Your Census

The other day, I was on my way out the door.  At the bottom of my stairs, I had noticed that my mail had come.  Since I didn’t have time to open it, I just picked it up off the floor and set it on the stairs to get when I got back.  As I was doing so, I noticed one of the envelopes was from the US Census Bureau.  Thinking like any rational person would, I figured that the census was inside it.  You might be surprised that when I got home a few hours later and actually opened the letter that the census was not in the envelope.  Instead, there was a letter informing me that I would be receiving the census in about a week and why I should fill it out and send it back in.

Yes, you read that correctly.  The federal government actually sent out letters telling people that they were going to be receiving the census.  Thanks to a local news investigation, I did manage to find out some more information.  Only 120 million of these letters were sent out.  So some of you might not have received one.  How much did it cost to send out all of these letters….about $85 million dollars  (and that’s tax dollars).    The government says that sending out these pre-letters saves money because it increases responses by 6-12 %….which means they don’t have to send someone to your residence should you not send your census back in.  Yes, that’s right.  If you don’t mail your census back in, they will be sending someone to where you live to ask you the same 10 questions that are on the form.  The cost for someone to come see you is $57.  So they reckon that spending 42-cents on stamps to increase the return of the form is better than spending $57 to send someone to your house.  I’m seriously hoping that’s not $57 an hour.  If it is, where do I sign up?  That’s 2-3 times what I get paid right at either of my jobs.

Since the beginning of the year, we have been bombarded with advertisements and news on the census and why it’s important to fill it out and send it back in.  So I still ask…was it really necessary to spend $85 million on these pre-letters?  In my own personal opinion, it seems like the federal government wasting more of our tax dollars.  At a time when money is tight and we’re running major deficits, it would seem as if we could find something better to do with that kind of cash.  We could have put it on the deficit.  Maybe put it into social security or medicare.  Or the best possible option that would have had the biggest return….throw it into our lagging and broke education system.  So see…there was something better that could have been done with $85 million rather than sending out these letters.  And besides, sending a letter first isn’t going to make a difference to someone that just throws out the envelope without opening it when they see it’s from the Census Bureau and already plan not to answer the census.

And in a time when we are all becoming more environmentally conscious and trying to help the environment and reduce our waste, it is estimated that to send out all these letters and the envelopes resulted in just under 24,000 trees being cut down.  Doesn’t sound very environmentally friendly either.  So for all of us who did receive these pre-letters, make it a point to recycle it.  At least do something good with that tree that was cut down.

Once again, this has proven how inept our federal government has gotten.  They can’t even do a census correctly.  And though they can tell us how much this pre-letter cost to the taxpayer, and how it was cheaper to do it this way (spend 42-cents before so you don’t have to spend $57 after), but yet they still can’t tell you how much it’s going to cost to send the overall census forms out….though it has been budgeted at $6.7 billion.  Something tells me already that it’s going to run way over that by the time this census comes to a close.

So after receiving my letter (and seeing my tax dollars at waste yet again), I will be recycling the paper to help out another tree down the line.  And I will be filling out my census that way I can avoid the government spending even more money to send someone to where I live.  Maybe we should all consider this.  Since the government can’t seem to stop unnecessary spending, maybe it’s time we Americans do it where we can.  And this is one area in which we can affect how much the government spends.  We can save that money if no one has to be sent out in person.  Maybe we can do what the government apparently is incapable of….self-control.

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One Response to Your Census

  1. musicnmyhead says:

    Oh my goodness! I felt like I was reading a blog I wrote. I got one of these letters in the mail last week. I told my wife I had gotten my census already, and like you I was shocked to see it was a letter telling me my census would arrive soon. My first thought was what a BIG waste of money! I understand they don’t want to send someone to my house, but it was such a big waste of money and paper! (like you I put mine in my recycle stack) Again, the government was not thinking. There has got to be a better way!
    Oh, and don’t worry, it’s not $57 an hour, it’s like $12 or $13.

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