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Last Wednesday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives took the budget axe to the American Community Survey (ACS), the Census Bureau's up-to-date annual counterpart to the decennial population counts.  The vote came as an amendment to the 2012/2013 appropriations bill for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, and was passed on a 232-190, mostly-party-line vote (10 Republicans voted no, 4 Democrats voted yes).

The bill also eliminates the Economic Census, the nation's official five-year measure of American business and the economy.

I wish this were snark!  But it's for real, and the potential consequences are immense.

The American Community Survey is an ongoing nationwide survey that provides annual data to communities on how they are changing over time.  The ACS collects data on age, race, income, commute time to work, home value, veteran status, disability, and much more.  The questions used to be part of the "long form" that went to approximately one in six households at the same time as the decennial counts.  But data needs move swiftly in our rapidly-changing world, and ten years became too long to wait for fresh data.  So in the 1990s the Census Bureau created the ACS, essentially sending the "long-form" to 3 million homes every year on a rolling basis nationwide.

This data helps determine where $400 billion in federal funding is spent annually.  As the American Community Survey web site points out, ACS data helps policymakers at all levels of government make decisions about:
-- schools
-- job training centers
-- hospitals
-- location of new businesses
-- care for children, veterans, and seniors
-- roads, bridges, and transportation projects
-- emergency services

And it's not just governments that rely on this data.  Manufacturers, retailers, non-profits, researchers, journalists.  From Census Bureau Director Robert Groves:

The ACS is our country’s only source of small area estimates on social and demographic characteristics. Manufacturers and service sector firms use ACS to identify the income, education, and occupational skills of local labor markets they serve. Retail businesses use ACS to understand the characteristics of the neighborhoods in which they locate their stores. Homebuilders and realtors understand the housing characteristics and the markets in their communities. Local communities use ACS to choose locations for new schools, hospitals, and fire stations. There is no substitute from the private sector for ACS small area estimates.
Groves concludes:
Modern societies need current, detailed social and economic statistics. The U.S. is losing them.
In a CNN story on health care and poverty implications of killing the survey, Jonathan Gruber of MIT summed it up perfectly:
"If you're opposed to the survey, you're opposed to understanding what's going on in America," said MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, director of the Program on Health Care Research at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

As the story spreads, the headlines crescendo:

Killing the American Community Survey Blinds Business (Bloomberg Businessweek, 5/10)

Who's Afraid of Economic Data? (Forbes, 5/11)

Operating in the Dark (New York Times, 5/13)

The NYT editorial above begins with a scathing reveal of the hypocrisy of the author of the amendment, Daniel Webster (R-FL):

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.
The breach-of-privacy argument is certainly the public face of the issue, one that has been raised at the fringes since the Census began.  What once was fringe, however, has moved into the Tea-stained Republican mainstream, furthered by relentless right-wing media & candidate drum-beating, particularly while Census 2010 was in the news.  Meanwhile, the Census Bureau takes data privacy very seriously: all Census Bureau employees take an oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to 5 years, or both.  Compare that to the personal details that so many people risk freely on Facebook each and every day!

I'm still trying to figure out what the bigger picture is, here.  Interestingly enough, there's not a specific American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) resolution targeting this.  At first I thought it was because the ACS happens at the federal and not the state level, but ALEC does have at least one Census-related model resolution opposing statistical sampling for legislative redistricting.  I'd be interested to hear if anyone knows of any major right-wing think-tank or foundation that's been actively campaigning against the ACS, particularly after having seen the following snippet from the Bloomberg Businessweek story, about some heavy-weight champions of Census data on the right:

Contacted last week, economists at conservative think tanks Cato Institute, American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation all expressed support for the data-gathering agencies since all three rely heavily on the statistics they produce to study the economy. “Those agencies are essential,” says Phillip Swagel, an economist and nonresident scholar at AEI. “The data they provide really tell us what’s going on in the economy. This shouldn’t be a political issue.”
Bloomberg also cited the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as actively supporting full-funding of the Census Bureau as well as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

I can't help but think that the issue must be deeper than the publicly-hyped privacy objection.  It puts me in mind of the relentless march of ever more restrictive Voter ID initiatives.  That one's ALEC, of course, and the sanctimonious false cover story is the  spectre of voter fraud -- which turns out, of course, to be practically non-existent.  The true agenda in that case is voter suppression, as captured for posterity in Paul Weyrich's moment of honesty:

"I don't want everybody to vote," the influential conservative activist Paul Weyrich told a gathering of evangelical leaders in 1980. "As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
So, what are we facing here?  Well, Forbes has one stab at an answer, after quoting testimony in favor of the ACS from the American Enterprise Institute's Andrew Biggs:
The problem with Andrew’s argument is that it assumes congressional Republicans want accurate data to inform their policymaking. If you have committed yourself to claims that can be disproved with data, like “inflation is high,” then good economic data do not serve your interests.
One might also take into account a quote in the New York Times from Terri Ann Lowenthal, consultant and former staff director of the House subcommittee on Census and Population.
“The situation is very serious,” she said, adding that there were legal requirements that rely on the survey’s data, like implementation of the Voting Rights Act, which draws on detailed neighborhood data on race and ethnicity. “I don’t think the leadership in the House has thought through the consequences of this.”
Or maybe certain aspects of this have been thought through all too well?

In terms of immediate consequences, it appears that the amendment is unlikely to make it through the Senate, and the White House has promised a veto.

Meanwhile, though, I don't think we've heard the last of this.  Any further insights appreciated!

Originally posted to AnnieJo on Tue May 15, 2012 at 02:22 PM PDT.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for understanding what is going on (101+ / 0-)

    in America!

    If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

    by AnnieJo on Tue May 15, 2012 at 02:17:00 PM PDT

  •  I wonder what they were thinking... (7+ / 0-)

    ...when they voted on this, if their paymasters all seem to think gathering the data is a good thing???

  •  Simple, they don't people to be counted (30+ / 0-)

    if more americans are going to be not whiite, and not rich. I wrote about this last week and got very little attention. thanks for revisiting.

    "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing." - Thomas Paine

    by blueoregon on Tue May 15, 2012 at 02:45:13 PM PDT

  •  I saw a story about this last week, and I haveq (26+ / 0-)

    to say the best response was:

    The Republicans have earned a reputation as the ‘do-nothing party’ and now they want to also be the ‘know-nothing party,’ “ said Rep. Carolyn Maloney after the vote. “This vote repeals the work done by Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama and six Congresses to modernize the census, and does so without even a hearing or full debate.”

    House Votes To Cut Census Survey Done Since Thomas Jefferson

    For me, Mitt reminds me of Jeff Bridges in Starman. He's like an alien that hasn't read the entire manual. You know, he's going, "Nice to be in a place where the trees are the right size." -- Robin Williams on Letterman 26 Apr 2012

    by hungrycoyote on Tue May 15, 2012 at 02:49:08 PM PDT

  •  Having the NY Times, Bloomberg, and Forbes (17+ / 0-)

    against you ought to make you see that you are on the wrong side of an issue!

  •  Hope the Rescue Rangers find this one. Thx! n/t (7+ / 0-)

    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

    by FarWestGirl on Tue May 15, 2012 at 03:41:37 PM PDT

  •  I relied on Census data throughout my career, (12+ / 0-)

    mainly the March (Annual demographic & economic supplement) Current Population Survey. Since I worked on health insurance, I didn't use the American Community Survey because it didn't have health insurance questions until the last few years. But that doesn't mean I didn't hear from lots of other researchers about their use of the ACS. The ACS has replaced the long-form Census questionnaire given to a sample of people in the decennial Census. And it's great to have it -- it provides ongoing, frequent data and can get information at a much more local level (e.g., counties) than any other survey.
    I've loved the CPS over the years, but using it for state data is always tricky (it wasn't designed for that) and you can't use it for smaller geographic areas (though some people do -- but they shouldn't!).
    The ACS now has health insurance questions but i probably still wouldn't use it because it's a very limited set of questions unlike the CPS. Still, it's a good check on data that comes out of other surveys. And so many researchers have come to depend on it -- as your diary demonstrates, these are researchers from the left, the right, from non-profits and academia. All of them find the ACS tremendously useful.
    And I want to add a good word for the people at the Census Bureau. They are an amazing group of researchers who have always been tremendously helpful and informative. I have nothing but admiration for them.

    We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

    by Tamar on Tue May 15, 2012 at 05:19:38 PM PDT

  •  Who needs data when you have ideology? (14+ / 0-)

    Facts just confuse people. This is just one more example of the Teapublicans' anti-science bias.

  •  I could see making the ACS and EC every-other-year (4+ / 0-)

    ...instead of every-year in order to cut the Census Bureau budget, but completely eliminating them could have unintended consequences.

    Daniel Webster is just another Republican hypocrite. He uses ACS data that he believes is unconstitutional on his official Congressional website!

    •  ...could have completely intended consequences... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AnnieJo, ColoTim, mrkvica

      Here, I fixed your typo. :)

    •  Economic Census is every 5 years. n/t (3+ / 0-)
      •  Forgot about that... (0+ / 0-)

        making the EC every 2 years would actually increase government spending because the EC is currently taken every 5 years.

        Again, I personally think it's overkill to have the ACS done every single year, but it does serve a legitimate purpose.

        •  The ACS schedule is more complex than that. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ColoTim, dsb

          Yes, the numbers are released annually, but the forms themselves are actually being sent out each month -- when you look at how many homes get them each month, it works out to about 1 in 480.  There are 3 different kinds of annual ACS data: one year estimates, three year estimates, and five year estimates.  You can read about them here.  Depending on how many people in an area, in order to get a reliable sample size at the rate they're surveying, it can take more than one year worth of surveying to hit enough people.  So areas greater than 65,000 population have 1 year estimates, areas greater than 20,000 population have annual rolling 3-year estimates, and all areas surveyed have annual rolling 5-year estimates.  1-year estimates are more current, 5 year estimates are more precise.

          It's a complex process that can't just shift to an "every other year" scenario.

          If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

          by AnnieJo on Wed May 16, 2012 at 12:33:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  To paraphrase Joe Biden... (14+ / 0-)

    ...this is a big effing deal.

    I use the ACS data on a daily/weekly/monthly basis to support research on environmental health.

    The ACS replaced detailed demographic detail formerly only available through the SF-3 and SF-4 files of the decennial census.

    Because people move around a lot, and the population of particular places grow and / or shrink a lot - understanding populations at risk is way, way more accurate with the annual moving average of the ACS compared to the decennial census.

    Oh, yeah, because the ACS was operational there was no detailed (SF-3/4) data collected in the most recent census.

    Odd, it's okay to eavesdrop on email without regard to privacy, but not okay to field a voluntary survey based on supposed privacy concerns.

    Also, too, it's cheaper than building embassies in Baghdad.

    •  The Survey is NOT "voluntary" (0+ / 0-)

      It is mandatory, once you've been "selected" to fill it out.  

      Odd, it's okay to eavesdrop on email without regard to privacy, but not okay to field a voluntary survey based on supposed privacy concerns.
      Yeah, I see what you're saying about the Republican hypocrisy re "privacy concerns".  But hey, I'll take concessions on the "privacy concerns" where ever we can get 'em these days.

      "I'm glad I don't know how it feels to vote to withhold basic human rights from someone else." DavidW-DKos

      by sockpuppet on Wed May 16, 2012 at 01:50:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Same with the CPI (3+ / 0-)

        Which we are currently in. They make it as easy on a household as possible, which is pretty darned easy.

        This is the survey I refer to in a comment way below as the Cost of Living survey, which it also is.

        Organ donors save lives! A donor's kidney gave me my life back on 02/18/11; he lives on in me. Please talk with your family about your wish to donate.

        Why are war casualty counts "American troops" and "others" but never "human beings"?

        by Kitsap River on Wed May 16, 2012 at 03:37:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Daniel Webster (13+ / 0-)

    sent me an email today with a single poll question:

    Do you think the government needs to spend upwards of $2.5 billion to intrude on your privacy to ask how many toilets you have or inquire about your emotional state?  
    Of course, I checked the "yes" box.

    What a maroon.

    There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.

    by puzzled on Tue May 15, 2012 at 05:58:08 PM PDT

  •  missed it before (8+ / 0-)

    thanks for the revisit...flippin' A...what a joke!

    I have worked with HUD programs for 15 years, rely on Census and ACS data heavily for all kinds of community studies to identify the needs of our residents as it relates to fair housing, affordable housing, housing quality, low income households, racial diversity, aging population, and the list goes on.  

    Everyone at the city and county levels I work at are asking for MORE data, not less!

    Every day I just want to bash my head against the wall...with the utter lack of comprehension of the stupidity of the Republicans, Tea Party and Grover Norquist worshiping zealots...seriously, without snark...REALLY?  Sigh.

    Please...PLEASE...would the freakin' pendulum start swinging back the other way already...in a hurry!?!  Wouldn't hurt if it knocked a lovely selection of legislators off their pedestals on the way too.

    "If I can't change the world, I'll change the world within my reach" - Catie Curtis & Mark Erelli

    by Heather in SFBay on Tue May 15, 2012 at 06:00:42 PM PDT

  •  These people are dangerous. (19+ / 0-)

    They want to eliminate economic data because it reveals the extent of income inequality. They want to eliminate demographic data because they want to stop ethnic minorities from voting. They're trying to cripple our weather monitoring satellites because they want to deny global warming.

    •  That needs repeating " These people are Dangerous" (8+ / 0-)
    •  Starve the beast (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, cobaltbay, wasatch, ColoTim

      Starving the beast is a typical (and entirely predictable) Republican tactic. The first step is to slash funding. Second is to use gov't ineffectiveness as an obnoxious talking point. Third step is to kill it with popular support ("see, government can't do healthcare like Blue Cross! Sorry your cancer made you unprofitable, little Johhny. Now shuffle on...")  

      The money left over will go straight to the vultures at Wall St and the military industrial complex.

      I can't even say "penny wise, dollar stupid" at this. From a managerial perspective, this is full blown retarded. But deep down, the Kochs and Romneys of the world are salivating from all the windfall they're gonna get from this.

      At some point, the wealth distribution is going to be so unequal that the %99 can't afford anything, and the whole thing will just collapse from greed.

      I'm secretly throwing up inside

    •  All of the above comments so true + privatization (0+ / 0-)

      Control of data in private hands means more power and money. Until they've acquired all and any things of value, and it all runs dry, then look out for your body parts, they'll be after that once they've gotten their cold hearted reptillian bloody hands on everything.

  •  Also includes information about transportation... (6+ / 0-)

    You know, like how many households have cars, how long their commutes take, and what modes of transportation they take to get to work.

    I know with certainty that many jurisdictional transportation and planning departments refer to such data when deciding how much new developments will effect traffic and can be mitigated with non-SOV modes of transportation.

    Party of "know-nothing" indeed. What a gaggle of admitted dumbfucks. And I don't feel badly saying that.

    "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~Edward Abbey ////\\\\ "To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships." ~W.E.B. DuBois

    by rovertheoctopus on Tue May 15, 2012 at 06:56:07 PM PDT

    •  We got asked about a bunch of that, too (3+ / 0-)

      I just checked, and the official name of the survey for which our household was selected is the Consumer Expenditure Survey. I think that three homes in our area were selected. They go by address for selection and are not aware of the demographics of the people that live there until those people first meet the Census agent.

      Party of know-nothings, yes indeed.

      Organ donors save lives! A donor's kidney gave me my life back on 02/18/11; he lives on in me. Please talk with your family about your wish to donate.

      Why are war casualty counts "American troops" and "others" but never "human beings"?

      by Kitsap River on Wed May 16, 2012 at 03:47:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It is pretty clear already what is going on in (6+ / 0-)

    America.

    Ignorance is us.

    The Republican motto.

    The more we don't know, the more we won't know.

    The New Tea Party Republican mascot:

    The Muslim said "I wished I had met Christ before I met the Christians" - Rev. Marvin Winins

    by captainlaser on Tue May 15, 2012 at 07:38:34 PM PDT

  •  Reminds me of our own Conservatives (5+ / 0-)

    (ie: in Canada) who also seem to be trying to get rid of useful survey data. And also citing privacy issues, which they can't back up. I guess the Republican Party North also doesn't like facts that get in the way of their ideology.

    Voluntary long-form survey controversy

    To light his way, he wore a lamp whose element glowed perfect blue. His was the light of reason, the light we should have shone upon that world.

    by Ergaster on Tue May 15, 2012 at 08:22:13 PM PDT

  •  Don't forget: (10+ / 0-)

    this also kills jobs.  There are hundreds (if not thousands) of people employed as field reps on this national survey.  Don't the Republicans care about jobs?  Silly question.

  •  It Isn't Needed (7+ / 0-)

    The Army of Lobbiests in Washington will TELL
    Congress All they Need to Know.

    Besides, If Congress doesn't Know what is really
    going On, Then they Don't have to do a Damned thing
    to Fix It.

    Mission Accomplished.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Tue May 15, 2012 at 08:48:37 PM PDT

  •  Ok where is the money trail? (7+ / 0-)

    It almost sounds like one of the public to private cash grabs that is happening in state after state with our roads, prisons, and more.

    But where are the privatization efforts?  Where are the non compete bills like we've had proposed in Congress (the one that sticks out from the past was the bill that proposed NOAA wasn't to complete vs the Weather Channel, etc)

    If it really is about sticking their head in the sand.  Well I have some news for them.  That isn't sand where they're planning on sticking their heads.

  •  The republican resistance to the census (9+ / 0-)

    is strong.  I worked for the Census last time around and you should hear the comments from wingers who didn't even want to give  their basic information.  This floors me as the same folks think nothing of posting  sensitive even intimate details on Facebook.  I came to believe that  just reflects how anti government they are.

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Wed May 16, 2012 at 03:00:28 AM PDT

    •  I would add - how anti-government (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo, Dave in Northridge, wasatch

      they have been Fox-washed to be.  Re the privatization musings in the comment above yours -- I wonder how they'd react if a Facebook or some other such private entity came around knocking on doors with the surveys.  Heh.

      If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

      by AnnieJo on Wed May 16, 2012 at 03:16:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The General Census (0+ / 0-)

      is fine, and not "invasive" of privacy, to me.  But the American Community Survey is off the scale of invasion of privacy of American citizens.

      And yes, I know it gives employment with the Census to individuals whose job it becomes to come out and endlessly harass those of us in person, who have refused to fill out the stupid thing.

      I am most definitely not a winger-Republican.  Or really, not even Centrist.  More to the radical progressive side.  And I totally repudiate the ACS.  

      "I'm glad I don't know how it feels to vote to withhold basic human rights from someone else." DavidW-DKos

      by sockpuppet on Wed May 16, 2012 at 01:54:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, the heck it is. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AnnieJo, DRo, Charles CurtisStanley

        The Consumer Expenditure Survey asks a bunch of questions about how we spend our money as a guide to how people around our area are spending theirs. Why the hell should I care if the government knows how much our electric bill is, or what years our cars are? Don't they know the latter anyway, as we have to renew the licenses for them annually? This data will directlyhelp determine the CPI, which in its turn will influence what COLA, if any, I see from my Social Security benefits.

        Yes, it is mandatory. Our names and our address doesn't get entered, just our area. It's not like every detail is going into the database with our names and our home address attached to it. This is not invasive of our individual privacy because of that.

        Organ donors save lives! A donor's kidney gave me my life back on 02/18/11; he lives on in me. Please talk with your family about your wish to donate.

        Why are war casualty counts "American troops" and "others" but never "human beings"?

        by Kitsap River on Wed May 16, 2012 at 03:59:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Problem Is The Bureaucratic Nuisance (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sockpuppet
          Why the hell should I care if the government knows how much our electric bill is, or what years our cars are? Don't they know the latter anyway, as we have to renew the licenses for them annually?
          Precisely -- if they can't be bothered to look in existing records, why should I go to the trouble of remedying their deficiencies? This is the sort of foolishness that gives "government" a bad name and makes people receptive to teabagger arguments.

          I got one of the jumbo questionnaires at one point. I filled it out, but I didn't allow it to waste any significant amount of my time -- if I didn't know something off the top of my head, I wrote down a vague guesstimate. I'm sure lots of other people did likewise, which is one reason why mandatory participation is contraindicated.

          On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

          by stevemb on Wed May 16, 2012 at 04:46:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I would rather supply the info (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AnnieJo

            to the Census than have them combing through my records here and there.  I am much more comfortable with having the Census ask me directly than with having them spy on me or you or anyone else.

      •  Just don't answer the survey! (0+ / 0-)

        If you think the survey is too intrusive, just refuse to answer the questions.

        ... or change the law so that answering the survey is optional rather than repealing the ACS.

        Problem solved.

        •  Do a google search on the ACS (0+ / 0-)

          "objections to" and read the stories of the folks who have refused to answer it.   Everyone else's story helped me to formulate the strategy I need to take to avoid both answering the damn survey, and how to avoid all the harassment they went through by Census agents in efforts to compel them to answer.

          So sure, if it was so easy to just refuse...no problem.  But that's not how it works.

          However, for all the threats from Census induhviduals trying in person to get answers to the ACS, threats of jail time or huge fines (and it was a $5,000 fine for giving misinformation -- that appears to've been changed since just last year) for refusal, they're empty threats so far.  Because the Census Bureau doesn't want a court challenge to how invasive this survey is.

          "I'm glad I don't know how it feels to vote to withhold basic human rights from someone else." DavidW-DKos

          by sockpuppet on Wed May 16, 2012 at 06:17:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  In the absence of carefully obtained data... (7+ / 0-)

    ...loudly proclaimed, fervently asserted belief becomes the only source of "Truth."

    These guys really do believe they can create and change reality as it fits their desires.

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Wed May 16, 2012 at 03:08:51 AM PDT

  •  Bet that unemployment statistics (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, ColoTim, AnnieJo, DeanObama

    will be the next data that the radical-right Republicans will try to stop.

  •  Good for them. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sockpuppet

    The ACS needs to be eliminated, or at least made voluntary.  No one has ever been fined under the ACS enforcement provisions because they don't want a court battle, which the government would almost certainly lose.

    If the government wants this data (Which they claim is so trivial people disclose it on Facebook) then they can get it voluntarily, without a $5000 fine for noncompliance.

    •  Um, if there has never been a fine, why (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AnnieJo

      do you then say there is?  Just pointing out the logical problem with your argument.

      •  READ THE ACS REQUIREMENTS (0+ / 0-)

        http://uscode.house.gov/...

        -EXPCITE-
            TITLE 13 - CENSUS
            CHAPTER 7 - OFFENSES AND PENALTIES
            SUBCHAPTER II - OTHER PERSONS

        -HEAD-
            Sec. 221. Refusal or neglect to answer questions; false answers

        -STATUTE-
              (a) Whoever, being over eighteen years of age, refuses or
            willfully neglects, when requested by the Secretary, or by any
            other authorized officer or employee of the Department of Commerce
            or bureau or agency thereof acting under the instructions of the
            Secretary or authorized officer, to answer, to the best of his
            knowledge, any of the questions on any schedule submitted to him in
            connection with any census or survey provided for by subchapters I,
            II, IV, and V of chapter 5 of this title, applying to himself or to
            the family to which he belongs or is related, or to the farm or
            farms of which he or his family is the occupant, shall be fined not
            more than $100.
              (b) Whoever, when answering questions described in subsection (a)
            of this section, and under the conditions or circumstances
            described in such subsection, willfully gives any answer that is
            false, shall be fined not more than $500.
              (c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, no person
            shall be compelled to disclose information relative to his
            religious beliefs or to membership in a religious body.

        And here is some of the very invasive information they collect after they get the specific names and birthdates of each person in a residence.

        http://www.census.gov/...

        "I'm glad I don't know how it feels to vote to withhold basic human rights from someone else." DavidW-DKos

        by sockpuppet on Wed May 16, 2012 at 02:03:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was just pointing out that s/he said that (0+ / 0-)

          nobody has been fined for it, and by the way the fine is $5000 (at least the sections from your post makes it a maximum of $500).  I wasn't arguing about whether or not a fine is threatened, I was just pointing out they were saying fines aren't levied and yet they're threatened, which seems a contradiction.

          •  The induhviduals the Census sends out (0+ / 0-)

            to repeatedly harass those of us who refuse to answer the "Survey" constantly threaten jail and the fines when we still refuse to talk to 'em.

            I give 'em fake info, but just reasonable enough so apparently they don't question it and leave us alone afterward.  But I have had 'em come to the door and try to get info on my neighbors who've refused to fill it out.  Yeah, good luck with that.

            "I'm glad I don't know how it feels to vote to withhold basic human rights from someone else." DavidW-DKos

            by sockpuppet on Wed May 16, 2012 at 02:40:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And I live in a very liberal, (0+ / 0-)

              blue, Democratic neighborhood.   In Northern California, ferchrissake.   So don't imply that we're just ig'nert rednecks out in the sticks who feel this way about them varmit Census takers.

              "I'm glad I don't know how it feels to vote to withhold basic human rights from someone else." DavidW-DKos

              by sockpuppet on Wed May 16, 2012 at 02:53:42 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Oh well... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              pixxer
              I give 'em fake info, but just reasonable enough so apparently they don't question it and leave us alone afterward.
              So much for reality-based decisionmaking in government.

              Do you have the same policy with providing information to your doctor? Try it, and see how well that works out for you.

              If you were asked to participate in a scientific study, would this be your policy? What purpose does such behavior serve? Certainly not the interests of truth or sense or good policy.

              It's very sad to see.

              Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.

              by rcbowman on Wed May 16, 2012 at 10:36:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Reality-Based Decision (0+ / 0-)

                Not collecting the data at all is a mechanism for avoiding reality, for obvious reasons. (This is, of course, the motivation for the Republican attempt to kill off the survey.)

                Requiring respondents to answer the survey is also an avoidance of reality -- anybody who thinks about it for two seconds will realize that there are two types of respondents: those who would make the effort to fill it out accurately even if it were purely voluntary and those who will just make stuff up and send it in to avoid the hassle of being pestered.

                Ergo, the only reality-based policy is to keep the survey, but remove the response mandate.

                On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

                by stevemb on Thu May 17, 2012 at 03:31:28 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Uh, no. (0+ / 0-)

                  Most people are lazy. How many things you don't really have to answer go unanswered? If you're like most of us, it's an embarrassingly large number.

                  A voluntary survey is only marginally more accurate than your average (voluntary) internet poll, which is to say not a bit accurate. Statistical sampling models require that the respondents be as randomly chosen as possible, and those who will volunteer to fill out the questionnaire are a self-selecting group, which ipso facto skews the results.

                  Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.

                  by rcbowman on Thu May 17, 2012 at 08:46:36 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It's The Best Real-World Option (0+ / 0-)

                    The choices are:

                    1. The possibly skewed answers from random respondents who voluntarily return the survey, or

                    2. The possibly skewed answers from random respondents who voluntarily return the survey combined with random noise answers from people who fill in the form with made-up gibberish so they won't have to be bothered any further.

                    Obviously, 1 is closer to accurate than 2.

                    On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

                    by stevemb on Fri May 18, 2012 at 10:53:18 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Nothing obvious about it. (0+ / 0-)

                      That assumes that requiring the survey to be returned does not result in any increase in quantity or proportion of honest respondents. I do not know the figures, but I suspect you could find studies on these manners of statistic gathering, and I would be astonished if the effect of greatly increased numbers of returns were not to outweigh the returns which are filled out by the slapdash and impatient.

                      My business attends large retail shows, and each year the promoter issues 'statistics' on how much money was made per exhibitor the previous year. We have reason to believe the promoter is honest in presenting their statistics, but the only way they have of collecting them is via a voluntary survey, presented at the end of the show when everyone's tired. Who fills them out? The people who had a great show, and the people who have extra people with time to fill such things out. The exhausted ones who scraped through or did badly, and who are small businesses doing all the work themselves, largely don't bother. You can find this out by talking to them. The result is that the amount of money reported per respondent is absurdly high, and this is what they assume and report to be the amount made per exhibitor.

                      That is the style of skew you get from a fully voluntary survey. There is no mechanism in this case to require the survey to be returned, really, but if you could, sure, you'd get some people returning it with slapdash answers, a few dishonest answers, and a bunch who sort of took a guess. But you would also get lots more replies than you currently do, and they would not be skewed so severely to those who are happy with the results and away from those who are discouraged.

                      You could test this somewhat by issuing the ACS to twenty or more times the number usually issued (which you'd have to start doing anyway if you made it voluntary, to get anything worthwhile out of it at all), but make 10% of those required as they currently are. Compare the statistical results of the ones returned from 90% to those of the 10% involuntary and see where the skew is to be found. Do this ten or fifteen times and you might have enough information to get away with making the ACS voluntary, because you'd have a way to estimate the direction and degree of the voluntary-respondent skew.

                      Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.

                      by rcbowman on Sun May 20, 2012 at 12:57:51 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

    •  Making the ACS "voluntary" makes it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DeanObama, rcbowman

      more expensive and less reliable -- less statistical bang for more taxpayer bucks.

      As for "needs to be eliminated"... you've made no argument, just stated an opinion.  See the diary for mine, and those of various business and statistical experts.  If you'd like to debate the points outlined in the diary, go right ahead and make a case.

      If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

      by AnnieJo on Wed May 16, 2012 at 01:59:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Are you, AnnieJo, by any chance (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        stevemb

        an employee of The Census Bureau?  Just wondering.  Or are you one of those who is employed to go out to physically confront American citizens and residents who have refused to fill out this (bogus) ACS?

        Sure, there are "various business and statistical experts" who might need all this valuable data on all of us.  But I guarantee you, all this info is available from many other sources.  

         My name, residence address and date of birth is plainly available to the DMV, the IRS, and the State tax authorities.   What car I drive, where I work, how many children I have (or not), how much money I made last year:  all this is already available to governmental sources, without me having to provide it to some UNSECURED induhvidual who comes to my house to demand that I give it to them.

        This is not a wingnut issue, per se.  I'm as liberal/progressive as they come.  But I'm also very interested in our Constitutional guarantees of individual privacy.  

        This ACS is not the way to gather the information "statistics" might need.   Eliminate any personally identifying information on the form, and make it really voluntary, and then I might consider participating.

        Have you, yourself, AnnieJo, ever filled out an ACS form?  Have you ever even really seen one?  Even the website http://uscode.house.gov/... is oblique about revealing what the questions actually are.  You gotta dig deep on the site to get 'em.  "Sample" questions are readily provided, with the caveat that "these are not the actual questions asked".  WTF?!

        "I'm glad I don't know how it feels to vote to withhold basic human rights from someone else." DavidW-DKos

        by sockpuppet on Wed May 16, 2012 at 02:27:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A very thoughtful point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sockpuppet
          Or are you one of those who is employed to go out to physically confront American citizens and residents who have refused to fill out this (bogus) ACS?
          •  Or...since the diarist is a DATA librarian (0+ / 0-)

            by her own admission, I wonder if she works, if not for the Census Bureau directly, then for one of the private subcontractors contracted to "data-mine" all this information coming from the compelled ACS?

            Somehow, it just seems that her post is just too cheerleading, too detailed, too "pat" to have been posted just because of what the House did yesterday.   Much as I respect all her other work here for the Wisconsin Recall, I do question if this diary wasn't prompted by her "employer/s"?   Like part of a PR campaign?

            Nothing wrong with that.  Everybody needs to work these days.   But in the interests of full disclosure, if she is affiliated in any way with the data-mining of the ACS, then she should say so.   Just sayin'.

            "I'm glad I don't know how it feels to vote to withhold basic human rights from someone else." DavidW-DKos

            by sockpuppet on Wed May 16, 2012 at 05:59:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No PR campaign here. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rcbowman

              My employers didn't ask me to write this, nor do they know I've done so.  I learned about the issue through my work & I've been following as it's been discussed by other data professionals.  And when media interest was still slowly ramping up a week later but I still hadn't seen it treated in detail at DK, I took it as an opportunity to share what I'd been tracking, and where my thoughts were taking me.  (The vote was a week ago, not just last night.)

              Look, I appreciate the dissenting viewpoint -- makes diary-comments more interesting.  But I'm finding myself put off by your level of suspicion about me.  It makes me less inclined to sympathize with your level of suspicion about the ACS.  Is this a general outlook on life, or does it only come into play when government surveys are involved?  I don't think I've ever been looked askance at for being too thorough and organized before.  Then again, I'm a librarian, so thorough and organized is kind of my game.

              Thanks for the props for my Wisconsin work, anyway.

              If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

              by AnnieJo on Wed May 16, 2012 at 06:40:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  So you want Census workers (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LeighAnn, rcbowman, AnnieJo

          to go through your DMV records, your state and federal tax records and "many other sources?"  Just so you know, your tax records are not available for this kind of thing, but if that's what you want...

      •  Making It Voluntary Would Improve Accuracy (0+ / 0-)

        Do you really think that somebody who doesn't want to be bothered is going to go to the trouble of pulling out old records to accurately report their electric bill and whatnot? Nope -- they're just going to make up a number and write that down.

        On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

        by stevemb on Thu May 17, 2012 at 11:28:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Census is Evil (6+ / 0-)

    It is all facts, all the time.  No spin, no opinion.   Republicans hate facts.  Facts are evil.  Ergo, the Census must die.

    If you can't see a society crumbling in the statistics, it is not really crumbling.  In Republicans, stupidity goes all the way to their petrified bones.

  •  Who needs to know this stuff? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IreGyre, ColoTim, Kitsap River
    when you God to tell you everything you need to know about running a government.  Censuses - who cares about the Constitutional requirements? It's all a socialist plot, and the ACS is even more so. WE HAS PRIVACY! We don't want no communist Agenda 21, you can say gay here, indoctrinatin' our young patriots into a homosexualist lifestyle, you can't tell our kids can't take their guns into their schools, and by the way, if they want to bully those gay kids at school, our kids have a first amendment religious right to do so. The law says so!
    Dear Kossacks, this isn't snark. This is what is actually going on here in the state of Tennessee. And here's some links for you:

    Tennessee House Falls Victim to Agenda 21 Conspiracy Theory

    TN Don't Say Gay Bill to Get Axed  (Don't get happy yet, there's more to come)

    TN Sex Ed Bans Mention of "Gateway Sexual Behavior" (Problem: "GSB" mentioned in the law, but there are really are Conservative Christians who want hand holding banned in schools.)

    And last of all -

    TN Christian Right-to-Bully Law (Bullying a Gay? It's OK if you are a Christian.)

    "I have spent many years of my life in opposition and I rather like the role." - Eleanor Roosevelt. I would like to add that I am a happy atheist!

    by Rogneid on Wed May 16, 2012 at 07:58:27 AM PDT

  •  crazy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ColoTim

    What's with these people; the government can kill you with drone missiles. It can imprison you indefinitely. It can put you in a uniform and send you off to get killed. It can take your house and property. It can execute you.

    And not even a peep from these people about it.

    But let the government ask you how many comodes you have and that's government overreach? These people must have the most misaligned sense of reality this side of a crack house.

    "There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home." John Stuart Mill

    by kuvasz on Wed May 16, 2012 at 08:44:09 AM PDT

    •  You forgot that government can tell you (0+ / 0-)

      who to have sex with, what sexual positions are allowed, who you can/cannot marry, when you can have medical procedures and what lies your doctor can tell you about your condition.

  •  control of information (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IreGyre, ColoTim

    If you control information, you can create imaginary numbers for anything and the size of the U.S. is so vast there is no real way of proving or disproving the numbers.  Much like 1984 you can change the numbers anytime you like.  If the GOPers were smart they would have kept the "Census" or "ACS" names and just not actually do the surveys.  Save money and still provide information.  Much like the old USSR and Nazi regimes, you can print what ever you want regardless of the fact and without any real evidence (via control of media, restrictions on internet, etc.) how can people argue with you - even though they know what is going on by looking around them.  

    I don't subscribe to any CT, but it is starting to look rather scary.

    Two quotes I wish to live by "Strength and Honor" (Gladiator) and "Do or Do Not, There is no Try" (SW-ESB).

    by SQD35R on Wed May 16, 2012 at 08:56:58 AM PDT

  •  Reminds Me Of This B5 Scene (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IreGyre, ColoTim

    An increasingly fascist EarthGov has sent "political officer" Julie Musante to the station to keep an eye on things:

    Sheridan: Fine, uh, fine! Status quo. Uh, we have had some problems with the lurkers, but nothing...
    Musante: Lurkers?
    Sheridan: It's our version of the homeless. In many ways, we have the same problem Earth does.
    Musante: Mm. Earth doesn't have homeless.
    Sheridan: Excuse me?
    Musante: We don't have the problem. Yes, there are some, um, displaced people -- here and there --- but, um, they've chosen to be in that position! They're either lazy or they're criminal or they're mentally unstable.
    Sheridan: They can't get a job.
    Musante: Earthgov has promised a job to anyone that wants one. So, if someone doesn't have a job, they must not want one!
    Sheridan: Poverty?
    Musante: Mm -- It's the same.
    Sheridan: Crime?
    Musante: Yes, there is some, but it's all caused by the mentally unstable. And we've just instituted correctional centers to filter them out at an early age.
    Sheridan: Prejudice?
    Musante: Hm? No, we're just -- one happy planet!... Well, all right, there's the Marsies! But that won't change until they stop fighting the Earth rule.
    Sheridan: And when exactly did all this happen?
    Musante: When we rewrote the dictionary. Captain, you're a good man. You're a fine soldier. A leader. You understand that sometimes, before you can deal with a problem, you have to redefine it.
    Sheridan: But you can't deal with the problems by pretending they don't exist.
    Musante: There's no need to embarrass our leaders by pointing out the flaws in our society that they're aware of and dealing with in their own way. Some people just enjoy finding fault with our leaders -- they're anarchists, they're troublemakers, or they're simply just unpatriotic!

    On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

    by stevemb on Wed May 16, 2012 at 10:10:44 AM PDT

    •  B5 is the best!!!! (0+ / 0-)

      got to rewatch that series and the movies.  

      So much in science fiction that mirrors (or even predicts) the problems of today and how it could turn out.  

      (side note, NASA once said that the small fighter ships used in the series were the most accurate portrayal of how a fighter of the future would operate.  Also B5 used several Hubbel telescope shots for background shots during may of the space animation scenes).

      Two quotes I wish to live by "Strength and Honor" (Gladiator) and "Do or Do Not, There is no Try" (SW-ESB).

      by SQD35R on Wed May 16, 2012 at 01:45:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Republicans, Let's Be Honest (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ColoTim, AnnieJo, jan4insight

    The more information humans gather, the more wrong they know you are. That's why you don't like statistics.

  •  oath of office and pii (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ColoTim, AnnieJo, Kitsap River, Bright

    I was a census bureau employee for the decennial census as well as the American Housing Survey last summer and fall.

    We definitely took an oath of office just like the president and Congress. We are also bound for life by Title 13, US Code, to protect personally identifiable information ("pii"). From my perspective everything I saw during my time at census was that the law was taken very seriously and everything was considered "need to know."

    The privacy complaint re: data breaches by census is so much of a red herring it's comical. If the GOP REALLY cared about our privacy, why aren't they screaming to the heavens about the NSA and other gov entities illegally wiretapping our voice, data, and text communications via their illegal connections into telco switches?

    "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -5.54

    by solesse413 on Wed May 16, 2012 at 10:55:17 AM PDT

  •  This bill goes hand in hand with CISPA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ColoTim, sockpuppet

    The reason they think it's okay to cancel surveying, is because they think they've got better ways to get data now...  Mainly by making it legal for social networks to sell it to everyone (business and gov't) and for everyone to do whatever they want with it without getting sued.  I mean, really, why bother surveying people anymore when you've already tapped all their phones, read all their e-mails, and downloaded everything on their Facebook pages?  They're doing this because they already have the capability to get all the information they want, and get better information than the Census.  All they need is to be allowed to do it legally.

  •  Have any of you objecting to this (0+ / 0-)

    repudiation of the ACS by the House ever had to actually fill out an American Community Survey form?

    I have.  Twice.  And it is extremely invasive of my privacy.  I've been outraged both times we've been required to participate in it.  

    Whatever you might say about the "valuable information" it provides for yada, yada, yada,  it is also a goldmine for identity theft and data mining for 3rd parties who should have no access to this information about American citizens or residents.  

    No way.  I stand up and applaud the Republican stance against this stoopid ACS, even though it was mostly pursued and implemented during the BushCo years, so they could have more data on all of us.    However misguided might be their reasoning for doing it, I'm very relieved to have the ACS on the ropes.  I hope it sticks in the Senate.

    My blood starts to boil every time I'm reminded about this ugly invasion of our privacy.  And of course we didn't provide any accurate info on it.  Hardly anyone with half a brain does, so what's the point?  It's a wide net to catch any unsuspecting fools, in my very experienced opinion on the matter.

    If the data provided by the ACS is as important as some of you have proclaimed in these comments, then the whole thing needs to be revised so that private, individually identifying information is eliminated, and all the data is extremely secure from any identify theft.    I mean it.

    (Data like:  "the names and birthdates of every individual living at this address; where they work; when they leave for work; when they come home; how far they drive to work; what ethnicity are they; how much income did each have during the past 12 months"; etc. etc. ad-effing-nauseum!!  These are real question fields on the Survey.)

    "I'm glad I don't know how it feels to vote to withhold basic human rights from someone else." DavidW-DKos

    by sockpuppet on Wed May 16, 2012 at 01:46:56 PM PDT

    •  Yes, I know what's on the survey. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eleaba, Amber6541, raines

      I'm a data librarian.  I've filled it out myself as well.  Accurately, might I add.

      The ACS questions are the same as what's been on the long form for many years, so it's not actually a Bush-presidency thing.

      If you've read the comments, you've seen the following from Census worker solesse413:

      We definitely took an oath of office just like the president and Congress. We are also bound for life by Title 13, US Code, to protect personally identifiable information ("pii"). From my perspective everything I saw during my time at census was that the law was taken very seriously and everything was considered "need to know."
      Personally identifiable information is not released; the data is secure.  And a lot fewer people are lying on the form than you suppose (based on your anecdotal "n of 1").

      If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

      by AnnieJo on Wed May 16, 2012 at 02:28:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you've seen it and filled it out (0+ / 0-)

        then I have no further comment.  We have to just agree to disagree that giving all this personally identifying data to the .gov via the Census Bureau is a sane and reasonable thing to do.

        Just because the individuals have to take some "oath" to not disclose information, why is it that so many of us are also outraged by the data mining going on via gathering of our emails and phone calls?  Don't we trust everyone in the .gov getting ahold of this information to be honorable with it?   I don't.  And that is just a healthy attitude in today's privacy-invasive milieu.

        "I'm glad I don't know how it feels to vote to withhold basic human rights from someone else." DavidW-DKos

        by sockpuppet on Wed May 16, 2012 at 02:35:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oh. A DATA librarian (0+ / 0-)

        Employed by the Census Bureau?

        As a "data librarian", I can see how have more and more data collected helps you to keep your employment.  Job security.

        Might your line of occupation be influencing your enthusiasm for the ACS?

        Just wondering...

        "I'm glad I don't know how it feels to vote to withhold basic human rights from someone else." DavidW-DKos

        by sockpuppet on Wed May 16, 2012 at 02:45:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No. My job does not depend on the ACS. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sockpuppet, Amber6541

          I'm employed by a university.

          However, my line of work does mean that I know something about the ACS and how it is used.

          It's interesting -- usually I'm having to reason with students to explain why the government (or anybody else) isn't collecting whatever data that individual might happen to want, and making it available online for free!

          If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

          by AnnieJo on Wed May 16, 2012 at 05:16:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We'll just have to agree to disagree (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AnnieJo

            about the ACS.   Just because you or some other people don't mind giving the .gov any and all information it asks for on this invasive "survey", doesn't show or prove anything about the ACS; only that to do so may be naive, or even foolish.  Time will tell...

            "I'm glad I don't know how it feels to vote to withhold basic human rights from someone else." DavidW-DKos

            by sockpuppet on Wed May 16, 2012 at 06:04:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Personally Identifiable Information (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sockpuppet

        I'd be more willing to trust this assurance if the survey took the obvious precaution of not having the respondent put any personal identification information on the form in the first place.

        On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

        by stevemb on Wed May 16, 2012 at 04:56:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Are you worried about someone intercepting (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eleaba, Amber6541, AnnieJo

      the form when you mail it back?  Because once it's received by the Census Bureau, the data is only released in aggregated form.  For instance, X number of people in Census Block Y drive 0-5 minutes to work, X number of people in Census Block Y drive 6-10 minutes to work, etc.  

      When it is released, there is no way to connect the information that you provide back to you.  The only way that I can think of would be for someone to intercept your mail.

      To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

      by sneakers563 on Wed May 16, 2012 at 02:38:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This comment is so myopic (0+ / 0-)

        I just don't have the time or energy to explain all the privacy hazards involved with giving this very private, sensitive, personally identifying information to whoever on the other side of the mailing, to the Census.

        First of all, yes, it could be intercepted anywhere along the line in the USPS.   It has all the data on it anyone could need for identity theft, except the actual SSN, but it's been shown that's not necessary these days to steal identity.

        Then...it also reveals the actual, physical address of said survey responder, including the times and days that the person/s in the household come and go every day.  To work.  What time do they leave?  What time do they return?  Where do they work?  How long does it take 'em to get home?  Sure.  A perfect setup for a burglary or stalking, or worse.

        No.  I do not trust some Census taker with this info.  Do not.

        "I'm glad I don't know how it feels to vote to withhold basic human rights from someone else." DavidW-DKos

        by sockpuppet on Wed May 16, 2012 at 02:50:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't mean to be myopic (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AnnieJo, sockpuppet, Amber6541

          It's an honest question.  I'm just trying to understand your concerns better.  

          I suppose that in addition to what you've outlined, there's the danger of large scale thefts of information as has happened with credit card companies.  I don't know I would really worry about common burglarly or stalking as there are a heck of a lot of easier ways to determine that info, but YMMV.

          I wonder if there was ever been a confirmed case of someone using census data to commit a crime.

          To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

          by sneakers563 on Wed May 16, 2012 at 03:13:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Forgot About Those Questions (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sockpuppet

          Re my previous comment:

          1. I'm not an idiot, so I know off the top of my head what time I usually come and go every day.

          2. I'm not an idiot, so I didn't tell anybody else the actual times I usually come and go every day.

          On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

          by stevemb on Wed May 16, 2012 at 04:59:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Good. The less info they get, the better. (0+ / 0-)

            Maybe the Senate Republicans will help kick this ACS to the curb, once and for all.   I'll never understand why Democrats haven't responded to their constituents for years about our concerns over this invasive "survey" of American citizens.

            "I'm glad I don't know how it feels to vote to withhold basic human rights from someone else." DavidW-DKos

            by sockpuppet on Wed May 16, 2012 at 05:50:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Our home was selected to participate (4+ / 0-)

    in the annual Census Bureau Cost of Living survey. We're in this all year. We go through a series of four interviews, about things like our demographic data and what we spend in a three-month period on specific categories of things. Things like auto fuel and repairs, furniture (Charles got me for my birthday the dining table and chairs I've had my eye on for 11 years), appliances large, appliances small, phone bills cell and landline, Net connectivity, clothing, on and on and on. It is quite detailed. The Census Bureau agent, a nice woman named Diane, comes to our house for the interview at a time which is convenient for us both, which means after 8 pm on a weeknight so that Charles is also home. It is pretty painless, though it does take a couple of hours to go through all the categories. This survey helps with things like determining the COLA for my SSDI  benefits.

    The ACS is even more helpful than the Cost of Living survey. I am shocked to see it cut, even in this Congress. You'd think that with all the very real job creators who rely on this data, that it would be something they protect. Goes to demonstrate once again that the Republicans care not a whit for job creation, only about shoveling even more money to the richest of the rich.

    Organ donors save lives! A donor's kidney gave me my life back on 02/18/11; he lives on in me. Please talk with your family about your wish to donate.

    Why are war casualty counts "American troops" and "others" but never "human beings"?

    by Kitsap River on Wed May 16, 2012 at 03:26:33 PM PDT

    •  Did you look at the ACS site (0+ / 0-)

      link I posted above?  As to the kinds of details the survey is asking for?   Are they asking you these kinds of details?  

      I wouldn't mind telling 'em what kind of car I drive, or what I want to purchase in the future, or whatever else you listed.  That is not what is in the ACS.   It's all appalling data mining of a very personal nature, all of which is profiling each one of us who answers the damn thing.

      "I'm glad I don't know how it feels to vote to withhold basic human rights from someone else." DavidW-DKos

      by sockpuppet on Wed May 16, 2012 at 06:24:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Matter of fact, I ought to diary about being in it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AnnieJo, Charles CurtisStanley

    I think I'll do just that the next time Diane comes over, which ought to be late June or early July.

    Organ donors save lives! A donor's kidney gave me my life back on 02/18/11; he lives on in me. Please talk with your family about your wish to donate.

    Why are war casualty counts "American troops" and "others" but never "human beings"?

    by Kitsap River on Wed May 16, 2012 at 03:28:44 PM PDT

  •  Maybe they'll privatize it. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, AnnieJo

    In response to complaints from the likes of Forbes magazine, they'll now say "of course we need the data. But the Gummint can't be collecting that stuff. That would be a breach of privacy. So let's get a private company to do it." After all, what could possibly go wrong?

    Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.

    by rcbowman on Wed May 16, 2012 at 08:58:00 PM PDT

  •  I am intrigued (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, AnnieJo

    at the extreme reluctance to give info to the Census when people are fine with giving out much more personal info to private companies.  For instance, how many people think twice when asked to supply their Social Security number to a bank or credit card company or hospital?  These private companies do not suffer any penalties when this info is accidentally released.  The Census does not ask for SSNs and there are strict confidentiality requirements regarding Census info.

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