Search This Blog

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The American Community Survey

Several weeks ago, my mother received an American Community Survey in the mail. I threw it away unopened.  I've seen them before, and the questions it asks are incredible--how many bathrooms, whether there's a flush toilet, a stove, a refrigerator, how many animals, how many people are in the household and their relationships to each other, what do you eat, sources of income, whether you have a business, how much you spend on various utilities, how many acres, education of residents, whether they need assistance walking or dressing (!), and the list goes on and on. Incredible, I said, but it should have been "incredibly invasive".

I got a phone call a few days ago from a government lackey to remind me to fill out the survey.  I refused, citing the Fourth Amendment and the lack of constitutional authority for the Census Bureau to even send out such a survey.  She said she'd note my answers and give them to her supervisor. 

Today I got a call from the supervisor, who proceeded to tell me how I was Required By Law, Title 13, to be exact, to answer the questions.  I explained that my mother is 92 and has dementia and would not be answering any questions.  She asked if I lived there, and I replied, "I stay here with her."   She then instructed me that I could answer the survey.  I declined, reiterating my previous replies, and she told me I HAD to answer the questions because "It's the Law".  Ah, yes. 

I patiently advised her that the Fourth Amendment had not been amended, that I had a right to be secure in my person and my effects, and that no law could abridge that right, and that includes secure from prying questions as well.

It's pretty sad that so many government "officials" have either never read the Constitution or have such a complete lack of understanding of what it says.  This woman tried to tell me that Congress had, yes, indeed, amended the Fourth Amendment, and it was all written down in Title 13.  I attempted again to explain to her that Congress cannot amend the Constitution with a law.  I advised her that I was quite familiar with the Constitution and that no amendment had been passed which abridged the Fourth Amendment. She wasn't having any of it, just became more belligerent. I was in the middle of making Tilsit cheese, so I finally said, "Ma'am, this conversation is over.  Goodbye,"  and got back to my cheesemaking.

It's troubling that so many people will blithely send in the ACS with all their private information, trusting the government, no doubt, to keep that information secure.  Tell that to the Japanese who were interred during World War II, or tell it to the Arab Americans who, even more recently have been targeted through the Census Bureau for use on terrorist lists for the airlines.

Sample surveys can be found here.  If you aren't offended by the nature of the questions, then you ought to be

Let me end with the Fourth Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." 

The Fourth Amendment has been under attack from many directions.  The ACS is one little talked about by the media, but is every bit as unconstitutional as any other.