18 March 2010

Having a Voice or Being Counted – Census Misconception

On Monday, I watched some local school children - probably in middle school - spout clearly scripted lines about the census.  The children were urging all to fill out their census forms so that their "voices will be heard".  By filling out these forms, the middle-schoolers assured their audience that filling out a census form is a way to be "active" in a civic manner.

Obviously, these kids were basically parroting lines given to them by those who have an interest in pushing the census as a politic activity rather than a head count.  But there's an important underlying message here.  By relegating one's political voice to the simple act of being counted, a great amount of individual gradation is pushed aside.  I either stand up or I do not, and I do so without asking questions; my comment is contained within the act of standing or sitting.  It would seem that being counted is enough; being counted is the important thing.  This is especially true when it comes to government largesse.  This is reflected in the other prominent message in various census commercials is that one's voice - being counted - is vital for getting more government funds into one's community.  Thus being counted is worth money, taxpayer money.  Other taxpayers' money.

The implied link, though perhaps a bit tenuous, is that political voice ought to be linked to government largesse.  Stand up and be counted so that the "proper" amount of money is pushed toward one's locality.  Refuse to be counted and it costs money.  It's binary; it defies nuance.  And what's more, it takes very little thought.  Indeed, many political questions and issues seem to be boiled down to either / or choices.  Universal health insurance reform or the status quo - never mind the middle ground.  Belief in anthropomorphic global warming / climate change or contentment with destroying the planet.  Ever-increasing federal money and levels of intrusion into local schools or giving up children.  All posed as loaded either / or questions with the "preferred" answer clear.

Perhaps it would make more sense to ask serious questions whether or not money should be spent at all - a nearly unthinkable question given current and recent leadership at the federal level.  But regardless of individual job security, just how much government do we not need?  Antithetical to much current political thinking to be sure, and surely has no place in the minds of many of the political elite, especially when many Americans' answers would cost government jobs in heaps.  Avoiding questions with more than two answers ensures shallow thought and increases the permanence of ever-growing government.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure you've received, completed, and returned your census by now, like a good little citizen. Did you happen to notice that it is required BY LAW that you complete and return it??? What would happen if I didn't? I agree it's a good idea to submit this for funding purposes, but why do they need names and birthdates of my children, and just who all gets access to my personal info? Personal security is such a joke anymore.

Bob M. said...

Anonymous - You do realize that the census is required by the Constitution, right? If so, I'm not sure why you take a disparaging tone with regard to filling out the form. If not, I encourage you to read the Constitution regularly. With regard to your other comments, I think, perhaps, you really missed the point of my post.