Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Concerning Article 1, Section 2

... of the United States Constitution; it states, in part:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years ...

The portion which was emphasized above, was subsequently modified by the 14th Amendment, Section 2:

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed ...

You get the idea. Every ten years, the Nation has to do a head count, so we know how to compose the membership of the lower house of Congress, otherwise known as The House of Representatives.

Which brings us to the United States Census.

On the first of April, 1980, I was twenty-five-and-a-half years old, and living with my parents, so they took care of it. In 1990, my marriage was falling apart, so the early half of that year is a blur. In 2000, I was living in a basement studio apartment that wasn't really a separate residence, so I was counted as part of the family upstairs. The 2010 census is the first one in which I am truly in charge.

They gave me ten easy questions, most of which, if I read the above portions of the Constitution correctly, are none of their damn business. So I filled out the number of people living in my house, and their names. Nothing more.

Now, the good folks at the United States Census Bureau have assured me that my personal information is protected by the Privacy Act. That did not stop FDR from using such information to identify Americans of German, Italian, and Japanese descent in 1942. Nor did it prevent President George "Dubya" Bush from using such information to identify Arab Americans in 2002 and 2003, under the Patriot Act. The point is, such assurances are rather meaningless.

That isn't even the end of it. Consider the public service ads encouraging same-sex couples who are "married" to list themselves as such. These so-called "marriages" that are recognized in five states and the District of Columbia, are not recognized under Federal law. That's right, the Federal government is actually encouraging people to break the law as codified in the Defense of Marriage Act. Don't believe me? See for yourself.

Now, I've heard there are serious penalties for not filling out the form completely (and they must add that operative word for it to be legally specific). But I'm not aware of such a law invoking any penalties, nor did I read of any such penalties in the package they sent me. If you're going to play fast and loose with the law when idiot-proofing a government form, you should at least be specific.

The problem is, it is exactly what the Founding Fathers wanted to prevent. It was the fear of absolute power in the hands of an absolute few, which propelled them to break ties with the greatest empire of their day. If those who lead have the power to ignore that which are entrusted to protect, without consequence, it calls to mind what Thomas Jefferson said: “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

But they know my address, so they can look up the phone number I didn't give them, and ask me why I didn't answer all the questions. I'll be happy to tell them of the oath I took to protect, not the Government itself, but the Constitution of the United States. If they give me a hard time, what should I tell them?

I dunno. What would YOU tell them?

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