The US Government spent 2.5 million to buy a Super Bowl ad to tell us how important the US Census is, to our community. The big white envelope arrived at my house with big black words that said "YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW". Should I put on my tin foiled hat and refuse to answer because I believe in government conspiracies?; Should I refuse to fill out the Census and see if I am really a "law breaker"?; Is the Census really that important?
You can find blog support on the internet for all three questions, depending on where you click. I suspect that Ron Paul will run on an anti-Census platform for President next time. Plus, there is a certain streak in me that admittedly doesn't react well, when someone says that I have to answer a bunch of personal questions to help out the government and my community, so it made me go and do some research.
Under the US Code Title 13 Chapter 7, it does say in a brief summary, that refusal to answer or giving false answers is "against the law". Possibly receiving an envelope in the mail does not necessarily fall within the interpretation of being "asked by the secretary". However, if the government does not receive a response from your household, they can send someone to your door, called an enumerator, to request answers.
What happens if you don't answer the Census? What is the threat of the big print on the big white envelope. Well, not answering can subject you to a fine of, hold your wallet,……. $100. If you provide false answers, you can be fined $500. False is worse then no.
They tell us that the personal information is secure. In fact, if an enumerator or other census employee does give out your information, they can be fined up to $5000. However, when it says that the Census is entirely secure and only used for the purpose of tax money to your locale or redistricting for political office purposes, that isn't entirely correct. For instance, Homeland Security has access to your information, when they deem it necessary. It is public record that in 2002 and 2003, they collected census answers to learn about particular groups.
I guess the concluding thought is that if you don't answer the census, then you aren't helping your area get valuable tax dollars and benefits. In today's environment, I am guessing that many don't really trust someone who says "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you". It's like most things, the Census is based on good intentions. Unfortunately, many believe that the government now serving us, has the ability to abuse those intentions that were set up, when the Census was formed constitutionally by our founding fathers.