I recently filled out my Census form and sent it in. It took about ten minutes, as advertised; four or five to actually write in the required information, and another several minutes to talk myself out of cheating.
Glenn Beck and Representative Michele Bachmann have it entirely wrong. Rather than bristle at the Census’ supposed invasion of privacy (you have to provide more info to join Costco, for heaven’s sake) they should be encouraging Republicans to respond…over and over again.
Instead of correctly marking down that two people live at my address, I wanted to write in fourteen. Why this sudden urge to fib? I’m afraid that others – many others -- will cheat, and that I will lose out unless I do so, too. The more people who respond from my neighborhood, the more federal monies will flow in our direction. Over $400 billion in government funds is at stake. More important is that the Census totals determine how many Representatives your state sends to Congress. That means if you and the people who live next door are undercounted, you will also be underrepresented. That’s just plain stupid.
Why am I worried about widespread fraud? The 2010 Census is unusual in that the Obama administration has patched together a veritable army of people intent on increasing the count of those minorities historically considered to be “undercounted.” More astonishing, the Census Bureau was awarded an extra one billion dollars in Stimulus funds expressly to “hire additional personnel for partners and outreach efforts to minority communities and hard-to-reach populations.” One billion dollars! That’s a lot of outreach.
Not only will hundreds of thousands of Census workers fan out in coming weeks to press for higher response rates. Assisting them will be some 30,000 community organizations – such as the SEIU -- resembling the coalition that helped elect President Obama. These “partners” of the Census Bureau will be mining Hispanic communities, in particular, where there is typically a high number of illegal aliens. These folks understandably shy from any contact with the U.S. government, for fear that filling out forms – any forms – might lead to their deportation. Those who advocate for illegals estimate that more than one million Hispanics were undercounted in the last Census, costing that community millions in support services.
While that is a reasonable purpose, it also invites fiddling with the numbers. Consider that such minority neighborhoods will almost certainly vote Democratic. The higher the numbers counted, the larger the number of Democrats in the House. That’s simple math.
Moreover, Glenn Beck has failed to focus on the most troubling aspect of the Census – that nowhere on that supposedly intrusive form are people required to reveal their citizenship status. That is, citizens and illegals are treated the same. Consequently, if the Census is successful in hiking the number of non-citizens included in the count, taxpayer money will be disproportionately funneled to communities that harbor illegal aliens. More problematic is that the members of such communities are represented by elected Representatives, for whom they are not allowed to vote. As the number of people living in this country illegally has grown, the impact on Congress has become significant. Wall Street Journal writers John Baker and Elliot Stonecipher estimated in a piece last year that eliminating illegals in the count would cost California 9 House seats and Texas 4 seats by the end of this decade.
When politics and tens of thousands of community organizers are in the mix, I get nervous. While many of those beating the bushes may have excellent motives, there will undoubtedly be some who bend the numbers for political purposes. Some inkling of this is filtering through, like the lady working in an Ohio food pantry who wrote a letter to a Cleveland paper. A Census worker demanded to know how many people lived at the pantry. When told it was not a shelter, the worker insisted on stopping by to “quiz” people, to see if they were in fact homeless. When the woman pointed out that many people go from pantry to pantry, and might therefore be double counted, the worker said “That’s OK; the more people, the more money for Ohio.”
Liz Peek is a financial columnist and frequent contributor to the Fox Forum. Read more at www.LizPeek.com.