Libertarian Party Press Release
17 March 2000
NEWS FROM THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY
2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
World Wide Web: http://www.LP.org
For release: March 17, 2000
For additional information:
George Getz, Press Secretary
Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 222
Strike a blow for privacy: Refuse to answer nosy Census questions
WASHINGTON, DC — The arrival of 120 million Census forms this week gives Americans a once-in-a-decade opportunity to say “Yes” to the Constitution — and “No” to busybody bureaucrats in Washington, DC — by refusing to answer most of the Census questions, the Libertarian Party said today.
“Want to strike a blow for liberty, privacy, and limited government? Then answer only the question required by the Constitution: How many people live in your home?” said Steve Dasbach, Libertarian Party national director.
“Census bureaucrats say it is your civic duty to answer all the questions. But it’s actually your patriotic duty to refuse to answer nosy Census questions that the federal government has no business asking in the first place.”
This week, the arrival of the 2000 Census — both the short and long versions — was met with a swift and unfriendly reaction from the public: The Census Bureau’s hotline was swamped by over 630,000 calls from Americans, many of whom complained about everything from the length of the form to the number of shockingly nosy questions, Dasbach noted.
And no wonder: “The U.S. Constitution says the purpose of the Census is to make an enumeration; that is, to take an accurate count of Americans for the purpose of apportioning Congressional districts,” he said.
“But the federal government has gone far beyond that Constitutional mandate, and uses the Census to ask dozens of probing questions — including your official government racial classification, how much money you earn, the number of toilets in your home, whether you have trouble bathing, and how many cars you own.
“In fact, the long version of the Census contains a whopping 52 questions, which is 51 more than the Constitution requires,” he said.
Refusing to answer those nosy questions won’t just send a message to overly inquisitive politicians — it might protect your personal privacy, as well, said Dasbach.
“A poll this week revealed that 50% of Americans don’t believe the government’s promise to keep Census information confidential. And who can blame them?” he asked.
“Remember, Americans were promised by our government that our Social Security numbers would be used only for Social Security. We were told that confidential FBI files could never end up in the White House. And we were assured that IRS employees would never browse through individuals’ tax returns just for fun. So why should we trust politicians about the Census?”
If politicians are genuinely interested in making sure that Americans fill out the Census honestly and quickly, Dasbach said Libertarians have the solution: Keep it simple, stupid.
“The government should put the Census form on a postcard containing only one question: How many people live at your address,” he suggested. “That would raise response rates dramatically, protect Americans’ privacy, and comply with the Constitution. It’s an inexpensive, obvious, and practical solution — no wonder the politicians refuse to do it.”