Monday, June 28, 2010

I'm Invisible!

I don't count. I know it now. When the new census figures come out, I will have nothing to do with congressional representation or even any of the ugly new innovations like federal funding and pork projects. All because I don't count.

The census doesn't want me, apparently. It all started with the Super Bowl, where, if you are an American citizen, you watched with me as "we" paid a million bucks or so to present a largely boring, uninformative "commercial" about our responsibility to answer our census questions. They said the packet was coming.

I waited for that packet. It never came. I saw all the guilt trips they paid for to shame us into sending a packet, and I faithfully watched my mailbox. It never came. I would have filled out the short questionnaire, but I never got one. Then I heard the threat: that if we didn't fill out the package, federal employees would come by and ask us the questions in person. Now, as we near the halfway point of this constitutionally-mandated census year, those people still haven't come by. Because to Washington, I obviously don't exist.

I tried getting them to send me a packet or to come by. I went online and looked at the FAQ for the census, but evidently my question is not "frequently" asked: "What do I do if no one knows I'm here?" The site was replete with information about how to get jobs with the census and what was going to be done with the info, and how to recognize a valid census worker if one came by. But there was no information on how to get myself counted and on the census rolls.

I don't exist. This isn't the first time I've found that out. When the entire US TV industry went digital, I found out I didn't qualify for one of those government-funded digital converters because I don't live in this house and I don't exist. But enough of that. If you want that story, you can read my other post on that here. But I realize now that in Washington I don't exist.

I keep hearing the boasting about what the census will do, but I seriously question the results we are going to receive. Every day I'm hearing about fraud, about fabricated figures and forged forms, and we all know about the partisan arguments that are coming when we finally get ready to crunch numbers. We have learned that in the double-speak of American partisan politics, numbers really don't mean anything until someone has "processed" them for us, made them palatable to the unwashed masses (read "anyone outside the Beltway").

So do me a favor. When they give you the final numbers for the US population, add four to the total. That's how many people have not yet been reported here. This megabillion dollar debacle is not getting an accurate count at all. No one has even bothered to look for the people where I live. And they have not given us a way to get in touch with the rest of the world, even in cyberspace.

Will I actually be represented in Congress for the next ten years? Why would that happen? It hasn't happened for a long time anyway. It's a strange feeling, being invisible and all, but I somehow think I'm not alone. How many millions of other people never got a form in the mail, were never visited by anyone? I know my name is on the roll somewhere. Publisher's Clearing House found me out here, even though I've never played their game. And DirecTV and Verizon Wireless and anyone else that can find profit out here. But let's face it: I'm not profit. I'm not a minority, nor do I represent any special interest group. I'm just me, and my wife and two kids currently living at home are just -- well, "they."

Oh, I need to mention one more thing. I went by the local HQ of the census office that I found nearest my address. It looked like an old office, temporarily rented for the year. I went by making sure it was not a holiday or lunch hour. I thought I could just pick up a form there. I'll never know, however, if I could have gotten one.

They were closed.

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