LETTER: Counting on Census

The U.S. Constitution requires the federal government conduct a count of everyone in the U.S. every 10 years: adults, children, citizens and non-citizens alike.
Commentary
Mar 23, 2010

 

The U.S. Constitution requires the federal government conduct a count of everyone in the U.S. every 10 years: adults, children, citizens and non-citizens alike. (That has no effect on illegal immigration or the receipt of any benefits by any illegal immigrants .) The count is then used to distribute funds from poverty and disability assistance to transportation and infrastrucutre money -- almost $1 billion over 10 years for Erie County alone. Even a 5 percent undercount could cost Erie County nearly $50 million.

Have you ever wanted to live like Bill Gates for just 10 minutes? The Census Bureau estimates the form takes 10 minutes or less to complete. About $400 billion is distributed among our country's 300 million people each year -- about $1,333 per person per year, or $13,333 over 10 years. This is the average each community receives for each person included in the census form -- or loses for each person missed. At 10 minutes to complete the form, that's $80,000 an hour. Even Bill Gates can't do that!

In the last census, only 72 percent returned the form by mail. In Erie County, areas such as Berlin, Vermilion and Margaretta townships and the city of Sandusky had completion rates in the 60-70 percent range.

We are going to pay taxes in some form, and everyone wants to get a fair return. For each census form not returned by the mail, it costs the government $60-$70 to send out someone out to knock on the door.

The questions are simple and non-invasive. No census worker will ever ask for your Social Security number or bank account information. If they knock on your door, they will have an I.D. -- ask for it. Be safe, but complete the census form because your community is counting on you!

State Rep. Dennis Murray Jr.

D-Sandusky