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Government Privacy United States Your Rights Online

Will Your Answers To the Census Stay Private? 902

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the depends-how-you-define-private dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "James Bovard writes in the Christian Science Monitor that Americans are told that information gathered in the census will never be used against them and the House of Representatives, in a Census Awareness Month resolution passed March 3, proclaimed that 'the data obtained from the census are protected under United States privacy laws.' Unfortunately, thousands of Americans who trusted the Census Bureau in the past lost their freedom as a result. In the 1940 Census, the Census Bureau loudly assured people that their responses would be kept confidential. Within four days of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Census Bureau had produced a report listing the Japanese-American population in each county on the West Coast. The Census Bureau's report helped the US Army round up more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans for concentration camps (later renamed 'internment centers'). In 2003-04, the Census Bureau provided the Department of Homeland Security with a massive cache of information on how many Arab Americans lived in each ZIP Code around the nation, and which country they originated from — information that could have made it far easier to carry out the type of mass roundup that some conservatives advocated. 'Instead of viewing census critics as conspiracy theorists, the nation's political leaders should recognize how their policies have undermined public faith in government,' writes Bovard. 'All the census really needs to know is how many people live at each address. Citizens should refuse to answer any census question except for the number of residents.'"
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Will Your Answers To the Census Stay Private?

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  • by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @10:50AM (#31610618) Homepage

    I no longer expect any privacy from my government. I want it, and I think it's fucked up that I don't have it...but I no longer expect it.

    What the hell has happend to us as a country? Has it always been this fucked and we just have the means to know about it now? Or were things truly better back int he day?

  • Private or "bad"? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 25, 2010 @10:55AM (#31610692)
    Hold on. There are two different things here: whether the data will be kept private, and whether the data will ever be used to do "bad" things.

    The headline brings up the question of whether privacy will be breached: i.e. whether the census data could ever be de-anonymized and used to identify specific people's answers. This would be a very bad thing, contrary to the ethos of the census.

    However, the examples actually given in the summary are cases where the census was just doing what a census does: delivering anonymized demographic data. Specifying how many people of a particular race (or gender, or income level, etc.) live in a particular area is just data. That data can of course be used for either good (addressing social inequality, correctly distributing resources, etc.) or for evil (internment camps). But the fact that data can be used for evil is nothing new. The solution is not to distrust the census, but rather to stop the people who are promoting hateful options and politicians pushing for evil legislation.

    I'm not saying that we have to trust the census people, necessarily. If the data is continually doing more harm than good, then we should oppose its collection. But I don't think that you can point to a few examples of data being used in evil ways (or potentially evil ways) and therefore conclude that the entire enterprise of data collection is suspect.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @10:55AM (#31610694) Journal

    Human is a race. Write that in.

  • Re:first post? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaHat (247651) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @10:55AM (#31610698) Homepage

    1x American here

  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 25, 2010 @10:55AM (#31610714)

    What bullshit. The privacy protections regarding census answers were put in place AFTER the Japanese internment camps as a RESPONSE. This summary reads as is those protections were disregarded in that roundup, and then darkly speculates on what could have been after 9/11, if those privacy protections had been disregarded.

    Slashdot isn't far from freerepublic these days, in political leaning or critical thinking.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @10:57AM (#31610732) Journal

    Perhaps in 1790 that's all the census needed to know (that and how may slaves you owned), but it's a far different situation now.

    Then amend the constitution to empower the government to collect more than an enumeration.

  • Ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DIplomatic (1759914) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @10:57AM (#31610748) Journal
    Refusing to fill out the Census is ridiculous. It is in your own best interest to let the local and national govt. know as much about the people they represent as possible. If they don't know facts about, say, the social and financial background of their constituents, how can they govern effectively?

    To give a hypothetical example, it would be like if you were a neilsen family but refused to fill out info about the tv shows that you liked and then complained when they got canceled.

  • Obligatory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3@gmail . c om> on Thursday March 25, 2010 @10:58AM (#31610758)
    Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.
    -Ayn Rand

    What does this say about America? Read this [huffingtonpost.com] for a good overview of technology's intertwined relationship with the failings of geopolitical advancement of privacy. Basic summary: it isn't technologies fault for privacy lost, its the people who regulate it.

    To quote:
    "The attacks of 9-11 challenged our country in new ways. But perhaps the biggest challenge was whether we would safeguard both our country and our Constitutional heritage or whether we would have weak leaders who were unable to protect the country without sacrificing our freedoms. Regrettably, we found that our political leaders lacked the ability to uphold our laws. For electronic surveillance, they pushed aside the judiciary and asserted the President's authority to intercept the private communications of American citizens within the United States. Even with the broad powers of the Patriot Act, the White House grew impatient and colluded with the telephone companies to disclose private customer records without legal basis or judicial review."
  • by Enry (630) <{ten.agyaw} {ta} {yrne}> on Thursday March 25, 2010 @10:59AM (#31610782) Journal

    Human is a species.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:00AM (#31610800)

    "Conservatives" wanted to round up arabs? Do you have a single shred of proof for this or are you basically a Truther or Birther at heart, with nothing but paranoia to offer us?

    No-one wanted to "round up arabs" since that would have been stupid and done nothing.

  • Re:I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:01AM (#31610818) Homepage Journal

    Same here. But he said not to answer the race question because liberals value minority lives over white lives.

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:04AM (#31610868) Homepage
    It is true that during WWII, the US government abused Census information to detain Japanese.

    But the thing about America is that we FIX problems when we realize that we made a mistake.

    After World War II, American realized what a horrible thing we did with the Census and we changed the laws.

    Now, it is illegal for information from the Census to be given to any other government agency. Specifically:

    Immigration is NOT allowed to get the information.

    The Internal Revenue Service is NOT allowed to get the information.

    FBI and local cops are NOT allowed to get the information.

    I myself am always a bit paranoid about giving out information, but the promisses the US government has given are about as extreme as it is possible to get. It is true that governments can ignore their own laws. But if you won't trust the US government after it wewnt that far to fix the problem you are worried about, then you should leave this country.

    Because if you are concerned about them rounding you up in the future after they change the laws, then you should be more concerned about them rounding you up TODAY for failing to obey the existing laws

  • ...and it did. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:04AM (#31610874)

    So if 1940 is the only case of census information being used to locate individuals, I'd say their record is pretty good.

    1940 is a case where census information was used to round up an entire ethnic population and relocate them and strip them of all belongings despite assurances that census information would remain "private", which I'd say pretty much destroys any credibility of such assurances forever.

    Of all the people counted by the Census over the last century (not including re-counts of same people), that's a pretty intolerable percentage of lives wrecked by abuse of Census data over the last century.

    "Stroke of a pen, law of the land. Pretty cool."
    "Power corrupts, absolute power is kind of neat."
    - people who actually had such power.

  • by Kral_Blbec (1201285) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:05AM (#31610886)
    No it doesnt. An application for your local grocery customer loyalty program usually asks more questions. Even the registration form for most home appliances asks for more.
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:06AM (#31610904)
    I understand privacy concerns, but I also understand the valuable ways this information is used. Things like trying to figure out the best place to locate infrastructure like schools and VA hospitals. I remember this "debate" from 10 years ago. Now, while you're passively rebelling against your evil government think about what answers you choose to omit from the census and how easily available that info already is.
  • by Petersko (564140) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:07AM (#31610908)
    "The data, from the 2000 census, had already been made public on the agency's Internet site...But the Census Bureau director acknowledged at the meeting that by tabulating and handing over the data...the agency had undermined public trust..."

    So let me get this straight. The data was publicly available, and the Bureau was getting in heat for... sorting it?

    A six year old story about an eight year old NOTHING.

    I routinely waste five minutes of time, but this block I particularly regret.
  • Race as American (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:07AM (#31610910)
    Not answering the race question is likely to lead to a visit by census staff and your refusal to play their game will come to naught. You'll be marked in their records as a troublemaker and your race determined by a census worker. There's a lot of pressure on them to generate the required data. A much simpler approach is to check your race as Other and in the blank fill in "American." It's true, and it foils attempts to label us racially for whatever the purpose. Keep in mind that this census is, contrary to what the Constitution specifies, very much about race. About six months ago a census worker visited my apartment wanting to know if any Native Americans lived there. He was a nice, elderly gentleman who didn't have any political agendas himself. But it was clear that, if that were true, my living circumstances would have been singled out for special examination.
  • Genealogy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by turb (5673) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:07AM (#31610912) Homepage

    Census data is akin to medical records. You want your person information to remain confidential generally speaking but aggregated together, it's not hard to argue that such data could be used to benefit research and therefore benefit mankind. However confidentiality to one's family is probably less important. For example if your family has a history of heart conditions, you'd rather like to know that, even if Grandpa so and so never told you.

    Having access to census data when trying to even research your family tree is critical. While genealogy isn't as much of a benefit to mankind as medicine, it at least means something to me at a personal level. I'm very very glad that old census records are available.

    I completely agree that census data just like medical records is open to abuse. Profiling of any race is just plain wrong and the government should never have allowed that and those that did it should have been caught and prosecuted.

  • by someones1 (1580023) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:08AM (#31610934)
    As an urban planner, I can say in all honesty that eliminating things like race from the census would be devastating to research processes. There is a lot of super valuable information in the census data when it comes to identifying trends and demographics, and types of services required for certain types of residents, etc. It is terrible that personally identifiable census data has been used in the past to round people up, or create "watch" lists of sorts, but understand that many many other groups and agencies use non-personally identifiable information gained from the census forms to actually do some good for communities. A ridiculous amount of stuff that urban planners do in GIS is with census data, and without it, or with significant amounts of errors, it becomes useless and entirely possible that planning decisions will be made with bad information.
  • by Itninja (937614) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:08AM (#31610938) Homepage

    Has it always been this fucked and we just have the means to know about it now? Or were things truly better back int he day?

    Yes. Yes it has. As have all countries, everywhere, since the dawn of man. The only real difference now is information flows faster than ever before in history. So the general populace is aware of all the f'ed up stuff much, much faster. In the past it could take months, if not years or even decades, for this information to reach the ears of the people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:09AM (#31610952)

    Time and effort to check a prepopulated standardised database? Minimal.

    Time and effort required to connect dozens of different databases and write programs capable of compiling information from web searches? More than a government can manage.

    If data is readily available, it will be used and abused, no matter what anybody says.

  • by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:10AM (#31610958) Homepage Journal

    I agree. I think we actually had more privacy in the past only from a practical point of view. Before computers, and back when the government couldn't afford massive buildings full of employees, it was simply impossible or impractical to gather much data to be used against us. Today you can have one guy in the CIA decide to gather/analyze data and have thousands of people immediately help.

    So I think privacy rules have gotten stronger, but technology and government size have made privacy weaker.

  • Re:first post? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheLink (130905) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:11AM (#31610978) Journal

    I think the submitter is worrying about the wrong thing.

    The answers could have remained private (as in remained within the Government), but the Japanese-Americans still rounded up.

    It's not great comfort when the general public, criminals and Corporations don't have access to your census info, but the Government still kicks in your door at 3am and bundles you away just because you happened to have filled in the "race" field with the "wrong race of the day".

    Race: Pikes Peak Hill Climb :).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exdUD02JryI [youtube.com]

  • by LBDobbs (555102) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:12AM (#31611002) Homepage
    The US government is more careful about "privacy" now than it has ever been. It is the American culture that has radically changed. Withholding information from the government is a relatively new phenomenon in the US. The "right of privacy" was established by the Warren Court (one of the many very bad decisions that court made). And the American People have demanded more and more of it. Keeping some information private from corporations (like insurance companies) is self defense, but the government is really not the enemy.
  • "Protected by law" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by J'raxis (248192) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:15AM (#31611058) Homepage

    And remember this when they say the information is "protected by law": Laws can be changed. (Yeah, I know that sounds obvious, but how many foolish people are assuaged by being told "don't worry, your privacy is protected by law.") They're just words on paper, the government changes them all the time, and most of the time it just breaks them without even bothering to change them.

    Want to protect your privacy? Don't share information. Once it's out there, it's out there.

  • by wcrowe (94389) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:17AM (#31611070)

    In the instructions with the census form it says that the information on the form cannot be used in a court of law. However, at the same time it says that completing the form is required by law.

    So the obvious question is, if the form cannot be used as evidence, how can they prove that I did not complete it?

    Either the law is not enforceable, or they are lying when they say it cannot be used as evidence.

  • Not this again... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [retawriaf]> on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:21AM (#31611144) Homepage

    This is the third census I've participated in as an adult, and the fourth for which I was old enough to pay attention to the media/hype around it. And in each and every one, wingnuts from all over the political spectrum have crawled out from under their respective rocks and foamed at the mouth over the government intrusion into private lives.

    Give it rest guys. Your claims don't stand up to a moments dispassionate scrutiny. The interment camps were nearly seventy years ago. We've learned since then.

  • by fermion (181285) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:22AM (#31611150) Homepage Journal
    This may be funny, but how much did guns help the kids who were murdered, by which side is up for debate, at the so-called Branch Davidian at Waco. As much as the NRA wants us to believe they are protectors of the seconds amendment, they are really just maintaining the right for overgrown kids to keep their toys. They have caved in on the right of the average American to keep any kind of real defense.

    In fact checking the gun box would merely tell the government who to take out first in the event that, according to right wing mythology, FEMA and the president were to declare martian law [tv.com].

    To be serious, and I am no defender of US atrocities, the two cases cited hardly indicate a trend. The first happened in a genuine time of war, and in this case people do go crazy. In the second case, it does not seem that any personal information was released, so while violating the spirit of the promise, it is hard to say if it violated the actual intention. When we talk about releasing personal information, at least in todays terms, we are probably taking about specifics on undocumented people in the US or same sex couples living together, or the like. I can go to the census web site and get a demographic profile of each region if I so wanted, so that is pretty much public information.

  • Re:...and it did. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by LordKazan (558383) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:22AM (#31611176) Homepage Journal

    wow.. that's one dumb thing "because it was misused once, 70 years ago - and since then we've passed a lot more laws to protect against it. We've also recognized our folly in doing that in the first place - it is not trust worthy today".

    admit it - you're only acting like this because your team doesn't control the government.

    for fuck sake, people are stupid.

    Go piss your pants on someone else's couch, uncle sam is tired of cleaning up after you.

  • Re:Ridiculous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:23AM (#31611182) Homepage

    Refusing to fill out the Census is ridiculous.

    The quote in the slashdot summary doesn't advocate refusing to fill it out. It advocates not filling anything out other than the number of residents, which is all that's needed in order to determine congressional districts, etc.

    If they don't know facts about, say, the social and financial background of their constituents, how can they govern effectively?

    The slashdot summary is about the use of racial information. The government doesn't need to know what race I consider myself to be in order to govern effectively.

    To give a hypothetical example, it would be like if you were a neilsen family but refused to fill out info about the tv shows that you liked and then complained when they got canceled.

    No, a correct analogy would be if you volunteered to participate int he Neilsen ratings, filled out the information about the TV shows you watched, but refused to give Neilsen any information about your race.

  • by eples (239989) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:25AM (#31611236)
    Explain to me how your hide your race during day-to-day activities. You consider your race private? Do you wear a blanket over your head all day?
  • Re:I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:26AM (#31611264) Journal

    Honestly, I can't see any other reason for collection of this data. The government should be 100% color blind. Why collect race data unless you plan to give one race(doesn't matter which) preferential treatment? If you don't plan on providing differential services based on race, why would you care what my race is?

    Someone explain this to me. Please.

  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:28AM (#31611306)

    What the hell has happend to us as a country? Has it always been this fucked and we just have the means to know about it now? Or were things truly better back int he day?

    There is no explicit Constitutional right to privacy; it's one of the rights that the courts have found to be implied, and that fairly recently. Conversely, the census was placed in the Constitution by the founding fathers.

    They were much, much worse back in the day, actually. The FBI originated to suppress peaceful political activity. Women used to be chattel, we had slaves, corporations had private armies that could kill striking union members with impunity, young children were forced to work twelve-hour shifts in factories and mines, American Indians were slaughtered by roving army units and bands of vigilantes, mob lynchings were commonplace, college was available only to the very rich, antibiotics and blood transfusion hadn't been invented yet, and so on. Heck, at the outset, only white male landowners could vote.

    The idea that things are getting worse seems to be promulgated by people whose knowledge of history stretches back no more than a week or two. Aside from the current recession, things are better now in almost every respect than they have ever been.

  • by centauratlas (760571) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:32AM (#31611400)

    Useful to whom? The racists who care about skin color in Washington?

    Skin color is about as much use as eye color or hair color, except to racists.

    So much for Martin Luther King's wanting to be judged on the content of the character instead of the color of your skin.

  • by LordKazan (558383) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:35AM (#31611454) Homepage Journal

    Medical researchers who would like to know the demographics of an area and how they affect various health issues
    Demographers who research race/ethnicity and a whole host of things

    i could go on, but you've clearly got an axe to grind.

    Keep tilting at windmills.

  • Re:Obligatory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by brkello (642429) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:36AM (#31611482)
    Just because Ayn Rand says something, doesn't make it true. I could say "Civilization is the progress toward a society of openness. The savage's whole existence is private, ruled by its darkest thoughts and back room deals. Civilization is the process of bringing things in to the open so that man can not subject men to tyranny."

    When you have a country/world willing to post all their info online, there is no problem with privacy because no one cares any more. There are plenty of good reasons to want privacy...but you aren't going to be convincing anyone quoting Ayn Rand.
  • Re:I agree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by characterZer0 (138196) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:39AM (#31611516)

    Same here. But he said not to answer the race question because liberals value minority lives over white lives.

    Politicians value those who vote for them over those who do not.

    Liberal politicians value liberal voters over conservative voters.

    Statistically, minorities are more likely to be liberal and whites more likely to be conservative.

    Liberal politicians value minorities over whites.

    Do you really think the politicians care if those who do not vote for them are alive or not?

  • Re:I agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:39AM (#31611520) Homepage Journal

    The original reason to collect race information was the 3/5ths clause of the Constitution. Amazing and sad that we still haven't gotten entirely past that.

    -Peter

  • Re:I agree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by characterZer0 (138196) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:40AM (#31611536)

    You really think the banks don't already have that information?

  • by characterZer0 (138196) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:42AM (#31611574)

    What the hell has happend to us as a country?

    The voters voted for lying, deceiving, power-hungry, corrupt crooks.

  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:43AM (#31611602)

    Then they can do their own damned study and spend their own money to do it rather than piggyback on a Federally mandated study.

  • by leonardluen (211265) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:48AM (#31611690)

    Then they can do their own damned study and spend their own money to do it rather than piggyback on a Federally mandated study.

    umm...i thought techies hated re-inventing the wheel?

  • by schwanerhill (135840) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:50AM (#31611744)

    I don't care how many times pundits from the Census Bureau muck it up with our lord Jon and savior Steven they aren't going to convince me to answer 10 questions on a census. There is only one question I will answer on that stupid form, and if that lumps me in with the "evil" conservatives, so be it.

    Have you actually read the 10 questions [census.gov]?

    Questions 1, 2, 5, and 10 are all simply checks to make sure that the respondent really did, indeed, list all residents of the household (which isn't straightforward in all cases -- think roommates at college, for example).

    Questions 6, 7, and 9 have all been asked since either 1790 or 1800 and are basic profiling questions. Don't like it? Complain to the almighty Founding Fathers. Question 8 (are you Hispanic) is necessary to make question 7 (race) make sense in a modern world.

    Question 3 (your phone number) is to allow easy follow-up; if you don't include it, I don't think the bureau will care unless there's something they can't understand with your report (illegible handwriting, most likely), in which case they'll have to knock on your door to fix it (which costs far, far more of your tax dollars than a phone call).

    Question 4, which has been asked since 1890, is the only one that I agree isn't really necessary.

    The ten minutes the Census Bureau says this form will take is a gross exaggeration. Two is more like it -- far more than it took me to write this response or you to complain about it.

  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @12:01PM (#31611964)

    The US Census is for and should only be used for Congressional seats (congressional apportionment), electoral votes, and government program funding

  • Re:I agree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mashdar (876825) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @12:11PM (#31612178)

    The hang up is the sort of race-based round-ups which have occurred in the past, and which some advocate today. The CDC can easily obtain general area-related racial statistics without involving the census. The purpose of the census is purely to record population. And sickle cell is not a contagious disease, so it hardly needs "controlling". I cannot think of a reasonably high profile (eg actually worrisome) contagious disease which is strongly race-influenced in its effects or infection rate.

  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @12:14PM (#31612234)

    Says who? The US Constitution thats who says what the US Census is for.

    Article 1, Section 2: "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."

    You want more data collected and used in different ways? Change the Constitution.

  • Re:I agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @12:21PM (#31612384) Homepage Journal
    "Black unemployment is roughly double that of white unemployment. If you're a black male between 18 and 25, there's a 1 in 9 chance you are currently in jail. The rate for whites is much lower. "

    I hardly think that the reason behind this is due to "the man" keeping them down.

    I think this largely has to do with the culture black are generally raised in vs those of whites. You don't see as many whites glorifying the hip hop gangsta culture, that makes being a thug, wearing bling, dealing drugs and violence as much as you do with young blacks.

    I was sad to hear awhile back, an anecdote about a young black male in school, who was trying to work and study and get a good education...and his black peers made fun of him and actually accused him of trying to 'act white'?!?! WTF?

    I've heard some speeches by the likes of Bill Cosby, who I hold in pretty high accord...and I think often his message to the black community that they need to deal with their problems, and quit holding onto the "I am a victim" idiom.

    Sure, there are still a number of people out there that will discriminate based on color, sex..etc. That's never going to go away 100%. However, from what I've observed over the years, most people out there that are trying to succeed, don't actually have time to go out of their way to keep another race down...they're too busy trying to get educated, work hard to get good jobs and provide for themselves and their family.

  • by pseudofrog (570061) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @12:24PM (#31612452)
    You are aware that in this nation one race held another as slaves until the 1860s? And then continued to systematically exploit the same race?

    That's two life-times ago. The Stephen-Colbert-color-blindness is cute, but utterly ignorant.

    The Black Belt needs help. The slums of the inner-city need help. Some white areas (Appalachia in particular) need help. And at the end of the day, it's a national security issue.
  • by LordKazan (558383) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @12:29PM (#31612520) Homepage Journal

    The Constitution doesn't work that way. It doesn't prohibit them asking for more information, and other clauses imply that so long as it isn't prohibited expressly or implicitly then there is no problem as long as it serves a legitimate government purpose.

    being able to anticipate how diseases might affect the population certainly falls under a legitimate government purpose.

    Just because the American Libertarian Party tells you incorrect information about the constitution doesn't make that information correct.

  • by Toze (1668155) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @12:32PM (#31612578)
    Ann Coulter also advocated that Muslims ride flying carpets instead of airplanes. There's a pretty strong current of entertainment in her work- unless you suggest we take, say, Huffpo as accurately representative of the left? I'm not really up on my American Political Media Figures or I'd offer someone in particular, sorry.
  • Re:first post? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by coolsnowmen (695297) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @12:33PM (#31612594)

    I think you don't really understand MLK's version of civil disobedience.

    He would have not filled out anything he didn't believe he should, and take the consequences. He wouldn't just be an asshole w/in the rules in an effort to not get caught. In your way, no one notices, so no one cares, so you don't even make strides to make a difference.

    My Race: "(o) OTHER: 1/4 Polish 3/4 Italian

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @12:34PM (#31612608)

    Even if you were not a child, you look back to the past with some blinders and 20/20 hindsight.

    First you have blinders where lot of your daily worries are cleared from your memory and the emotion attached from it is gone. Do I feel Stress about that project I did 10 years ago. No I go back and laugh at it. That and if I go to analyze problems in the past I can go back with much more advanced thought process then I had at the time, As I know how it will end. During the beginning of the Iraq war, Most americans believed that they were WMD even during the Clinton Administration we thought that. Now with our 20/20 we can see how flawed our thought process was. Where Iraq kept the WMD as an ambiguous issue just so it can poster itself from countries that border them that are not so friendly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 25, 2010 @12:35PM (#31612638)

    There is no explicit Constitutional right to privacy

    Our rights aren't enumerated; the government's powers are. (Well they were...but we don't seem to care much about that anymore.)
    So we have a right to privacy, because Congress has no Constitutional power to abridge it.

  • by sean.peters (568334) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @12:36PM (#31612652) Homepage

    Per Article 1, Section 2: "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."

    In other words, the government already has the power to ask what they want to ask in the Census. You people who want the Constitution to spell out in detail every activity the government might need to do crack me up. The Constitution is supposed to be an overall guide for running the government, not a detailed "here's how you do this" manual. If that was the case, nothing would ever get done because of the difficulty of passing amendments. Just as an example: the constitution only says that Congress shall "raise an Army". It doesn't say how big the Army should be, what can be done with the Army, how it can be equipped/armed, etc, etc. All that is (quite properly) left up to actual legislation. If we had to do figure all that out by passing constitutional amendments, the process of establishing the Army would take decades, would require the Constitution to balloon to millions of pages, and we'd have long ago been invaded by some other country with a form of government that actually works.

    The idea that you can't do anything not explicitly spelled out in the Constitution is just dumb, and this was settled in law in like the freaking Jefferson administration (read about the Louisiana Purchase).

  • by Shining Celebi (853093) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @12:41PM (#31612772) Homepage

    Says who? The US Constitution thats who says what the US Census is for. Article 1, Section 2: "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." You want more data collected and used in different ways? Change the Constitution.

    I wonder how the Founding Father's interpreted that? Well, let's see the questions that Thomas Jefferson asked on his 1790 census.

    * Head of Household
    * Number of Free White males of 16 years and upward
    * Number of Free White males under 16 years
    * Number of Free White females
    * Number of All other free persons (by sex and color
    ) * Number of slaves

    From here: http://www.gengateway.com/census/1790_census.htm [gengateway.com]. Hmm. I suspect Thomas Jefferson may have had a better idea of what the Constitution meant than the libertarian fanatics who suggest breaking the law (it is illegal not to answer every question on the Census, and wastes taxpayer money as they to hire more people to come to people's doors and find stuff out).

    Just for comparison purposes, let's take a look at the 2010 short-form census that the vast majority of people are receiving.

    How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010?
    Were there any additional people staying here April 1, 2010 that you did not include in Question 1?
    Is this house, apartment, or mobile home: owned with mortgage, owned without mortgage, rented, occupied without rent?
    What is your telephone number?
    Please provide information for each person living here. Start with a person here who owns or rents this house, apartment, or mobile home. If the owner or renter lives somewhere else, start with any adult living here. This will be Person 1. What is Person 1's name?
    What is Person 1's sex?
    What is Person 1's age and Date of Birth?
    Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin?
    What is Person 1's race?
    Does Person 1 sometimes live or stay somewhere else?

    , like the age and DoB one, are from the 1800 census. Others, like the naming question, are a later addition because it was found that asking for names helped people list the correct number of people. But all in all, it's pretty much the same census the Founding Father's took. You're also missing the "in such manner as they shall by law direct" clause. Sure sounds to me like Congress can direct the Census people to ask more and different questions according to the Constitution. [census.gov]

  • The census data is absolutely useless to medical researchers. "Black" doesn't describe anything about an individuals genetic code other than melanin content. The genetic variation among "black" people is as great or even greater than the genetic variation between any given black person and white people. "Asian" is used by the census generally to describe anybody from about Pakistan eastward, lumping Indians with Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese, all of which are very distinct from each other. And what constitutes "black" and "white" today, anyway? Is Tiger Woods black, asian, or what? Are his kids black or white? Do you want to bring back the old "one drop" test, so if any of your ancestors are black, you are deemed black? Demographers are among those who continue to insist that we define our society by skin color, so I don't feel much need to help them out. I also put American for race.
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @12:51PM (#31612980)

    The Constitution doesn't work that way. It doesn't prohibit them asking for more information

    They can ask, you don't have to answer - by the 4th and 5th amendments. The only authority is for an enumeration. Look it up, you will find it means counting.

    other clauses imply that so long as it isn't prohibited expressly or implicitly then there is no problem as long as it serves a legitimate government purpose.

    I believe you don't know how to read the Constitution. 10th amendment and article 1 section 8. It's a limited government with enumerated powers. If it were unlimited, god help us all.

  • by operagost (62405) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @01:39PM (#31613924) Homepage Journal
    So I'm a racist because I don't care where you came from? Talk about Newspeak!

    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. - MLK, Jr.

  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @01:47PM (#31614092)

    I no longer expect any privacy from my government.

    Pretty sure the US Government (I'm not sure which Government you're under; you didn't specify) never promised you privacy in the first place. You could change that with a Constitutional Amendment, but it wouldn't be easy.

    What the hell has happend to us as a country? Has it always been this fucked and we just have the means to know about it now? Or were things truly better back int he day?

    It's always been fucked, and in fact it's better now than at any time in history. Hell, even the summary mentions innocent people being put into concentration camps here in the United States-- is that the "back in the day" you want to experience? Concentration camps?

    What you're experiencing is called "nostalgia." It *should* be treated as a psychological disorder, like any number of other delusions, but instead it's, unfortunately, seen as normal.

  • I wonder how the Founding Father's interpreted that?

    Irrelevant. As Madison said [wikisource.org], "As a guide in expounding and applying the provisions of the Constitution, the debates and incidental decisions of the Convention can have no authoritative character...the legitimate meaning of the Instrument must be derived from the text itself; or if a key is to be sought elsewhere, it must be not in the opinions or intentions of the Body which planned & proposed the Constitution, but in the sense attached to it by the people in their respective State Conventions where it recd. all the authority which it possesses."

    The doctrine that the Constitution should be interpreted according to the "original intent" of the framers is nonsense, since the "original intent" of the framers was that their intent not be used to interpret the Constitution.

    I suspect Thomas Jefferson may have had a better idea of what the Constitution meant than the libertarian fanatics who suggest breaking the law

    Like the other Founders, Jefferson was a criminal, a terrorist insurgent who fought the lawful rule of the British crown. He was also a slave rapist, but that was legal at the time. Law ain't no guide to the right thing to do.

    The feds are authorized to conduct an enumeration, not an interrogation. [unreasonable.org] I will be filling in the number of people who live here, and crossing out all other questions; I'd like to see everyone else do the same. If the feds want other data, they can get it by anonymous surveys that give much more privacy protection than their assurances to "trust us."

    When government or big business wants your info, it's always best to ask what's it's being collected for, and give only that which is needed to accomplish the legitimate goal. The checkout clerk at the market doesn't need my zipcode to complete our "I give you cash, you give me stuff" transaction, and so he doesn't get it. The feds don't need my family information or home ownership status to do the headcount to divy up Congresscritters, and so they don't get it.

  • How does A1S2 of the Constitution prohibit asking demographic information?

    The relevant question, rather, is how does it permit it? It authorizes an enumeration. That's a counting. It does not authorize more than that.

    I'm willing to grant the feds a lot of leeway to tax, spend, and regulate commerce, under their Constitutional authority. But I don't see Constitutional authority, or a need, to interrogate people about their family or their lives under color of an enumeration to apportion Congressional representation. (If the feds want more demographic information, it can be gathered via anonymous surveys.)

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @03:01PM (#31615438)

    The voters voted for politicians.

    Fixed that for you

  • Re:I agree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Omestes (471991) <omestes AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 25, 2010 @04:52PM (#31617458) Homepage Journal

    You don't have a clue what it's like to be born into and grow up in a ghetto. You can't even imagine waking yourself up to go to school, not having breakfast, being half asleep all day from the sirens and the gunfire and the fights from the night before, and then going back home straight into your room, because it's simply not safe to be outside.

    White guy here; Yes, I do know what it is like. Not all white people are rich. I grew up poor, in a predominately Mexican and Black neighborhood.

    White kids absolutely glorify the same things. They love violence committed by the army and the police. They love bling in the form of 3 series BMWs and high end clothing labels and watches. They glorify drugs and use them, too. But here's the difference:

    Reverse racism for the win?

    e.) How many times have you been stopped in your own neighborhood for walking? If the answer is never, you're probably white. If the answer is every week, you're probably black.

    None, lately. But that was because I made use of existing resources (student aid) and went to college and got the hell out of the ghetto. But before that, I was stopped by the police several times a week. And while I never got collared for drugs, several of my friends were (about 50% of whom were white). I never got collared, not because of race, but because I was never dumb enough to carry illegal drugs about with me, knowing that there was a VERY high police presence in my neighborhood.

    Oh, and these resources I mentioned are just as easy for minorities to make use of, as white folk. Easier actually.

    Culture plays a VERY large roll in how you turn out. Culture permeates every aspect of your life, and pretty much everything you do is a reaction to the culture in which you were raised. My parents raised me to get above the street kid I was turning into, they taught me the value of learning and not being a tool. That was the only thing that saved me. My parents, judging from where we lived, were not privileged, either, they just had a good ethic. A lot of the kids (of all stripes) didn't have that, their parents sat around smoking pot (or worse) with their kids, didn't have a single book in the house, and didn't value education. These are cultural values, and not forced on high by some big evil racist regime.

    Sitting around blaming "white folk" is part of the problem. The more you blame others the less responsibility you are willing to take.

    In the end, ALL OF YOUR PROBLEMS ARE YOUR FAULT. Sure, some people have a steeper hill to climb, but they still have legs. Yes, the cards might be stacked against some people, but they are still at fault for their ultimate failure.

    I am not writing this as a wacko libertarian, randroid, social Darwinist. I am a proud socialist, and think that we should give a hand to those who need help. Ignoring culture to instead blame some nebulous evil empire conspiracy (the white patriarchy) is stupid. To some tribes in South America live in mud huts, near starvation, in the middle of a rain forest because of the evil white regime? Or do they live that way because that is how their culture set them up to be?

    Examine the culture that members of cultural under-classes choose to consume, it reinforces the stereotypes which keep them from sharing equal spoils with the greater society. And no, these aren't forced on them by some evil souless white society, they CHOOSE to consume them.

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