Remember a month or so ago, when I posted that the U.S. Department of Commerce notified me by Postal Mail that they would send me a survey, and that it was necessary for the health of the nation for me to complete it? Well. Today, I actually got the survey in the mail. On the outside of the large envelope, it says, “Your response is required by law.” Really?
Inside, a letter accompanies the survey, signed by a machine to imitate the official signature of Charles Louis Kincannon, director of the U.S. Census Bureau. In Mr. Kincannon’s letter to “Resident” (by which I assume he means me), he says, “You are required by U.S. law to respond to this survey.” What he doesn’t say is that I’m required to fill it out. Just to respond. Hmmm… What should the appropriate response be? I have a few ideas.
Along with the very handsome, computer generated letter from Mr. Kincannon is a brochure that explains even farther: “The law, Title 13, Sections 141, 193 and 221 of the U.S. Code, authorizing the American Community Survey… requires that you provide the information asked in this survey to the best of your knowledge.”
Guess what the questions are?
They want to my my name (okay), whether I’m married, divorced, etc. (none of their business), my ethnic background (again, none of their business).
They also want me to tell them whether the residence is equipped with kitchen facilities, plumbing facilities, telephone. How many cars do I have? (why not check the vehicle registration database?) How much is my montly electric bill? How much is my rent? How far did I go in school? Do I have any children? Where do I work?
Here’s a doozy: “What time did this person (‘Person #1′) usually leave home to go to work LAST WEEK?” (uppercase included in survey). And “How many minutes did it usually take this person to get from home to work LAST WEEK?”
What the hell? Are they burglars? The only people who need to know when I leave for work are myself and my family/closest friends. Anyone else that’s watching when I leave or return is staking out my apartment for a burglary. No thanks. I leave for work at one minute before noon, and return one minute after noon. How’s that?
They also want to know my annual wages, how much money I have in the bank, and whether I’ve given birth in the last 12 months (the answer is “No,” in case anyone was wondering on that one.)
Okay, I KNOW that these are very similar questions to what I already answered on the U.S. Census in 2000. But this is not the Census. In fact, in case you don’t remember, here are the STATED reasons for this survey: “The information collected in this survey will help decide where new schools, hospitals, and fire stations are needed. The information also is used to develop programs to reduce traffic congestion, provide job training, and plan for the healthcare needs of the elderly.”
I should be able to do that in about six questions.
1) New Schools: there’s already a school a few blocks away; there aren’t enough students to fill it.
2) New Hospitals: there’s already a new hospital a few blocks away; people die there. If I’m in an accident, please take me to the next town.
3) New Fire Stations: there’s already a new fire station a few blocks away. They don’t use it, because the old fire station is good enough for this shrinking town and they didn’t need the new one when they built it.
4) Traffic Congestion: there is NO traffic congestion in Seminole.
5) Job Training: I already have a job.
6) Elderly Healthcare Needs: I’m not elderly.
See? See how easy that was? Jiminy Christmas!
If the STATED reasons for the survey were the REAL reasons, they would only have to ask me six questions, as proved above. THEREFORE, the stated reasons are NOT the real reasons. This is simple logic, folks. Look it up. So now, my question is… What are the REAL reasons? Why does the U.S. Department of Commerce need to know all of the other answers? And which one of our drunken Senators proposed a law that REQUIRES that I answer this survey?
I didn’t see anywhere in the letter, brochure, envelope, or survey itself that says HOW LONG I have to fill out the survey. I guess one answer they can tick off by my name is “Yes, he IS a procrastinator.” But I don’t know how long it will be before they get tired of waiting. At least the return postage is pre-paid. That’s a plus.