A couple of weeks ago I received a large envelope addressed to Resident in the mail. It immediately went into the trash can as that is common practice for that kind of correspondence. Fast forward to just a couple of days ago when a similar envelope presented itself in my daily gathering. Intrigued, I took a little more time and examined the envelope.

It was titled the American Community Survey and was distributed by the U.S.Census Bureau. There was instruction to complete the form either on-line or by regular mail and to do it as soon as possible under penalty of law and possible fines.I went straight to the computer to get this filled out and do my civic duty.

Question #1 What is your name? Got this one. #2 male or female? Easy enough. Question #3 What is your age and date of birth? Now wait a minute. Age, I can see, but date of birth? Now we are getting into information that i don't give to just anyone.

It is time to look at this questionnaire a little closer. Question #18: Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have serious difficulty concentration, remembering, or making decisions? Question #22: How many times has this person been married? Question # 33: What time did this person usually leave home to go to work last week? Question #47: Wage, salary, commissions, bonuses, or tips from all jobs, interest dividends, rental income, retirement income? And it goes on and on; how much is your mortgage, cost of insurance, electricity, number of bedrooms and baths, what date did you occupy your residence, how many cars do you own, who do you work for, how many days were you out sick last year? When did you get married, have you had any children in the last 12 months, address of where you lived a year ago? And these questions must be answered for every member of your household.

I am not sure, but i don't think that anybody except my wife and I know the answers to ALL these questions. Forget it I am done with this. But wait how about that penalty by law? How about those fines? Refuse to answer? $100 fine. Lie? $500 fine. PER QUESTION! PER PERSON!

Now it's time to hit the web to find out more about this missive.

Yup according to all the government websites, this is a legal and proper quiz that is sent out to 250,000 people on a monthly basis. And with over 5,000 census workers on staff, there are plenty of people to follow up and make sure that this information is gathered.

On a number of other websites you will find any number of people who have refused to answer these rather intrusive questions only to be harassed repeatedly by census workers to follow thru and answer to the letter of the law. Now hold that thought...the letter of the law....I was a pretty good student and seem to remember something about the census in the Constitution.

The provision for the Census is found in Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution.  It is confined to determining the number of Representatives in the House and imposing direct taxes among 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 Number…  The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.


That's right, a count of noses, not all this other nonsense. But then again it is all in the interpretation and nonsense and Washington go hand in hand.

In my research I have found that in fact the American Community Survey is indeed real. The penalties and fines associated are very real. However there are also a growing number of people who are refusing to answer the additional questions and in turn questioning the need for the information being gathered.

What do you think? Take the poll.