Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Little Civil Disobedience

Earlier this year I received a package in the mail from the U.S. Census Bureau.  It contained a survey that was called something like "American Household Survey" (I can't remember the exact name.)  I was instructed that I had to complete and return the survey as soon as I was able and that my response was required by law.  Since I was quite busy at the time, and because there was no deadline, I put off reading and completing the survey.  I received a second survey in the mail.  And then the phone calls started.  So, feeling that I needed to do my civic duty, I pulled out the package and began filling it out.

At the beginning of the survey, I was asked basic questions such as my age, sex, how many people lived in my home.  Then I was asked to answer questions such as how many bedrooms I had in my home and, if I were to sell my house today, how much I would list it for.  Some of these questions I skipped and told myself I'd go back to the later.  However, as the questions became more and more personal, I stopped completing the form.

The questions that gave me the most concern were:  What time do you leave for work?  How long does your commute take?  My understanding was that the survey was to help the federal and local governments improve services such as schools, emergency services, and roads, and to better allocate resources.  I began to wonder what these questions had to do with providing me with better services.  

Ultimately, the Census Bureau ended up receiving a partially completed form.  Essentially, I only answered questions that I felt would help the government determine if our area needed more schools or hospitals.  (By the way, what we really need is high speed internet.)  Of course, not long after returning the survey, I received a call.  The caller wanted to go over the form with me because I hadn't answered some of the questions.  I informed her that I knew I hadn't answered those questions and that I elected not to answer them.  (After all, the form said I was required by law to respond but it didn't say I had to respond to all the questions.)  The Bureau worker then asked if she could put me on record as saying that and I agreed.  Well, the Bureau is now leaving voice mail messages for me, again.  I'm now wondering when they're going to come for me...


Shona~ LALA dex press said...

Very happy I have not received this letter. Although a question like "what time do you leave for work" would have to be answered "on what day of the week?" They would eventually come after me too.

Have a great day.

Deanna said...

I received that survey a year or two ago. I filled out a few things, left most blank and mailed it back. Never heard from them again. Glad to hear I'm not the only disobedient one. ;)