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There are only two reasons given in the US Constitution for what we now call the census: determining the number of representatives needed for a given area, and directing federal taxes. Constitutionally there is but one legitimate question: how many people live in this residence? With the House of Representatives based upon population the first reason is obvious. But the second reason expired when the 16th Amendment to the Constitution introduced the infamous income tax.
Today, three columns of invasive questions across 28 pages are asked in the companion to this year’s census- the American Community Survey. Though the current census has been reduced to ‘just’ 10 questions, the old census ‘long form’ data is now being gathered via the ACS. In their words:
“The ongoing American Community Survey has replaced the decennial census long form in 2010 and thereafter by collecting long form-type information throughout the decade rather than once every 10 years.”
Washington DC’s violations of your privacy will now be continuous, rather than once per decade. […] With respect to your personal life, the Feds want to know how many times you were married, the date of your last marriage, and if you have serious difficulty concentrating or bathing. At one point they even asked for the number of stillbirths or abortions you have had. Even your nosiest neighbor does not know these things.
The American Community Survey conducting the census publishes a pamphlet called “50 Ways Census Data Are Used”. Only two of the ways this data is used are constitutional.
Should one refuse to answer all unconstitutional questions, the punishment is a fine of up to $5,000. Some time ago they even threatened imprisonment.