Help Save the Census Today
It’s the week after Independence Day. You’re doing your best to re-focus on work after the holiday break. If only it could have lasted a few days longer! I can’t bring you a few more days vacation, but I can offer this suggestion for making the holiday last just a wee bit longer: Bring some patriotic fervor to your work by reminding your colleagues and your representatives in Congress how crucial the Census is to your work.
Enshrined in our constitution (Article 1, Section 2) is a mandate to count all persons living in the United States every ten years: “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.”
You, we, all of us – no matter what your profession – need the Census. It provides essential information that supports your job, your business, your personal well-being, and your family’s well-being. It helps us understand our communities and how best to serve them. It helps businesses map and enumerate their markets so they can operate and grow profitably. It determines where roads, bridges, and hospitals are built. It makes us a better, a stronger, and a more prosperous country.
Unfortunately, the Census is in real danger. The director of the Census resigned, and there is no new leadership in place. Funding for the Census is so low that experts predict a potentially “disastrous” count in 2020 unless funding is provided quickly. Trust in the data is being eroded daily with political attacks that question “the legitimacy of federal institutions and the veracity of objective facts” (Time, May 18, 2017).
So here is what you can do. Pull out a little American flag. Plant it on your desk. Pick up your phone. Call the President, your U.S. Senators, and your Congressional representative. Urge them to:
- Replace the director of the Census quickly, and fill the slot with an eminently qualified, non-political leader. And while they’re at it, they need permanent replacements for the deputy director (the person who is second in command) and leadership at the Department of Commerce to whom Census directors report.
- Fund the Census at levels on par with previous efforts, as Republican and Democratic administrations have done in the past. The current proposed ramp-up in funding is half that of previous efforts, which has already led to cancellations of online field tests designed to modernize and make the Census more efficient.
- Protect the Census from petty political squabbling and demagogues who sow the seeds of distrust. As one former staff director of the House Census Oversight Subcommittee has said, “It is vital, it is critical, that the public has confidence in the Census. Anything that compromises that compromises the whole mission.” (Time, May 18, 2017).
Then spread the patriotic spirit by encouraging your colleagues to do the same. At Versta Research we use Census data every day in our work for you and for all our clients. I can assure you that you use it as well, even if you are unaware of how fully it affects your work.