What is the census and why is it important? There are a few reasons why it’s important but let’s start with the first question. According to U.S. census website, www.census.gov the U.S Constitution empowers the Congress to carry out the census. The Founders of our fledgling nation had a bold and ambitious plan to empower the people over their new government. The plan was to count every person living in the newly created United States of America, and to use that count to determine representation in the Congress. Having looked this up and verifying what the census is used for I have a much better understanding of what it is than when I was a kid and my neighbor across the street told me it was a way for the government to keep an eye on us and get all of our information. I’m sorry, have you been to Google lately? Trust me, anyone can find anything about you on the internet; the government does not need to pay thousands of people to trod all over the country to collect your information in person.
Enshrining this invention in our Constitution marked a turning point in world history. Previously, censuses in other countries had been used primarily to tax or confiscate property or to conscript youth into military service. The genius of the Founders was taking a tool of government and making it a tool of political empowerment for the governed over their government. They accomplished that goal in 1790 and our country has had a census every 10 years since then.
Now we know what it is. Why is it important? According to Wikipedia, as stated above one purpose of the census is to divide seats in the U.S. House of Representatives by population. Furthermore, as with any Census Bureau survey, the data provides a beginning for allocation of resources. In addition, collected data are used in aggregate for statistical purposes. So, we know initially it is to decide how many representatives in Congress each state is given. Also, stats, stats and more stats! Stats are EVERYWHERE! However, it’s that middle part that talks about, “allocation of resources,” that is SO important. You know that old country road that feels like you are driving over life size Lincoln logs because of all the potholes? Or the elementary school that needs a new roof? Has your little one stoplight town grown into a small city and the medical clinic is not cutting it anymore? It might be time to build a hospital! The census tells us where we are going as a country and helps communities determine if they need to build more homes, schools and supermarkets. It also helps the government decide how to distribute funds and assistance to states and localities or as I said before……. ”allocation of resources.”
The census is used as a way for the federal government to help grow communities, allocation of resources and decide how many representatives are in Congress, not gather your secret information and turn over to “Big brother.” The 2020 census is well underway and this year the first “enumeration” (Also did not know that word till looking up census information) started in Toksook Bay, Alaska!