Libertarians Say Americans Shouldn't Answer Census Questions

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( - The Libertarian Party said on Monday in Washington that it is the patriotic duty of Americans to refuse to answer most of the government's "snooping questions" on the 2000 Census form.

Libertarian Party Director Steve Dasbach said, "Real Americans don't answer nosy Census questions. You can strike a blow for privacy, equality, and liberty by refusing to answer every question on the Census form except the one required by the Constitution: How many people live in your home?"

During a news conference last week, Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt said, "Census 2000 can be a civic event that reverses the troubling decline in the level of civic engagement across our country. The results of the census affect power, money, group interests, civil rights; in short, who gets how much of what."

Dasbach took issue with Prewitt's statement, saying that's what is wrong with the census.

"The US Constitution says the purpose of the Census is to make an enumeration, that is, to take an accurate count of Americans for the purpose of apportioning Congressional districts. But the federal government has gone far beyond that Constitutional mandate, and uses the Census to ask dozens of probing questions, including the color of your skin, the number of toilets in your home, your disabilities and how many cars you own," Dasbach said.

Commerce Secretary William Daley said, at that same news conference with Prewitt, "Because the Census is so important to every resident, we must do everything we can to ensure that everyone is included in the count. This program will provide elected officials across America with the tools necessary to increase awareness and response within their communities."

However, Dasbach thinks the Census count has ulterior motives.

"The information collected by the Census is used to dole out an estimated $180 billion in taxpayer money to justify and expand wasteful government programs and to allow the government to discriminate against Americans based on their racial or ethnic background. In other words, Census information is used to forge the chains that bind Americans to failed government programs, meddlesome bureaucracies and a sky-high tax rate. We live in an information age. But the only information the government deserves on the Census, beyond the number of people in your home is, "none of your business."

However, Americans could be fined $100 by the Census bureau for answering "none of your business". Dasbach said he realizes that, but he added that the fine may not be so bad.

"Yes, it would be easier just to give the government the information it wants. But I think many Americans will realize that a $100 fine is a small price to pay for making a principled stand for privacy and freedom," Dasbach said.