• Paper wait

censusstuff

I have a propensity to fill up a paper shredder every few days. That’s because, like many people, I am inundated with mailings from all sorts of sources who are of utterly zero interest to me — greedy banks, “charity” fundraisers who spend more on themselves than on the charities, frantic auto dealers, desperate real estate salespersons, gaudy sweepstakes operations … .

What I do look at are mailings from governmental entities. Not because I may learn something from them. They invariably are skewed to simply push a point of view or a reelection campaign, which sometimes are one and the same. No, it is because I love to watch my tax dollars at work.

A newly-elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives from my area, a nice gentleman I know casually who was a pretty good state-level legislator for many years, didn’t make a very good impression on me with his first major mass-mailing since taking office. It is a four-page, glossy printed mailer titled “Rebuilding bridges. Rebuilding our economy.”

It contains two photos of the congressman, a picture of a newspaper story about a local bridge project, a picture of what one presumes is that project, and a laundry list of the “accomplishments” of the Congress.

Somewhat interesting, but only to a degree. The same message could have been gotten to his constituents via e-mail, radio, TV, newspapers, and Web sites. It is neither necessary nor budget-minded to spend our dollars on a slick handout.

But the merits of that item can be debated to some extent. What really can’t was the other piece of literature I received the same day: a letter from the U.S. Census Bureau telling me that in a few days I would receive a letter from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Oh yes they did.

The opening paragraph explains what the impending letter also will tell me, I’m sure:

“In a few days your household will receive a questionnaire in the mail for a very important national survey, the American Community Survey. When the questionnaire arrives, please fill it out and mail it back promptly. The U.S. Census Bureau is conducting this survey and chose your address, not you personally, as part of a randomly selected sample.”

Interesting that this very process nullifies any statistical viability of such a survey.

Your government in action. Usually it’s your government inaction. I don’t know which I prefer these days.

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About Bill Dowd

Webmaster/social media coordinator for the Southern Rensselaer County NY Rotary Club.

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