I got this parcel of mail called the American Community Survey from the Census Bureau the other day. On the envelope, in big bold letters, were the words “Your response is required by law.” In other words mandatory, and should my compliance not be complete some stint in a federal prison awaited me in the near future.
I knew almost immediately I wasn’t filling out the survey. I don’t respond well to threatening articles of mail. I can’t say that’s a good approach to capturing my cooperation. Do this — or else.
The only thing I have to do in this country is die and pay taxes. I am not wasting my time with this administration’s equivalent of a girly survey you would find in the back of a copy of Seventeen. I filled the Census paperwork out four years ago, and that’s all the government needs to know about little old me for one decade.
I gave the Census folks a ring, because that’s my deal. When I am having a bad day I like to take it out on the government where I can. I got a hold of this glad-handing government hack, Patty. I asked her three times in a row how “mandatory” filling out the survey was. She could never give me a direct response, but stressed, again, how I was required by law to fill out the survey.
There would not be an America today if people did everything their government told them to do. Our inherent reluctance to roll over like trained dogs when Grandpa Government barks orders at us is one of the reasons our ancestors fled here. In fact, I believe a survey was the straw that broke the camel’s back and started the American Revolution, though I could be wrong.
The pamphlet that came with the survey stated, and I quote, “We estimate this survey will take about 40 minutes to complete.” Really? Forty minutes is entirely too much time to waste on the adult equivalent of the Iowa test. I can watch an entire episode of “MythBusters” in that time if I fast forward through the commercials.
Patty wasn’t impressed.
She said my participation was mandatory and required by law under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, Sections 141 and 193. Huh? That’s rich, Patty. Am I supposed to know what in the world that even means? I asked for an explanation and was not given one. Title such and such of Section blah blah blah could be a law against anything. It could be a law prohibiting an American from showering in just their underwear or a ban on owning unicorns, but I wouldn’t know.
She tried putting a guilt trip on me. She said the survey will assist the government with data that can be used to decide where to locate new highways and the expenditure of money for government programs like welfare.
That’s just what I want, a highway running through my backyard and doling out even more welfare money to the entitled and dependent masses.
My favorite line in the frequently asked questions portion of the survey’s pamphlet was if the Census Bureau would keep my information confidential. The answer read yes, and by that it meant no.
I can think of countless instances where some department of the federal government leaked very serious personal information. This country has a hard time keeping confidential information confidential — isn’t that right, Edward Snowden? — so I seriously doubt my personal information will actually be safe from Third World computer hackers.
No thanks. There is only one way to keep my personal information confidential and that’s by throwing the survey away.
And quite frankly, I don’t care if the Census Bureau finds out about my blatantly defiant act of refusal. What are they going to do about it?
Well actually, nothing. The Census Bureau hasn’t prosecuted a survey refusal case since 1970. If they come after me, I’ll just say my survey must have been lost in the mail.
Next time, maybe the government can ask me a little nicer.
To contact Will E Sanders email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Will E Sanders, to read past columns or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.