Census: It’s Important… Really, REEAALLLY Important

For Your Reading // Learn Something // Non Sequitor

Right-wing radio is making an issue of the fact that the Census Bureau is over budget already. They also don’t think the money spent on the Super Bowl Commercial was wisely allocated.  I’m enormously supportive of the idea of the Census being everywhere, including the Super Bowl. In modern society, you have to be completely overwhelmed with something for it to register as a big deal. The Census is certainly a big deal. So I’m glad that I saw an ad at the movie theater last night. It’s on TV, fliers litter the streets, it’s in the papers, on the radio, even on the internet: Census 2010 Website (it’s actually pretty awesome; you should check it out).

On that note, the Census has sent out its questionnaires, and if you’re even thinking about not filling it out or sending it in, read on:

You see, there is a tremendous amount riding on this year’s Census. The political wonk in me wants to wax poetic about the Census’s effects on redistricting: the process which immediately follows the Census where we reexamine each State’s allotment of Congressmembers and redraw our legislative district lines, from Congress to City Council, accordingly. NY will likely lose a congressional seat, and our State Legislature’s lines will be redrawn to either promote or prevent progressive legislation for the next 10 years, depending on the party in power when the lines are drawn.

But, that’s not even the worst consequence on not fulfilling your civic duty. Our esteemed Borough President Scott Stringer just sent me an email that sums it up pretty well:

Based on the results of the Census, the federal government distributes $400 billion in aid among the states – a significant portion of which may benefit New York City.

This funding supports vital social service programs that may affect you or someone you know, such as the Medical Assistance Program for healthcare, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers for public housing, Federal Transit Capital Investment Grants for transportation initiatives, Title I Grants for our schools, Head Start educational programs and many more. Without these programs, thousands of families would go without public housing assistance and New York City children would lack additional educational programs to help them succeed in school. That is why every person must be counted.

The letter goes on to explain that this is a community outreach effort coordinated by Manhattan elected officials and community groups to get the word out.  They have a Facebook group. Become a fan! You can watch a video from the Census below.

Also, watch Christopher Walken answer a Census on SNL 20 years ago here. The Census Bureau does not count candy bars or plants.