Sunday, November 19, 2006


Welcome to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Bush. Typically I don’t like to frighten my readers, but Sean and I received an AMERICAN COMMUNITY SURVEY (ACS) in the mail a few weeks ago and filed it with all of the other tremendously important items we get (circular file). Then we got another one. Followed by a phone call from a census taker saying that by law we had to complete the survey or a census taker would be sent to our house.

As are all Americans, we are accustomed to a visit once every ten years by a friendly neighborhood census taker, who blithely asks how many persons are living at our address and other such harmless questions. But, this survey is personally and financially intrusive. It would be as if Bush walked into your living room and asked you to bend over and show him the rash between your ass cheeks. We were still not sure it was not a hoax. So, we checked it out online. Sure enough, our nightmare is real. Here is the site and the form.

Sean asked me to complete the form since I like to do that sort of thing. I was appalled. First and second page asks for your name, address, date of birth, sex, then it asks for the relationship of the persons in the house. Simple for me; I am heterosexual and married. The other choices are husband or wife, son or daughter, brother or sister, father or mother, grandchild, in-law, other relative, roomer/boarder, housemate/roommate, unmarried partner, foster child, other nonrelative. Others of you may have issues with this question.

Page 3 is a bit more interesting. We finish with marital status and continue with race. In this admitted melting pot of ours, I’m glad don’t have to come up with this part of the survey. First it asks if are Spanish/Hispanic/Latino or not. If so, do you consider yourself Puerto Rican, Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano, Cuban, or other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino print group? Or are you White, American Indian or Alaska Native – Print name of enrolled or principal tribe, Chinese, Native Hawaiian, Asian Indian, Samoan, Guamanian or Chamorro, Other Pacific Islander – Print race below, Japanese, Black or African American, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, Other Asian –Print race.

Okay. So what if you are a mix of say African American and Filipino? What race do you put then? And whose fucking business is it anyhow?

The next three pages deal with housing and are as follows:

Do you live in a house, apartment, mobile home, van, RV, boat, etc.. What is the size of your home? When did you move there? When was it built? How many acres is your home on: less than 1, 1 to 9.9, more than 10? In the past 12 months, what were the actual sales of agricultural products from your property: None, $1 to $999, $1,000 to $2,499, $2,500 to $4,999, $5,000 to $9,999, $10,000 or more? Is there a business on your property? How many rooms, not counting bathrooms are in your house? How many bedrooms are in your house that you would list if it were for sale or rent? Is there telephone service available in this house, apartment, or mobile home from which you can both make and receive calls? Does this house, apartment, or mobile home have COMPLETE plumbing facilities; that is, 1) hot and cold piped water, 2) a flush toilet, and 3) a bathtub or shower? Does this house, apartment, or mobile home have COMPLETE kitchen facilities; that is, 1) a sink with piped water, 2) a stove or range, and 3) a refrigerator? How many automobiles, vans, and trucks of one-ton capacity or less are kept at home for use by members of this household?

I am including lots of detail so that you can get an idea of how much is being asked for on the new survey. So, why does George want to know about our plumbing? Is he planning a visit? Wants to make sure he can flush? Housing questions continue:

Which FUEL is used MOST for heating this house, apartment, or mobile home: 1) Gas: from underground pipes serving the neighborhood 2) Gas: bottled, tank, or LP 3) Electricity 4) Fuel oil, kerosene, etc. 5) Coal or coke 6) Wood 7) Solar energy 8) Other fuel 9) No fuel used? LAST MONTH, what was the cost of electricity for this house, apartment, or mobile home? Last month’s cost – Dollars OR Included in rent or condominium fee No charge or electricity not used. LAST MONTH, what was the cost of gas for this house, apartment, or mobile home? Last month’s cost – Dollars… got the gist of this yet? IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS, what was the cost of water and sewer for this house, apartment, or mobile home? If you have lived here less than 12 months, estimate the cost.

He wants to make sure the heat isn’t going to be shut off while he is there with his flashlight staring up your butt.

At any time DURING THE PAST 12 MONTHS, did anyone in this household receive Food Stamps? Past 12 months’ value – Dollars If Yes, what was the value of the Food Stamps received during the past 12 months? Is this house, apartment, or mobile home part of a condominium? Monthly amount – Dollars If yes, what is the monthly condominium fee? For renters, answer only if you pay the condominium fee in addition to your rent; otherwise, mark the "None" box. Is this house, apartment, or mobile home – owned by you or someone in this household with a mortgage or a loan Owned by you or someone in this household free and clear (without a mortgage or loan)? Rented for cash rent? Occupied without payment of cash rent? What is the monthly rent for this house, apartment or mobile home? Does the monthly rent include any meals?

Offended yet?

What is the value of this property; that is, how much do you think this house and lot, apartment, or mobile home and lot, would sell for if it were for sale? Less than $10,000; $10,000 to $14,999; $15,000 to $19,999; $20,000 to $24,999; $25,000 to $29,999; $30,000 to $34,999; $35,000 to $39,999; $40,000 to $49,999; $50,000 to $59,999; $60,000 to $69,999; $70,000 to $79,999; $80,000 to $89,999; $90,000 to $99,999; $100,000 to $124,999; $125,000 to $149,999; $150,000 to $174,999; $175,000 to $199,999; $200,000 to $249,999; $250,000 or more – Specify.

Notice how he is only interested in us poor folks. How about now? More on housing:

What are the annual real estate taxes on THIS property? What is the annual payment for fire, hazard, and flood insurance on THIS property? Do you or any member of this household have a mortgage, deed of trust, contract to purchase, or similar debt on THIS property? Yes, mortgage, deed of trust, or similar debt? Or contract to purchase? How much is the regular monthly mortgage payment on THIS property? Include payment only on FIRST mortgage or contract to purchase. OR No regular payment required. Does the regular monthly mortgage payment include payments for real estate taxes on THIS property? Yes, taxes included in mortgage payment No, taxes paid separately or taxes not required. Yes, insurance included in mortgage payment. Does the regular monthly mortgage payment include payments for fire, hazard, or flood insurance on THIS property? No, insurance paid separately or no insurance. Do you or any member of this household have a second mortgage or a home equity loan on THIS property? Yes, home equity loan. Yes, second mortgage. Yes, second mortgage and home equity loan. No. How much is the regular monthly payment on all second or junior mortgages and all home equity loans on THIS property? Monthly amount – Dollars OR No regular payment required. What are the total annual costs for personal property taxes, site rent, registration fees, and license fees on THIS mobile home and its site? Exclude real estate taxes.

Do you or any member of this household live or stay at this address year round? Yes or No? How many months a year do members of this household stay at this address? What is the main reason members of this household are staying at this address? This is their permanent address. This is their seasonal or vacation address. To be close to work. To attend school or college. Looking for permanent housing. Other reason(s)– Specify.

Well, that’s it for what the government wants to know about your housing (for now). Now, they want to know more about YOU. Now, now, don’t be shy. Actually it is against the law to be shy here. You must answer all the questions. So, if you are female, lay back and put your feet in the stirrups and scooch you butt down to the end of the table, and male, bend waaaay over and spread those legs 'cause away we go…

Please copy the name of Person 1 from the List of Residents on page 2, then continue answering questions below. Last Name, First Name. Where was this person born? In the United States – Print name of state. Outside the United States – Print name of foreign country, or Puerto Rico, Guam, etc. Born abroad of American parent or parents? No, not a citizen of the United States. U.S. citizen by naturalization? Is this person a CITIZEN of the United States? When did this person come to live in the United States? Year?

And now that we know whether or not you are a potential person of interest, we determine if you went to a terrorist camp…

At any time IN THE LAST 3 MONTHS, has this person attended regular school or college? Include only nursery or preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, and schooling which leads to a high school diploma or a college degree. No, has not attended in the last 3 months. Yes, public school, public college. Yes, private school, private college. What grade or level was this person attending? Nursery school, preschool, Kindergarten, Grade 1 to grade 4, Grade 5 to grade 8, Grade 9 to grade 12, College undergraduate years (freshman to senior), Graduate or professional school, (for example: medical, dental, or law school). What is the highest degree or level of school this person has COMPLETED? If currently enrolled, mark the previous grade or highest degree received. No schooling completed Nursery school to 4th grade, 5th grade or 6th grade7th grade or 8th grade, 9th grade, 10th grade, 11th grade, 12th grade – NO DIPLOMA, DIPLOMA or the equivalent (for example: GED), HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE – high school, Some college credit, but less than 1 year, 1 or more years of college, no degree, Associate degree (for example: AA, AS), Bachelor’s degree (for example: BA, AB, BS), Master’s degree (for example: MA, MS, MEng,MEd, MSW, MBA), Professional degree (for example: MD, DDS, DVM,LLB, JD), Doctorate degree (for example: PhD, EdD).

Okay, but now we need to discuss your ethnicity in greater detail because we didn’t cover that enough on page 3. Got that?

What is this person’s ancestry or ethnic origin? (For example: Italian, Jamaican, African Am., Cambodian, Cape Verdean, Norwegian, Dominican, French Canadian, Haitian, Korean, Lebanese, Polish, Nigerian, Mexican, Taiwanese, Ukrainian, and so on.)

So I am 25% French Canadian (why do they care?) and 25% English Canadian (so if they care about the French, why not about the English?) and 50% Austrian. But, who really gives a fuck and what the hell business is of theirs anyhow? Why don’t they just ask if I am a terrorist? The next question makes sense: Does this person speak a language other than English and if so what is it? Now at least they will know what kinds of translators they will need down at the agency to understand all of those phone calls of ours they are taping. They also want to know how well you speak English in case they have to bring you in for questioning later. See, all the bases are covered.

Next they want to know how long you have lived in the house or apartment and where you lived 1 year ago (please provide full address by the way including whether it was inside city limits or not). I ask, "Why?"

Just in case you didn’t think any of the questions were personal yet, here are some more to get you thinking.

Does this person have any of the following long-lasting conditions: a. Blindness, deafness, or a severe vision or hearing impairment? b. A condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting, or carrying? Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition lasting 6 months or more, does this person have any difficulty in doing any of the following activities: a. Learning, remembering, or concentrating? b. Dressing, bathing, or getting around inside the home? Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition lasting 6 months or more, does this person have any difficulty in doing any of the following activities: a. Going outside the home alone to shop or visit a doctor’s office? b. Working at a job or business? [Bold added by FVS]

So what ever happened to a patient’s right to privacy and medical confidentiality? Was that all just lip service (and not the good kind)? As a disabled American this really has me pissed off! Offended yet? Ah, but there is more dear readers…

First we can upset new mothers: Has this person given birth to any children in the past 12 months?

Then we can upset Grandparents:

Does this person have any of his/her own grandchildren under the age of 18 living in this house or apartment? Is this grandparent currently responsible for most of the basic needs of any grandchild(ren) under the age of 18 who live(s) in this house or apartment? How long has this grandparent been responsible for the(se) grandchild(ren)? If the grandparent is financially responsible for more than one grandchild, answer the question for the grandchild for whom the grandparent has been responsible for the longest period of time. Less than 6 months, 6 to 11 months, 1 or 2 years, 3 or 4 years.

And next the military just because they have not already sacrificed enough…

Has this person ever served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, military Reserves, or National Guard? Active duty does not include training for the Reserves or National Guard, but DOES include activation, for example, for the Persian Gulf War. Yes, now on active duty. Yes, on active duty during the last 12 months, but not now. No, training for Reserves or National Guard only. No, never served in the military. Working at a job or business? Yes, on active duty in the past, but not during the last 12 months. When did this person serve on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces? Mark (X) a box for EACH period in which this person served, even if just for part of the period. September 2001 or later, August 1990 to August 2001 (including Persian Gulf War), September 1980 to July 1990, May 1975 to August 1980, Vietnam era (August 1964 to April 1975), March 1961 to July 1964, February 1955 to February 1961, Korean War (July 1950 to January 1955), January 1947 to June 1950, World War II (December 1941 to December 1946), November 1941 or earlier. In total, how many years of active-duty military service has this person had? Less than 2 years, 2 years or more.

Now, that we have all of that covered, let’s talk about your work ethic, you lazy bum. So, the prez wants to know if you got off your lazy ass and worked last week? But, he’s not going to settle for just knowing that he wants to know what time you got your lazy ass out of bed…

LAST WEEK, did this person do ANY work for either pay or profit? Mark the "Yes" box even if the person worked only 1 hour, or helped without pay in a family business or farm for 15 hours or more, or was on active duty in the Armed Forces. At what location did this person work LAST WEEK? If this person worked at more than one location, print where he or she worked most last week. a. Address (Number and street name) If the exact address is not known, give a description of the location such as the building name or the nearest street or intersection. b. Name of city, town, or post office c. Is the work location inside the limits of that city or town? Yes or No, outside the city/town limits d. Name of county e. Name of U.S. state or foreign country f. ZIP Code. How did this person usually get to work LAST WEEK? If this person usually used more than one method of transportation during the trip, mark the box of the one used for most of the distance. Car, truck, or van, Bus or trolley bus, Streetcar or trolley car, Subway or elevated Railroad, Ferryboat, Taxicab, Motorcycle, Bicycle, Walked, Worked at home. How many people, including this person, usually rode to work in the car, truck, or van LAST WEEK? What time did this person usually leave home to go to work LAST WEEK? (a.m. p.m. Hour Minute) How many minutes did it usually take this person to get from home to work LAST WEEK? Minutes. LAST WEEK, was this person on layoff from a job? LAST WEEK, was this person TEMPORARILY absent from a job or business? Yes, on vacation, temporary illness, labor dispute, etc. Has this person been informed that he or she will be recalled to work within the next 6 months OR been given a date to return to work?

Okay, so now that we’ve determined that you are a slacker and probably high all the time we continue to the next questions…

Has this person been looking for work during the last 4 weeks? LAST WEEK, could this person have started a job if offered one, or returned to work if recalled? Yes, could have gone to work, No, because of own temporary illness, No, because of all other reasons (in school, etc.). When did this person last work, even for a few days? Within the past 12 months, 1 to 5 years ago, Over 5 years ago or never worked. During the PAST 12 MONTHS, how many WEEKS did this person work? Count paid vacation, paid sick leave, and military service. During the PAST 12 MONTHS, in the WEEKS WORKED, how many hours did this person usually work each WEEK? Usual hours worked each WEEK.

So, let’s say that you are a hard working mother fucker and you sweat your ass off everyday paying Uncle Sam. Now, he wants to know just how you do that.

IF this person worked in the past 5 years... CURRENT OR MOST RECENT JOB ACTIVITY. Describe clearly this person’s chief job activity or business last week. If this person had more than one job, describe the one at which this person worked the most hours. If this person had no job or business last week, give information for his/her last job or business. Was this person – an employee of a PRIVATE FOR PROFIT company or business, or of an individual, for wages, salary, or commissions? an employee of a PRIVATE NOT FOR PROFIT, tax-exempt, or charitable organization? a local GOVERNMENT employee (city, county, etc.)? a state GOVERNMENT employee? a Federal GOVERNMENT employee? SELF-EMPLOYED in own NOT INCORPORATED business, professional practice, or farm? SELF-EMPLOYED in own INCORPORATED business, professional practice, or farm? working WITHOUT PAY in family business or farm? What kind of business or industry was this? Describe the activity at the location where employed. (For example: hospital, newspaper publishing, mail order house, auto engine manufacturing, bank) the business. For whom did this person work? If now on active duty in the Armed Forces, mark this box and print the branch of the Armed Forces. Name of company, business, or other employer. Is this mainly – manufacturing? wholesale trade? retail trade? other (agriculture, construction, service, government, etc.)? What kind of work was this person doing? (For example: registered nurse, personnel manager, supervisor of order department, secretary, accountant) What were this person’s most important activities or duties? (For example: patient care, directing hiring policies, supervising order clerks, typing and filing, reconciling financial records.)

Sean kept urging me to put stuff like managing terrorists on the form. I think not. Now we get to the nitty gritty. What are you worth? Income baby!!!

INCOME IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS. Mark the "Yes" box for each type of income this person received, and give your best estimate of the TOTAL AMOUNT during the PAST 12 MONTHS. (NOTE: The "past 12 months" is the period from today’s date one year ago up through today.) Mark the "No" box to show types of income NOT received. If net income was a loss, mark the "Loss" box to the right of the dollar amount. a. Wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, or tips from all jobs. Report amount before deductions for taxes, bonds, dues, or other items. For income received jointly, report the appropriate share for each person – or, if that’s not possible, report the whole amount for only one person and mark the "No" box for the other person. b. Self-employment income from own nonfarm businesses or farm businesses, including proprietorships and partnerships. Report NET income after business expenses. Loss c. Interest, dividends, net rental income, royalty income, or income from estates and trusts. Report even small amounts credited to an account. d. Social Security or Railroad Retirement. e. Supplemental Security Income (SSI). f. Any public assistance or welfare payments from the state or local welfare office. g. Retirement, survivor, or disability pensions. Do NOT include Social Security. h. Any other sources of income received regularly such as Veterans’ (VA) payments, unemployment compensation, child support or alimony. Do NOT include lump sum payments such as money from an inheritance or the sale of a home. What was this person’s total income during the PAST 12 MONTHS? Add entries in questions 41a to 41h; subtract any losses. If net income was a loss, enter the amount and mark (X) the "Loss" box next to the dollar amount. Continue with the questions for Person 2 on the next page.

So, you list all of those amounts and come up with a grand total and person 1 is complete. Yay! Now you only have to do all that for all the people in your house.

This all began in 2005 and the ACS is the future of the census and will be done ANUALLY by 2010. That’s right folks. All of us will have to do this every year. How the hell did this get passed and none of us knew about it? Where is the mainstream media? I guess the ACLU has some lawsuits going and some survivalist groups are up in arms. But WTF? It is not good when I side with the survivalists. I am typically not the paranoid type either.

Imagine the statistical power of all of this data. It boggles the mind. So much data, so little time. The ACS cost hundreds of millions to develop. What else could we have used those funds for? How did your representative vote on this? Some say that the questions are unconstitutional and fines of up to $100 are unenforceable and that we should contact our local newspaper, congressman and senator and hire a lawyer. Sounds like a plan. What do you think?

All this seriousity. I think you guys deserve a reward.


David said...

I don't know. In the right hands, this information is very valuable and could do a great deal of good. It always comes down to whose hands this is in and why.

I think it is important to ask about food stamps and such, because I don't think the Gov has a clear idea how many people live in poverty. We all know the official unemployment figures are grossly underplayed.

I think the section on ethnicity was well thought out and since it provided write-in space, that is where you could say you were African-American/Phillipino.

Nothing is ever perfect. Sorry this upset you so.

Sue said...

Okay, but why do they want to know what time we go to work? Or if we have a mental or emotional condition that prevents us from bathing?