Counting Us | Urban Living
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Counting Us



It seems a bit early to be writing about the 2020 census, but there's a lot of jabber going around about the pros and cons that are coming next year.

The census is important and it's one of the country's oldest counts of everyone living here. The U.S. Census Bureau had only six questions in the very first count, which included: 1. Name of the head of household; 2. Number of free white males 16 and older; 3. Number of free white males under 16; 4. Number of free white females; 5. Number of all other free persons living on and in the property; and 6. Number of slaves owned. The first count was taken by 650 U.S. marshals who went house to house (unannounced) on horseback to anywhere they could find people (white people). The Washington Post reported this first count cost $45,000, but our government is predicting the 2020 census will cost $15.6 billion or about $100 per household.

WTF do we need a census? There are at least nine censuses mentioned in the Bible. They were taken to figure out taxes to help run cities, governments and empires. America has a count every 10 years. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2010, 74% of households returned their forms by mail. Those who didn't send in the form were tracked down by an army of paid census workers. This information is collected and then released to any of us who want to see it. It's used for a bazillion reasons, to wit: Allocating federal funds for community and education programs, education, housing, health care services for the elderly; job training; determining where state, local and tribal funds will be distributed for new schools, roads, bridges, law enforcement, and fire departments. Our 911 systems are based on maps from the last census and it helps rescuers plan ahead for disasters. Census data can help you qualify for a pension and help establish your citizenship. That last one is what's all abuzz in the media.

The Trump administration wants the citizenship question asked of all people within our borders. Opponents fear undocumented immigrants will not answer the census at all, which could mean less data in some areas. Less numbers means that an area could lose electoral votes during a presidential election, federal funding, and the number of political representatives that area would have in Congress. The census is coming, and the final questions haven't yet been decided. Will there be queries into the number of wives living in a household? If married LGBTQ people will be recognized as legally wed? How will transpeople be counted if their birth certificate is different than how they present? We'll know these answers very, very soon.