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Caroline 03-03-2006 01:26 PM

American Community Survey
 
I've been selected to respond to the U.S. Census' "American Community Survey." Apparently, it's the new way of taking the census on a rolling basis, rather than once every 10 years.

It includes a HUGE number of questions about my finances (income and specific source, property value, monthly mortgage payments), my expenses (mortgage, electric, gas, sewage, etc. etc. down the line), my job (how I get to work and what time I leave for work each day), my history of mental or emotional illness (!!!!), how many toilets I have in my house, who lives here with me and THEIR information, etc. etc. The list goes on -- my race, the number of cars kept here, education, languages spoken... 24 pages all told.

Now, I KNOW that a lot of this information is useful for government purposes, and that I should do my share to help, but... with the recent information on government surveillance of citizens, the sheer number and intrusiveness of the questions, the knowledge that census data was (illegally) used to round up Japanese internees during WWII, the knowledge that my DMV and other data is being sold to businesses... it's all getting me just a little bit antsy.

The statement on the envelope that my information is "required by law" is contributing to the feeling that I'm being coerced, despite my congressional office tells me there's no enforcement behind that statement.

Anybody have thoughts, opinions, suggestions? Anyone else get this thing, and how did you handle it?

Caroline

brewer12345 03-03-2006 01:32 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
Sounds like a candidate for the shredder. Nobody (especially not the feddle gummint) is getting all that data from me without a subpoena.

cute fuzzy bunny 03-03-2006 01:43 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
Answer every question wrong.

No charge. ;)

cube_rat 03-03-2006 02:11 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
I would be very reluctant in giving out my personal info. It's disturbing that you're required by law to fill out the questionaire. :-\

JPatrick 03-03-2006 02:12 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
If asked (never have been) my standard answer will be- - -
"You Sent What?" :o

justin 03-03-2006 02:16 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
I'd answer it. Just me personally.

Looks like none of that stuff asks you to incriminate yourself in any manner. You don't have to personally identify yourself do you (other than address)?

I know I've used the "how I get to work and what time I leave for work each day" responses from the US census data on a professional basis for transportation planning.

The Census aggregates data before reporting it, and they do a pretty good job of concealing individual identities. For example, if there is only one person who rides a bike to work with a 30 minute commute in your census block, they will either report "0" or "*" and then say that the response was less than five, but the exact number has been omitted to protect the anonymity of the survey respondents.

Now, they could feed your data directly into their PATRIOT data collector/black list generator machine, and then you'd be screwed.

cute fuzzy bunny 03-03-2006 02:59 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
I trust absolutely nothing with these guys anymore. They'll do anything and say it was to "protect america". ::)

grumpy 03-03-2006 04:32 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
Caroline,

Are you certain this "survey" is really from the Census Bureau and not some new form of phishing scheme?

Grumpy

shiny 03-03-2006 05:54 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
I'm thinking along the same lines as Grumpy. I wouldn't trust that it is valid.

But, even if it is I wouldn't answer it.

Arif 03-03-2006 06:06 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
Two words---trash bin :P

cabbage 03-03-2006 08:34 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
I would definately answer the questions honestly. 100 years from now the answers you gave will provide an interested person a peek into your world. Your grandparents were asked in the 1930 census whether or not they owned a radio and how much rent they paid for their house. The Great Depression was descending and those two questions were meant to weigh how well off people were. Fascinating stuff to a genealogist!

Caroline 03-03-2006 09:12 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
Thanks folks -- interesting points in both directions - pro and con. In answer to various points made:

My congressional offices says the survey IS legitimate, but that there is NO penalty for not filling it out even though the Census website says you can be charged up to $1K for noncompliance.

Answering questions incorrectly will cost a lot more - that's "interfering with government business" or something like that and will cost $5K, apparently.

They DO ask for my name, address, phone number, etc., as well as the purely demographic stuff. So I could not comply without identifying myself.

Ignoring it doesn't SEEM to be an option. They've mailed it twice and I got a hand-delivered letter in my screen door from a live census taker asking me to call him back. From what I've read on the internet since then, he's likely to make several more attempts.

So, I'm still mulling... If enough people don't answer it might show the government just how low our trust in them has become.

"Sending them a message" aside, I've toured one of those Japanese relocation camps and talked to some of the gentle souls who were dragged from their homes and locked up like criminals. It makes quite an impression.

cute fuzzy bunny 03-03-2006 09:21 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
Next time the census guy shows up, tell him caroline moved to another country and wont be back for a year or two. You have no way of reaching her.

Or you can tell him she went up in a space shot to try to retrieve that asteroid full of platinum. Tell him to try to route the questionaire through Bruce Willis's press agent.

Nords 03-04-2006 10:54 AM

Re: American Community Survey
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Caroline
They DO ask for my name, address, phone number, etc., as well as the purely demographic stuff.* So I could not comply without identifying myself.

"Sending them a message" aside, I've toured one of those Japanese relocation camps and talked to some of the gentle souls who were dragged from their homes and locked up like criminals.* It makes quite an impression.

Are you able to give answers that are already public info anyway?

Many grandparents around here were interned as kids or "lost" friend for several years. It's pretty powerful talk story for their grandkids.

unclemick 03-04-2006 12:40 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
The 'official myth' in my small PacNW home town growing up - was one family became "officialy Chinese" after the FBI agents(from Portland) got the crap kicked out of them a couple times.

Thusly - all the school sports programs in the area continued to enjoy the low cost bidder thruout the war.

"Everybody knows - you gotta be Chinese to run a laundry."

heh heh heh heh - have No idea whether it's true - never asked the son and daughter who were several years behind me in school.

Brat 03-04-2006 06:29 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
I am with the "don't" folks unless you think answering the questions will help you or your community. If they send a census worker to your door offer them a cup of tea, and state that you have no trust in gov any more - tea and taxes are all they get from you, end of story.

I predict nothing will happen. If they do try to shove you around call the local press and watch the fun.

Non sequitur 03-04-2006 06:36 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brat
I am with the "don't" folks unless you think answering the questions will help you or your community. If they send a census worker to your door offer them a cup of tea, and state that you have no trust in gov any more - tea and taxes are all they get from you, end of story.

I predict nothing will happen. If they do try to shove you around call the local press and watch the fun.

I don't know if I'd have the courage to try that.* Who knows what list that would cause you to be on.* I believe that the people who cause me to feel this way are the real threat to our nations future.

haha 03-04-2006 10:56 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
I got this thing. A guy came to my door, I acted like a mental defective. Another guy came, I acted like a Spanish speaking mental defective. I never saw another guy. I'm*a pretty good actor, and I am easily mistaken for a mental defective anyway.

This sort of stuff is entertainment for me.

Ha

Brat 03-04-2006 11:36 PM

Re: American Community Survey
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Non sequitur
I don't know if I'd have the courage to try that.* Who knows what list that would cause you to be on.* I believe that the people who cause me to feel this way are the real threat to our nations future.

What many don't realize is that our government is effective because of the trust and confidence of its citizens.* Frankly my trust and confidence level has dropped a lot in the last 5 years.*

Courage... na, just confidence in your course of action.* When a fed I went eyeball to eyeball with a Gambino family business as a skinny 23-year old in NYC during the 60's, and I faced down a Senator ten years later.* Maybe more guts than good sense, but a high better than any drug.

The essence of freedom is the right to say "no" if that is your inclination.*

poboy 03-05-2006 06:54 AM

Re: American Community Survey
 
To expand on the message of HaHa, create an aluminum foil hat and jacket(sleeveless)
Keep this close to your front door and wear for the census taker.* Go to the front door and peep out constantly.* Turn the tv or radio volume up and whisper something to the effect of they are out there and you know they listen in.* Also, have a note pad nearby and sketch some alien pictures, ufo sightings, etc.* This should do the trick.


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