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Federal Government randomly selects Tea Party blogger for a survey; will fine $5000 for refusing

I wonder how –random– this selection was…

From Wrap Your Head Around:

Up until last week, the US Census Bureau had been calling my house almost every day for a month, which I found odd because the census was taken last year. My husband spoke with them one day, but he didn’t really give me the details of the conversation. After speaking with them, they continued to call daily—sometimes more than once a day—and I ignored the call because he’d already spoken with them. A week ago, however, my husband wasn’t home, and I finally decided to take the call and see what was up.

To make a long story short, the lady informed me that the call was regarding a survey to get information about how to best serve communities with state and federal grant money. I was informed that if we did not take the survey, Federal employees would be visiting our home to get the information. I told her that I didn’t understand—if we said no to the phone survey, why would we be getting a visit? From that point on, the exchange went something like this:

Caller: “Because they need to get the information.”

Me: “So, I have to do this?”

Caller: “Basically, yeah, by law you have to do this. It’s in the Constitution.”

Me: “It’s in the Constitution?”

Caller: “Well, the Census is part of the Constitution.”

Me: “Well, I can tell you how many people are in my home if that’s what you need to know.”

Caller: “It’s not that kind of information. We need to know things like how many people in your home have health insurance and what kind.”

Me: “That’s in the Constitution?”

Caller: “Well, no, because they didn’t have health insurance back then.”

Me: “Exactly. So then why do I have to do this?”

Caller: “This is mandated. If you don’t do it, I don’t think you’ll go to jail or anything, but you will be fined.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I still don’t understand”

Caller: I assume that your husband is probably like my husband and that’s why he didn’t fill out the survey. My husband feels that the government already knows too much about our business, and now it’s wanting to know more. It’s not like you were personally chosen. It’s just the address that was chosen. I understand you not wanting to fill out the survey without first talking to your husband. I’ll remove your number from the calling list, but someone will be visiting your home within the next six weeks. Thank you, goodbye.”

Umm. Okay, at this point I was a little bit in shock and a little scared. So, we filled out the 2010 Census survey, but now I have to fill out another one with a bunch of personal information to see how the government can best serve my community with money, and if I decide not to disclose this information, the government will take my money? And I have no say in the matter? What kind of a “free” country are we living in here?

Upon visiting the Census Bureau website, I have since learned that this survey is called The American Communities Survey, and yes I have to complete it. Prior to 1976, refusing to complete the survey would have landed me up to 60 days in JAIL. Some of the questions are just general questions, but some of them get VERY personal. You can see all the questions here, but I’ll provide a few examples.

What kind of heath insurance coverage do you have?
Do you have difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions?
Do you have difficulty dressing or bathing?
How many times have you been married?
In what year did you last get married?
Have you given birth to any children in the last 12 months?
What time did you usually leave home to go to work last week?
Last week, were you temporarily absent from a job or business?

These are just a few in a long list of questions. Another part of the survey asks you very detailed information about your home: room sizes, land lines, etc.

In addition to invading my privacy, I’ve also found on the website that my fine might be up to $5000!!!!

Yes. Respondents are required to answer all questions on the American Community Survey (ACS) to the best of their ability…anyone over 18 years old who refuses or willfully neglects to complete the questionnaire or answer questions posed by census takers from a fine of “not more than $100″ to “not more than $5,000.”

This is a high degree of government intrusion in privacy that falls just short of unlawfully searching my home. And, regardless of what the nice lady said on the phone, this is NOT constitutional.

The American people need to let our government—those men and women elected by us who work for us—that this is ridiculous and needs to stop. We’ll be writing a series of posts on this over the next several days, but in the meantime, we encourage all our readers to do their own homework and contact your legislators urging them to write legislation that will change this. Perhaps you were not selected this year and perhaps you’ve never even hear of this survey, but there is a very real possibility that you could be next.


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