Letter Re: The Circular File

Hi Hugh,

I saw your response to the Circular File article where you mentioned you had received a request from the Census Bureau. I’m assuming you’re referring to the “American Community Survey”. I went through that colossal waste of taxpayer funds last year and thought I’d share my story.

First it started with letters in the mail. Then the letters became “urgent”, with veiled threats of fines.

When it really started getting ridiculous was when the local census worker came to my home. The first time she left a handwritten note. Then she showed up with the documents in hand asking me to complete them on the spot.

I always remained polite and simply told her I wasn’t interested in completing her survey. When she would try to ask again, I simply said, “No, thank you.” When she would ask me questions like “What is it about the survey that you aren’t comfortable with?” I would simply respond with “No, thank you” or “I’m not interested”.

The breakdown in communication occurred one night while I was at my local Walmart. I was putting a few items in my cart when my phone rang. The number wasn’t one I recognized, but since I was unemployed at the time and accustomed to getting calls from recruiters, I answered it. The voice on the other end asked if she was speaking to Mr. E.B., and I acknowledged that it was indeed me. The caller then identified herself as the Census Bureau employee.

I got angry at that point and interrupted her. I repeated that I wasn’t interested in completing her survey. She responded with “I’m trying to figure out why you won’t complete the survey”. To this I replied with “I’m trying to figure out how you got my personal, unpublished cell phone number and decided it would be a good idea to call me”. I hung up and have never heard from her since.

I encourage everyone I know to push back on intrusive government, whenever possible. The only way they will get the message is if enough of us just say “NO” to their tactics. – E.B.

HJL Responds: That would be the one. It is bad enough that they ask those questions, but when you refuse to answer, they make up “legally punishing” threats to try and force you. That really inspires confidence and lets you know that they have your best interests at heart.