The accuracy of the data the U.S. Census Bureau obtains is fundamental for governments and the private sector. This information helps to allocate $400 billion in federal funds annually, according to the needs of the various communities. Companies use the information for planning and decision-making.
The American Community Survey (ACS) is the source of detailed information, with data collected every year from 3 million U.S. homes selected at random. This valuable study is about to be eliminated in the name of “liberty” and being unconstitutional.
The expense allocation the House of Representatives recently approved passed the bill introduced by Congressman Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) to eliminate the ACS. The lawmaker said the proposal would save money and that the survey was an invasion of privacy. He added: “What really promotes business in this country is liberty, not demand for information,” and questioned the scientific value of a “random” survey.
Where do we start?
Scientists say that exactly because it is done at random, this type of survey is scientific. The country’s largest business organizations believe in the need for information. And it’s hard to say that the Founding Fathers were against collecting information only because they wrote in the Constitution that the counting would be conducted every 10 years.
On the other hand, the questionnaire is long, takes 38 minutes to complete according to the Census Bureau, and the questions are detailed, like the long form of the decennial Census used to be. There are questions that seem trite, such as the home’s plumbing. However, this information helps the Housing Department’s assistance programs and allows sanitary authorities to monitor underground water, as well as being useful for the Agriculture Department and social services for senior citizens.
Finally, needless to say, this information in practice is worth much more than the almost $250 million per year the survey costs, and this number will not make a dent on the federal deficit.
We hope the Senate defends de ACS and prevents it from becoming optional, which would weaken it if providing so much information isn’t mandatory. Otherwise, its scientific value would be lost and it would end up costing more.
This attack on the Census Bureau’s annual survey results from a lack of knowledge and praises ignorance.