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The census and the death of civil society

One more reason to resist the census, courtesy of that great thinker and great lady, Wendy McElroy.

One way in which civil society breaks down — and social engineering ascends — is by making individuals turn against each other so that the peaceful activities of my neighbor are seen as harmful to me. Most of the current arguments for participation in the American census are based on the idea that my desire for privacy damages society. How?

Last year one of my acquaintances was thrilled to get a job doing preliminary census work (e.g. GPS tagging other people’s homes). She just flat-out did not understand when I told her she was always welcome at my house as a friend, but that if I ever caught her on my property in her official capacity, I would … er, escort her politely to the road and leave her there with a friendly salute of farewell. (I leave it to the astute reader to picture the particular form of salute.)

Saying “no” to intrusive census questions is a nice little act of beginner resistance — and equally good for keeping veteran freedomistas in prime form. 🙂


  1. Winston
    Winston January 26, 2010 9:49 am

    A fun way to mess with census people:

    Census taker:”Hi, I’m from the government and how many people live here blah blah blah”

    Me:”Oh, I’m from the government too, what’s your security clearence?”

    Census taker:”???”


  2. Matt
    Matt January 26, 2010 10:58 am

    I have declined to participate in the Census in past years and will continue to do so. So far, the world has not caved in around me.

  3. Richard
    Richard January 26, 2010 12:25 pm

    The absurdity of the whole process amazes me. Questionaires are often sent by mail. Now really this is insane I do everythng online so the only mai I get goes to trash as junk. And if you don’t fill it out they threaten you with harsh language in another mailing. The last census I responded to was one of these mail questionairs. I filled it out because I wanted to see how well I could construct the details and make-up of Papa bear’s family and their adopted child Goldy Locks found abandoned in their home a few years back. Really now why do they bother when they have and use much better methods of counting the future serfs Just a waste of our money.

  4. George Potter
    George Potter January 26, 2010 3:15 pm


    Never let anyone call that a typo. Swear the extra S connotes Germanic fervor. 😉

    Might be a good tactic against gestapos. When confronted, not only co-operate fully, but drill the goon himself on his loyalty to the state. 😛

  5. John Smith
    John Smith January 26, 2010 5:17 pm


    What do you mean by GPS tagging someone’s home? And how do they do it?

  6. Claire
    Claire January 26, 2010 5:43 pm

    John Smith, in 2009, the Census Bureau sent agents out to (as they claimed) record the GPS coordinates of every home in the United States. I never personally saw an agent doing this, but my understanding is that they were sent out into the field with GPS-enabled computers and instructions to get within 40 feet of the front door of every residence, and record the coordinates.

    Yes, it’s for our “permanent record.” The tagging has no legitimate (that is, constitutional) purpose. It’s just one more bit of intrusive data to be used by law enforcement, code enforcers, or anyone else in the nanny crowd. My acquaintance who actually did some of the tagging assured me the purpose was to “ensure honest elections.” Uh huh. And to “make sure there’s a fair distribution of money.” Can you spell P-R-O-P-A-G-A-N-D-A?

    I expect that there will be a continuing effort by census takers in 2010 and takers of the (even worse and ongoing) American Community Survey to record the coordinates of our homes and place them into a database.

  7. Winston
    Winston January 26, 2010 6:16 pm

    Honestly, I don’t get why the government, which has the most advanced satelite technology in the world (not counting plain old google earth) and already knows our adresses, feels the need to go around collecting coordinates in person. Infact I bet they have computer programs that could run the adress and match them up with GPS coordinates.

    So is doing it in person really more conveneint, or is it just our creepy old uncle sam waving his d*ck around again?

  8. George
    George January 26, 2010 7:33 pm

    Interesting. Wonder how apartments worked.

  9. Militant Libertarian » Preparing for the census
    Militant Libertarian » Preparing for the census January 31, 2010 6:24 am

    […] things are “Constitutional” or not, then go ahead and answer the ONLY question the census is Constitutionally allowed to ask: how many people live in your house.  Everything else that is […]

  10. anna
    anna February 1, 2010 7:13 am

    I only knew the census person came because I have a dog that alerts us to anyone coming down our drive. She got out of her car, walked to the front door with a little hand-held thingy, and stopped.

    We don’t use the front door, so I came out the side and said, “Can I help you?” The girl (she was just a girl) said, “Oh, no, I’m just logging the GPS coordinates for your home. Have a great day!” And she walked back to her car and drove away.

    You think that’s invasive, try going to Google maps and choosing the satellite thinger and typing in your address. My husband’s co-worker pulled up a picture so clear he could see what was in his garage. A friend of mine could see her grandma sweeping the walk to her house. I could see a house on an Air Force Base. But when we typed in my address, Google said it was not a valid address (it never is). When typing in our neighbor’s address and trying to scroll over to our place, you couldn’t see anything but the trees and a tiny portion of the end of the drive. Sah-weeeeet!

  11. Claire
    Claire February 1, 2010 8:05 am

    LOL, yeah. Definitely Sah-weeeeeet on foiling Google maps.

    Where I used to live, Google (along with every GPS device I ever heard of) had the location of my house three full miles from where it actually was. The downside of that was that occasionally somebody trying to get to my place would drive right past it and get lost for hours in some pretty forbidding mazes of logging roads. But the upside … well, you know the upside very well. 🙂

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