Jul 7, 2006

answer this survey... or else

The phone rings, and a robot wants to know if you prefer paper or plastic. The man with clipboard and pen approaches you at the food court: fill out a few answers on this survey about nachos and receive a $5 check. At the bottom of your Target receipt, you're offered a shot at a $5000 shopping spree if you hop online and share your thoughts about the jewelry department. (If spam is to be trusted, online survey-taking could replace your day job.) Your opinion matters, and the survey is your soapbox.

Unless you're like most people, in which case a survey is an intrusion on a level of the no-knock raid or a prostate exam.

Skip this survey, though, and you could pay, big-time. It's called the American Community Survey, and if you're one of a lucky three million families, it's headed your way.
Ralph Lee, director of the Seattle Census office, says this survey is mandatory. If you get one of these forms, you are required by law to fill it out and return it. If you don't respond within a month, you'll be sent a second survey. If you don't respond by the second month, the Census office will try to call you. If they don't reach you, they might send someone to your house to try to collect the data.
If you still refuse, you could be fined up to five thousand dollars.

Why no carrot, and such an awfully big stick?

9 comments:

Blogmastergeneral said...

Most Americans don't mind surveys. Normal people enjoy thinking their opinions are important. If you don't believe me, ask around.

CalGal said...

Searched Blogger for "American Community Survey" and your post came up second! (I know it's not Google, but we are here!) I just started a blog JustSayNo.The American Community Survey Trying to generate some activity and awareness because most people just comply because they are intimidated. Every month, 250,000 of these intrusive "paper dossiers" are mailed out to "target counties". The ACS is fully funded through 2007 and most likely won't have any future problems because it is wholly supported. Even the ACLU approves! Go Figure.

Anonymous said...

If people actually paid attention in their school government classes when in school they would recall being taught about a Census and how Title 13 of the United States Code covers the Census. It is a Law. If you can not comply by the laws of the United States; hey go live elsewhere. If the people who waste all their time complaining about this 'intrusion' in there lives; go live in another country for about 5 years and then come back and tell everyone how 'intrusive' this survey really is. YOUR tax dollars that are paid into the government is allocated back into YOUR communities through the Census statistics that are gathered from the questions that are asked. I've been through the American Community Survey and there is no question that they are asking that is so 'personal' that anyone would be able to steal beans from me. Asking how much your property is worth; thats PUBLIC INFORMATION. Your neighbor can go down to the local tax office or county appraisal district and find out how much your house is worth, what you pay in taxes, how long you've owned it, the square footage, etc. Any other question asked, you can ask the Census taker why they ask the certain question and the worker can tell you why it is asked. The questions are asked to make statistics to help YOUR community and to help them aquire funds for programs in your town. I personally would rather answer the questions and allow the statistics to be gathered so my town would be able to get a grant for certain programs the government funds instead of my property taxes going up to pay for the programs. Also remember this, that Census worker has been put through a complete FBI background check. Can you say that for the person who fills out and completes your taxes for you(you give them your social security number and bank information most of the time), what about the cashier at WalMart or your local bank for that matter, you give these people way more personal information that can actually lead to identity theft. So think about; and do some research before you start whining and complaining about something so minute.

Anonymous said...

If the ACS is so great and magical, why do they have to threaten people who don’t respond? (“Tell us if you have trouble bathing yourself OR ELSE…!”) If the info is public anyway, the CB workers can get it themselves.

Anonymous said...

On the ACS, there is a question requesting information about "the fertility status of the females in the home" which is, quite simply, inappropriate ... and it crosses the line. (And, this particular question is just stupid...for anyone of childbearing age, fertility status is constantly changing throughout the month. They need to think through their wording more carefully.) And what is their statutory authority for requiring this information? (None) Additionally, in this day and age of identity theft, I am not going to answer any survey that comes with an unsigned cover letter, no matter how "official" the letterhead appears to be. Our first survey form was the unfortunate victim of a water spill at the dinner table. Darn!

Matt Paul said...

I filled out my Census form with pride a couple of months ago. Yesterday I received "The American Community Survey". No big deal, until they start asking me what I make, what our mortgage is, hoew much my electric bill is, what my equity loan payments are, where I work, how much education I have, and whether I served in the military (Again, consult the military! They know I served and when, aren't they part of the governement?). They also want to know this about each member of our family. I say "Call the IRS, they know how much I make." This is WAY to personal for my comfort. No wonder we have a huge deficit, how much do you think these things cost to print and mail out? Who is reading my personal info? Is it one of the 400,000 "new" job holders created just for this census? What a load of bull. I wouldn't share this information with anyone, not my sons school, not an employer, why should I be threatened by my government? What purpose can this information possibly have? Are people "just saying no?" What can I do?

Anonymous said...

The ACS is PAST a level of privacy that I'm willing to put up with. I don't share this info with my family, what on earth makes them think I would send it to some government flunky. I know how the government works. If you send this info in, it will be shared with ALL agentcies of the government. If anyone thinks the IRS want get it, You better go back to school. That is only the beginning of who will get it. This is also looking for illegals, hopeing they are stupid enough to fill it out. This is not one the freedoms we fought for. I,m NOT filling this out & I'm not going to pay a fine of $5000.00. I am disabled & I guess I,ll be going to jail.

Anonymous said...

I too, am of the mindset that this is all way too personal. As someone mentioned above, this is info I wouldn't tell my next of kin, let alone the biggest bureaucracy on the planet.

My question is this: It clearly states that there is a penalty for not RESPONDING. Does that mean if I put my name on it, leave the rest blank, and mail it back, that I have complied with the letter of the law? I mean, I responded didn't I?

Anonymous said...

The survey would be fine without the names stuff. The reason given for asking names is ridiculous...it might as well have said BECAUSE WE DON'T TRUST YOU! I am a fair tax proponent because then no one in overnment will have a need or right to know my income...no more who is "rich" or not unless they want to volunteer it. Will ignore and play this one out to the end game to see if they are serious. I think I could design a survey that people would answer voluntarily...perhaps enhanced with a sweepstakes lottery. Anyway, this points to the problem of the federal government...it tends to take our money so they can give it back (with strings attached) for things. If they stuck to their limited constitutional powers there would be none of this crap. Cut the federal taxes and let the communities decide what they want and raise the funds there.