

    I ask a perfectly straight question and you smack me with a sarcastic, holier-than-thou diatribe.

    Think I’ll ever correspond with you ever again?

    Not likely.

  8. Gary
    Gary January 28, 2010 10:51 pm

    Back in the 2000 census I submitted the form indicating that only one person lived at my address. I had received the short form.

    I subsequently received ‘the visit’ and told them I wasn’t answering any more questions. No further contact and no fine.

    I was planning on doing the same this year, but I wanted to find out some more ammunition for refusing.

    Claire: Love your writings.

  9. Dragon
    Dragon January 31, 2010 3:22 am

    George H Bush started the whole GPS craze.

  10. Mike Stahl
    Mike Stahl January 31, 2010 6:54 pm

    For what its worth, as I recall I just tossed the 2000 questionnaire in the trash-and I never heard any more about it. No one came knocking.

    Honestly, it wasn’t part of any premeditated disobedience, I just don’t like to cooperate. With anyone.

    If I’d of known that was all it took to get me on a “list”, I could have saved myself lots of trouble.

    Though my guess is some of my articles in various places over the years have me well marked by the lister-menschen. At any rate, certainly more likely than declining to fill in the dots on a silly form.

    Dick is right to be afraid-the government is a viciously dangerous thing, but so is a meteor and they can’t be controlled either. So the best thing to do is just live, and stop looking up at the sky or you’ll get bit by a snake.

  11. Pat
    Pat March 5, 2010 3:25 pm

    Have been hit with both the ACS AND the regular census. With the ACS, they sent us two of them before they showed up unannounced at dinner and caught my husband outside grilling. He answered a few questions (I told him I previously I would NOT give them answers to the intrusive questions which I felt were unconstitutional), and then the woman told him she would be back, as this was just the first of “MANY” visits. So far, she hasn’t been back. A strange minivan showed up today and I didn’t answer the door – was busy. Heard them open the screen door and then the inner door knob wiggled. Dogs were going NUTS at the door. Then the screen door shut and they left. I waited till they were gone and opened the door — sure enough, a hanging baggie with a sealed Census form in it. STILL haven’t opened it yet. I do not intend to give them ANY information other than the number of persons living here. I will mail it back to them but only answer what is required Constitutionally.

  12. Dave
    Dave June 4, 2010 4:21 pm

    Why do you folks worry about what the constitution says if the federal government doesn’t even follow the constitution?
    I will fill out the census when the feds return to abiding by the constitution.

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