I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to put things off. That doesn’t mean that I don’t put things off, I just don’t like to. If something is relatively easy to take care of, I’ll usually get to it quickly. If I’ve got a refund coming, I’ll file my taxes as soon as I can. I got this year’s refund in the first week of February. Surveys and other forms that I have to fill out I’ll get to pretty quickly. It was the same thing with my Census form.
I understand the value of an accurate census, although I think sampling would provide accurate numbers and save money, but since the Supreme Court says “no,” okay then. I smiled when I got a letter telling me I was going to get another letter with my actual census form. Once the actual form showed up, it took me about 3 minutes to fill it out. The only hassle was the envelope was too wide for the outgoing mail slot at my house, so I had to take the form to work and mail it from there.
Okay, so the form is sent off, and I assume that’s all the direct business I’m going to have with the U.S. Census Bureau. I wasn’t surprised when I saw that many of my neighbors have neglected to respond to the request that they fill in the form and return it. I’m pretty sure that the low response around here isn’t because of some Tea Party-inspired paranoia over the government sticking its nose in our personal business. After all, this is the shortest census form ever. This reminds me a little of the Big Switch. People who were warned for more than a year that analog TV signals were going to go away, and were still surprised when they turned on their stories and saw a screen-full of static.
Well, I was a little surprised when I got another Census form in the mail. My first thought was that maybe it was a reward for sending in my original form so quickly. Perhaps they’ll count you twice if you get your form in right away. This one is still sitting on the table for now, because it seems that the Bureau is reaching out to slow-responding areas by resending forms. That’s an additional $40 million spent to save the $500 million it would cost to hire people to go door-to-door to count everybody.
Anybody else see the flaw in this bit of logic? If folks, for whatever reason, aren’t going to fill out and return their census forms; they’re not going to fill out and return the replacement form either. Maybe I’m wrong. People might get the second form and be filled with a sense of patriotism and start running around the house, looking for a No. 2 pencil. Maybe they should send the forms out with half a dollar bill, promising the other half when a completed form is returned.