Why the Federal Government Is Broke (Census Edition)

Earlier this week, I received in the mail an envelope marked “United States Census 2010.” Thinking that this must be the infamous 10 question survey the federal government will send out as part of the population count it takes every 10 years and has been advertising all over the television, radio, and print media, I opened the envelope to discover a simple one-page letter that read as follows:

Dear Resident:

About one week from now, you will receive a 2010 Census form in the mail (emphasis in original). When you receive your form, please fill it out and mail it in promptly.

Your response is important. Results from the 2010 Census will be used to help each community get its fair share of government funds for highways, schools, health facilities, and many other programs you and your neighbors need. Without a complete, accurate census, your community may not receive its fair share.

Thank you in advance for your help.


Robert M. Groves

Director, U.S. Census Bureau

So, let me get this straight. They mailed every household in the country a letter saying that they are going to send something else the next week?! And that’s not all. We will reportedly also be receiving a postcard reminding us to fill out the Census survey after it arrives. After all, why do something once when you can do it three times? It’s not their money anyway. (It’s ours, the taxpayers’!) Oh well, at least we’re keeping the unemployment rate down by paying more government employees to stuff envelopes—not to mention the hundreds of thousands of census takers being hired to go door to door asking citizens for personal information.

The Census Bureau is already under fire for its $133 million advertising campaign that includes $2.5 million for ad spots run during the Super Bowl (which, to add insult to injury, were critically panned), $1.2 million to sponsor NASCAR racer Greg Biffle’s No. 16 car for three Sprint Cup races, and a Dora the Explorer “public awareness campaign.”

This may be small potatoes compared to the trillions of dollars the federal government is on the hook for its various bailout and “stimulus” programs, the $12.5 trillion national debt, $6.6 trillion in unfunded Social Security obligations, or $36.3 trillion in unfunded Medicare liabilities, but it is a microcosm of government operations. The economy is in shambles, unemployment continues to hover near 10%, yet the government still finds new ways to waste money.

Maybe the Census Bureau should ask U.S. citizens if they think their government has grown much too big and intrusive, and if they’d like to drastically reduce the size and scope of government. I’d tell them, “Count me in!”