None of Your Business

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What is your name, age, date of birth, race and total income? Are your children biological or adopted? Have you ever been married? How many times? Once? Twice? Three or more? What is the hour and minute you leave for work, how do you get there, how long is your commute and how many people do you travel with? What is your mortgage payment and second mortgage payment, if any? Do you have a physical, emotional or mental condition that makes it difficult for you to remember things or make decisions?

I bet you're thinking, "None of your business!"

That's just a small sample of the invasive and personal questions included in the American Community Survey, a separate part of the census. I recently received this 28 page form in an envelope with a warning in bold lettering on the front that stated that I was required by law to respond to both the census and this survey, with fines of up to $5,000 for not responding or giving false information.

It is being sent to 250,000 households per month nationwide, even in non-census years. If you haven't received one yet, just wait. You will. I believe that they are doing it this way because if they sent the surveys all at once there would be a nationwide outcry about privacy.

When I received the regular, short census form a few months ago, I filled it out and sent it back the next day, happy to have taken part in what I consider to be an important process. I value my privacy and therefore will not be returning this new survey.


I do not believe this is what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the census into the Constitution. These big brother questions about my personal life have nothing to do with simple enumeration for the purposes of Congressional seat allocation. And where does it end? Will they start asking how much you spend on alcohol per month or if you've ever had an abortion? One? Two? Three or more?

Due to my decision I will now be subject to 90 days of harassing telephone calls and visits to my home from census workers.

They can save a lot of time and resources by simply sending me a bill for the fine.

With a Perspective, I'm Tonya Bowman.