There is a specter haunting America ... the specter of paperwork!
Yesterday, Tennessee Congressman John Duncan (R, TN-2) voted with a nearly unanimous bloc of House Republicans to rid America of the scourge of
too big to fail banks Al-Qaida sleeper cells reality television intrusive and unnecessary census surveys.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Duncan & Co. voted to quash the Census Bureau's monthly American Community Survey because ... Big Brother.
No, really. Big Brother wants you to fill out a piece of paper and, should you refuse, lock you in Room 101 and throw away the key forever, or until you submit to the state, a broken shell of your former self.
"It seems to me that is Big Brother type of government," Duncan shamelessly told the Sentinel.
Duncan and a number of federal lawmakers, mostly Republicans, are pushing to eliminate the American Community Survey, which the Census Bureau sends out every month to 250,000 households across the country.
The questionnaire asks Americans everything from their ethnicity to how much they earn to whether they rent or own their own homes.
This week, the U.S. House voted 232-190, mostly along party lines, to prohibit the Census Bureau from using federal funds to conduct the survey. All four of the House members from East Tennessee voted in favor of the legislation.
Duncan said he can't think of any reason why the government needs to know how Americans get to work, how many bedrooms are in their homes or whether or not they have hot and cold running water — all questions that are posed on the survey.
"It's just ridiculous how detailed these questions get," Duncan said. "It seems to me there's just almost no privacy anymore, and it just keeps getting worse and worse."
Good gravy! It's just ridiculous that bureaucrats would want to know relevant statistical information about my household to plot their social engineering schemes on my unwitting proletarian family. Ridiculous!
But while Duncan's admittedly atrophied imagination simply cannot grasp the need for thorough statistical information on the very public that elected him into office — especially if that information paints a depressingly accurate portrait of the socioeconomic shortfalls suffered by a growing number of Americans — it can, however, conjure up a litany of falsehoods about the supposedly nefarious purpose behind the survey. And in the process, he sounds like a fear-mongering, grandstanding dullard with no business holding that office whatsoever.
That this data is used by various public and private organizations to better understand, track and serve segments of American society is moot for Duncan. But he's not alone in his crusade against these evil government bureaucrats. In fact, leading the chorus is none other than Mr. Libertarian himself, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who has routinely criticized the ACS for reasons his colleague Duncan knows too well. According to Paul:
The questions are both ludicrous and insulting. The survey asks, for instance, how many bathrooms you have in your house, how many miles you drive to work, how many days you were sick last year, and whether you have trouble getting up stairs. It goes on and on, mixing inane questions with highly detailed inquiries about your financial affairs. One can only imagine the countless malevolent ways our federal bureaucrats could use this information. At the very least the survey will be used to dole out pork, which is reason enough to oppose it.
Keep in mind the survey is not voluntary, nor is the Census Bureau asking politely. Americans are legally obligated to answer, and can be fined up to $1,000 per question if they refuse!
Malevolent ways? The Census Bureau is prohibited by law from sharing its data with other governmental punching bags, like the National Security Agency, the CIA, even the IRS. But then, libertarians (much like the super wealthy) get to pick and choose which laws they want to follow, and ignore the ones they don't like. And if those bureaucrats do squeal on you? Why, they get fined themselves, plus prison time. but who cares; these are just facts.
Paul's impassioned tirade addresses the nut of this misguided opposition by appealing to the Founding Fathers ("The founders never authorized the federal government to continuously survey the American people"), but true to fashion, his Randian ideology doesn't hold up well to reality. Despite failing to note that those esteemed dead white guys got a few things wrong in hindsight (slavery, for one), and that the size and complexity of modern American society might have been hard to envision in the 18th century, Paul and unimaginative hardliners like Duncan can't be bothered with empirical reality (nor can their party, for that matter).
But at least this is part of Paul's oeuvre. Duncan, on the other hand, couldn't pass the Liberty Purity Pledge.
Indeed, if Duncan and his ideological cohorts were really concerned about privacy invasion, they could oppose a litany of more worthwhile causes — say, the monumental governmental overreach into Internet freedoms known as CISPA (he voted for it); the National Security Agency's new multibillion dollar data collection facility in the Southwest U.S.; and laws prohibiting citizens to film police misconduct, to name a few. But since honesty can prove exhausting, the congressman and his ilk must make do with lies, half-truths and other misleading innuendos — namely that the information collected by the Census Bureau is somehow used to further the Illuminati's knowledge of John and Jane Q. Public.
Instead, Duncan files legislation to essentially privatize the entire federal government and soap-box his way into Pith's annals of dubiousness.