Saturday, March 20, 2010

Kent Lenhard - Local man joins census boycott - Bakersfield California

Kent Lenhard has Got Moxy - the Census is Unethical at Best !!!

"When Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann announced recently she would defy the law by refusing to complete next year's national census, members of her own party asked her to reconsider.

They said boycotting the constitutionally mandated census would be bad for America.
Bachmann refused to back down.

Now, Bachmann's mini-rebellion may be spreading -- to at least one local household.

Bakersfield resident Kent Lenhard says the U.S. Census Bureau has no right to ask him so many questions. So Lenhard is refusing to fill out the 28-page American Community Survey, a supplemental census questionnaire mailed to about 2.5 percent of the population each year.
"Talk about Big Brother," Lenhard said. "I read it over twice and thought, 'Wow, I can't believe this.'"

The 66-year-old retired architect said the government has no right to ask him about his race and ethnicity. If society is supposed to be colorblind, he said, why should it matter?

The Census Bureau wants to know how much he pays for his utilities, how he gets to work, when he leaves for work, and what he does at work.

One question seemed particularly inappropriate to Lenhard: Does a resident have difficulty concentrating or making decisions because of a physical, mental or emotional condition? "It's none of their business," Lenhard said.

After three phone calls to the U.S. Census Bureau -- which he emphasized were conducted in a polite and civil manner -- Lenhard was told to expect a visit from an equally nice bureau employee.

Doesn't matter, Lenhard said. He's not budging. Even if they throw the book at him.

It's not uncommon for Americans to have questions and concerns about the survey, which is identical to the census long form that goes out to millions of Americans every 10 years, said Census spokeswoman Shelly Lowe.

But most of the questions on the survey have been asked for decades or even centuries, Lowe said. Questions related to gender and race were on the first census dating back to 1790.
Education, marital status, place of birth and language were addressed by questions added in the 1800s.

And questions about disabilities -- including the one above -- have been on the census since 1970, Lowe said.

The significance of census information is worth billions to state and local agencies across the country.

Statistics compiled by the survey determine the destination for $435 billion in federal funding annually. The money is funnelled into highway and transportation projects, health care grants and other efforts.

"Census data is very, very valuable," said Darrel Hildebrand, assistant director of Kern Council of Governments. "We use it very heavily."

Planning a freeway can take decades, Hildebrand said, and without long-term statistical data that shows where, when and even why people drive, planners would be hamstrung.

Private companies use the information, too, he said, when determining where to build a product distribution center, a retail store or an office building. "Census data is used by all sectors," he said.

Meanwhile, census protesters appear to represent a tiny fraction of Americans. According to Lowe, 97 percent of census forms and surveys are completed and returned.

And while it's true that residents are required under penalty of law to complete their census forms, Bachmann and Lenhard have little to fear if they choose not to follow the law.

"We have not prosecuted this yet," Lowe said. "That's not how the census prefers to operate.""


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Crystal L. Cox
Investigative Blogger