Government by Paranoiacs: The U.S. Census Edition

By now, you might have heard about the House Republicans’ vote to defund the detailed U.S. Census–surveys which have existed for two centuries, in one form or another. If you haven’t:

The House voted Wednesday to eliminate the detailed surveys of America that have been conducted by the Census Bureau since the nation’s earliest days.

House Republicans, increasingly suspicious of the census generally, advanced a measure to cut the American Community Survey. It passed 232 to 190.

The survey is not part of the constitutionally mandated population count, but some version of it has been done by law as part of the decennial survey since the time of Thomas Jefferson to assess the needs of the nation. It’s generally considered a vital tool for business.

Republicans, acknowledging its usefulness, attacked the survey as an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, arguing that the government has no business knowing how many flush toilets someone has, for instance.

“It would seem that these questions hardly fit the scope of what was intended or required by the Constitution,” said Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), author of the amendment.

“This survey is inappropriate for taxpayer dollars,” Webster added. “It’s the definition of a breach of personal privacy. It’s the picture of what’s wrong in Washington, D.C. It’s unconstitutional.”

These are the same Republicans who have no problem with the massive surveillance state. At this point, it’s practically legal for the NSA to stick a spy satellite up your ass. No problem with the massive data mining by corporations of your internet use–and which can then be sold on to the government (there are security companies that do this, so I should probably write is, not can). All of this with virtually no oversight or control.

But, no, the real threat is an anonymous survey that provides useful information for businesses, local and state governments, and policy makers. A survey which has asked these supposedly intrusive questions for decades. That is the cold, dead hand of totalitarianism.

I’ve given up on even marginal consistency by movement conservatives, so I’m not surprised at all. But what we are witnessing is government by paranoiacs: faced with real threats to our privacy and freedom, conservatives are fixated on the Census. It is every bit as insane as the fear of light bulb vigilantes or any of the other Agenda 21 paranoia.

At this point, movement conservatism can no longer be described as an ideology, but only as a mass public psychosis. It is as crazy and unhinged as any rant by the occasional mentally ill person on the subway. Show them compassion if you will, but, for Intelligent Designer’s sake, do not let them run anything.

Related item: The Grey Lady notes (boldface mine):

The Web site of Representative Daniel Webster, Republican of Florida, instructs visitors to click on a link for “Census data for the 8th district” to learn about the area’s economy, businesses, income, employment, homeownership and other important features. And yet, on Wednesday, Mr. Webster declared that the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey — the source for much of that data — is an unconstitutional breach of privacy.

He then proposed an amendment to the bureau’s 2013 appropriation to forbid any money from being spent on the survey; the amendment was passed by most House Republicans and four Democrats.

This is know-nothingness at a new level. The American Community Survey, which gives annual updates of Americans’ economic, demographic and housing characteristics, is widely considered a vital tool for business decision makers. It is also a bipartisan creation. First used in 2005, it is a more timely and accurate way to ask questions that used to be posed on the “long form” decennial census. Indeed, in 2006, Republican Congressional staff members participated in efforts to promote the survey under the slogan “Better Data for Better Decisions.”

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3 Responses to Government by Paranoiacs: The U.S. Census Edition

  1. eNeMeE says:

    Yay! I was thinking this was one area where the US was lagging Canada in the stupid, but you’ve caught up!

  2. Rich S. says:

    Right, but when it comes to the government reading your email, listening to your phone conversations, punching your vehicle tag into the computer as you drive down the road not breaking any laws, tazing pregnant women when they refuse to sign a summons, etc, etc. are all ok with these same republicans. But, number of toilets? Totalitarianism!

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