Article 1, Section 2 of the U. S. Constitution lays the groundwork for conducting a periodic census in order to provide proportional representation in the House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States.... Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons....

This was modified somewhat by the 14th Amendment, to wit

Representatives shall be apportioned  among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.

This week we received in the mail, not the census form itself, but a letter from the U. S. Census Bureau informing us that the form would be delivered soon.  In it we are told the reason we should "fill it out and mail it in promptly."

Your response is important.  Results from the 2010 Census will be used to help each community get its fair share of government funds for highways, schools, health facilities, and many other programs you and your neighbors need.  Without a complete, accurate census, your community may not receive its fair share.

How did we get from determining appropriate representation in the Federal government to getting our "fair share" of governmental programs that we "need"?  Surely this inversion of John F. Kennedy's Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country borders on travesty.

Then again, I know that the true value of the census is not representative government, nor the people's pork, but to provide future genealogists with information about their ancestors.  I used to think the census takers asked too many nosy questions.  Funny how one's perspective can change.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 7:53 am | Edit
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