Monday, October 19, 2015

Stand Up ~ Be Counted: Counting Counts.

Angus Deaton  
Ben Solomon for the NY Times
CrediBen Solomon for The New York TimesCrediBen Solomon for The New York Times
So I read this article in the New York Times about the Nobel winner in economics...a guy named Angus Deaton. What this guy does is to use a whole lotta data to extrapolate a whole lotta information. That's the technical explanation. The practical explanation is that the statistics Dr. Deaton collects ultimately measure standards of living and guides policy. This is not an arbitrary process. It's not something we do only if we feel like doing it. It's the law. 

The U.S. Census is actually established by the Constitution of these here United States, specifically in Article 1, Section 2:
Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the state of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse [sic] three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.
One cannot help but notice some of the racist, exclusionary language in Article 1, Section 2. If you want to read about the history of the U.S. Census, go to Wiki on the subject because I don't want to spend a lot of time here talking about the evolution of the process. What I do want to talk about is the need for the census itself. 

The Census does more than just decide how many people are sent to the House of Representatives. It tells us who we are. Questions the census asks are not specious. They tell us who has indoor plumbing and who does not...yes, folks, there are still places in this country with outhouses. It lets the government know who has electricity and who does not...and  by extension, who has access to an internet connection or cell phones and who does not. It identifies pockets of extreme poverty, food deserts, and insufficient access to education. It provides social scientists with information about where our society works and where it doesn't. In other words, it provides much more important data than where your great-grandparents lived when they arrived in these here United States. 

From The National Journal
It is in the best interest of The GOP to curtail the information-gathering. Right now, they are very good at gerrymandering, better than the Democrats, and let me tell you, both parties lack the moral high-ground on this issue. Gerrymandering is wrong. It's manipulative and it is destructive to the will of We, the People. There shouldn't be the carved-out curlicues we see instead of straight lines though the districts, designed to favor one party or another. And let me assure you, both parties are wrong here.

But gerrymandering isn't the only issue. How the government apportions money spent is:
First, decennial census data on state populations determine the number of seats in Congress each state receives and how those districts are drawn, through processes called “reapportionment” and “redistricting”. Second, the census provides the figures that determine the number of electors each state receives for presidential elections. Third, census numbers determine the allocation of hundreds of billions of federal program dollars. Fourth, federal agencies and private litigants use data on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, age, and disability to monitor compliance with civil rights laws and to determine where disparities exist and remediation is required. Finally, the private sector uses census data to make important decisions about their businesses, including investment strategies, hiring plans, and location of facilities.   The Leadership Conference: Census 2010 Education Kit
Reducing the ability of the U.S. Census to fully perform its function will further reduce the working classes to invisible status. The Census team is often the first line of information for living conditions in this nation. Reduction of their canvassing force coupled with the removal of social issue questions insures that large swaths of We, the People with lose our collective voices. The only ones who will benefit from this loss will be the burgeoning oligarchs who dismiss out-of-hand the working and living conditions of the less affluent. Programs designed to help those segments of the population will disappear because they can no longer be ascribed to sectors in need, since those sectors will become invisible.

And the Republicans are bound and determined not to allow that information to be collected. In June, THE ATLANTIC ran an excellent article: Republicans Try To Curtail The Census. If you're a member of We, the People, you should read this article because it speaks directly to you as a citizen. The curtailment of the Census has far-reaching ramifications that go beyond the internet and indoor plumbing. 

Someone should tell the farmers of the south and west, those stalwart supporters of Libertarian ideals, that getting rid of the census is going to directly impact their crop supports and probably their access to federal grazing land. Tell the Cuban immigrant population of Florida who throw their considerable weight behind Jeb! that a reduced census is going to impact their schools and their access to special services for Spanish-speakers. Tell those fine outdoors-men in Idaho that curtailing the census will reduce the federal supports for utilities and, amazingly enough, internet access and the availability of social media.

Penny-wise, pound foolish, as my British Grandmother used to say. The GOP morons who want to cut back the census are really looking for ways to keep We, the People from freedom of speech and the right to vote. Curtailing the census is one way of keeping democracy at bay....and out of our hands. 

The GOP is working very hard behind the scenes to make sure YOU don't get a voice in government. We are less than five years away from the 2020 census. YOU have a choice. You can throw your hands up in exasperation.....or you can start shouting now. 

The U.S. Census is critical to our survival as We, the People of the United States. Don't let anyone take that away from us. Not the Republicans and not the Democrats. The United States of America may be far from perfect, but name another place you'd rather live right now. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Know anyone turning ONE this week?
Anything with buttons to press can be the perfect gift.

1 comment:

  1. She may be really adorable, but she won't count as a "person" until 2020.