Thursday, April 15, 2010

Last Call

From The Portland Business Journal, I learned that tomorrow is the deadline to get your Census form turned in and avoid having a worker come to your home to get the requisite data in person.
The U.S. Census Bureau is asking Oregon residents to return their census forms before the weekend to avoid a visit from an agency worker.

As of Tuesday, 69 percent of Oregon households had mailed their census forms, slightly more than the 67 percent mail-back rate nationwide.

"The census form on your kitchen table is a vital investment in your community," Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said in a statement. "It's time for all of us to do our part. Fill it out and mail it back today. Get it in the mail by Friday and you can avoid a visit from a census worker in May."
The figures I've seen vary somewhat, but seem to be in the range of $1500 to $2000 per person for the amount of Federal funds that come to the community and state as a result of being counted in the census. (I presume that's over the course of the subsequent decade.) Also, of course, the figures are used to determine the number of representatives to the US House your state has. I've seen talk that Oregon might add another rep this time, but I haven't seen anything on it lately, so perhaps that's looking less likely now. Quite a number of the liberal bloggers have pointed out that the ever-confounded Michelle Bachmann's calls to avoid the Census count could cost Minnesota a representative, and if a seat is cut, it will be hers.


Finally, it should be understood that the Census is constitutionally mandated, and participation is legally required. As far as I know there are no penalties associated with avoiding it, other than the loss of funds mentioned above, and loss of representation as a resident of this wonderful country. But the Census Bureau is determined to at least try to count you, and there isn't really any downside to being counted. However, there is a significant cost to making them come and find you:
What is the cost per household to conduct the census, and how much is the Census Bureau spending per household on advertising on TV, radio, etc.?

To ensure that the public is aware of importance of mailing back the 2010 Census questionnaire when they receive it, and the millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money saved by doing so, the Census Bureau is spending about $1 per person on our combined promotion and outreach efforts. It costs [the Census Bureau] just $.42 cents to mail back the census form in a postage paid envelop. It costs taxpayers $25 per person to send a census taker door-to-door to collect the same information if they didn’t mail it back. Promotional and outreach efforts are heavily focused on increasing the number of households to mail back their form when they receive it this March. For every one percentage point increase in the national participation rate by mail, taxpayers can help the Census Bureau save about $85 million in operational costs.
One of my IZ friends never received a form; the feds will undoubtedly track him down next month. So some cases are unavoidable. If, like me, you let the envelope collect dust for several weeks before taking a minute or less to fill it out and get it in the mailbox, you're set. But if it's still accumulating fine air-borne particulates, take a moment (and it really is very quick and easy) to fill it out, and get it into the mail.

It's the easiest opportunity you'll have in the next ten years to cut Federal spending.

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