National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition called out Brooklyn hipsters recently with a segment on low Census form return rates. Apparently, the hipster hub of Williamsburg has one of the lowest return rates in the nation, with about 30 percent of residents turning in their forms. New York City is at just under half, while the nation as a whole is at about two-thirds completion.
Reasons the hipsters gave for not completing their forms: laziness, unawareness and general distrust for the U.S. government. Yeah, that sounds right.
Look, hipsters, you can’t act uneducated and too cool for the collective unconscious and expect people to take you seriously when you make pseudo-intellectual comments about the big, bad government. One hipster in this radio segment, Jamie Lilly, said (sort of eloquently, in a stoner’s cadence), “You know, on a personal note, maybe some people, they figure what’s the point to be counted if you don’t count for much anyway? If we don’t count, why be counted?”
A hipster reading a picture book,
courtesy of LATFH.com
Not a bad point, but this doesn’t change the fact that most hipsters have daddy issues and low self-esteem, which leads them to act aggressively passive aggressive toward anyone perceived as an authority figure. The result is people who don’t understand the census end up projecting negative feelings onto it. This is no reason to neglect your civic duty and assure that your community will be under-represented and, hence, underfunded in the future. Regardless of what Lilly believes, she counts as a unit of measurement for accurate districting, even if she doesn’t count for much else. And for that reason, people who utilize schools, libraries, police, firefighters and other public services in her district are counting on her to stand up and be counted. So return your census form already!
But before we completely dismiss anti-census sentiment, let’s take a quick look at the 10 questions on this year’s form. By the way, it’s the 23rd census ever conducted in the U.S. and it’s a practice that has occurred every 10 years since the Founding Fathers wrote it into the constitution in 1790. Here are the 2010 questions….
1) How many people were living in or staying at the house on April 1, 2010?
2) Were there any additional people staying at the house on April 1 not included in question 1?
3) Is the house owned or rented by residents?
So the first three questions are pretty innocuous. Nothing to fear there. But then…
4) What’s your phone number?
5) What’s your first and last name?
6) What’s your sex?
7) Age and date of birth?
If I’m a chick and some greasy census worker with bad posture and worse teeth asks me for my number, I’m soooo calling the awkward-police. And why do you need my full name? And can’t you tell by looking that I’m a chick? Is this a half-baked attempt to get a peak at the ‘gina or something? Okay, they claim that the phone # is so they can call back if one of your answers is unclear, be it for handwriting reasons or otherwise. Reasonable? They want a name so there aren’t multiple people at the same household filling out forms. And the sex? Well, who knows. Same goes for date of birth: Doesn’t seem necessary but doesn’t seem threatening either.
8) Are you Hispanic or Latino?
9) What is your race?
Actually… I’m Chicano, pendejo! And why is Pacific Islander considered its own “race” on question 9 but Latinos aren’t? Why are Latinos singled out in question 8 instead? “Pacific Islander” is as much a geography-based category as “Latin American,” so why the separate category? Makes me feel icky.
10) Do you sometimes live or stay elsewhere?
Well, there was that one time I woke up hungover on Paul’s kitchen floor and I had a penis with hairy scrotum sack drawn on my forehead. But that was my bad—I passed out with my shoes on.
Okay, so we really don’t see much to get up in arms about. They don’t ask for your SSN or bank account numbers or anything like that. Plus, the census folks are legally obligated to keep your personal info private. We encourage a little healthy paranoia, but when it comes to the census, the paranoia seems pretty unfounded. Read more about the 2010 census here.