(Bill Redpath) – The Libertarian Party believes that the federal government’s current census procedures are unconstitutional, unnecessary, and too expensive. We believe that the census is constitutionally limited to collecting only one piece of information about each residence: the number of persons living in it. We urge Congress to change the census laws to comply with this constitutional limitation.
The U.S. Constitution empowers Congress to provide for a census in order to apportion Representatives correctly. The Constitution does not empower Congress to use a census for any other purpose. There is no need for Congress to collect additional information such as names, races, ages, sexes, or home ownership status. Unfortunately, the federal government wants to use the additional information to fine tune its control over the lives and money of the American people.
The 2010 census is expected to cost over $14 billion. A recent report from the Inspector General of the Department of Commerce indicates that preparations for the 2010 census have already been filled with waste and bloat. A proper census, limited to just a headcount, would be far less expensive.
Many Americans fear that the Census Bureau will not keep their information secret, and might turn personal details over to other government agencies. The Census Bureau promises that they will keep everything confidential, but they have broken that promise in the past.
As David Kopel of the libertarian Cato Institute has pointed out, during World War I the Census Bureau handed over lists of names and addresses so the federal government could search for draft resisters. And, shockingly, during World War II, the Census Bureau told the Justice Department which neighborhoods had high concentrations of Japanese-Americans. The federal government then used that information to find Japanese-Americans and imprison them in concentration camps.
As Congressman Ron Paul, 1988 Libertarian candidate for President, recently said, “If the federal government really wants to increase compliance with the census, it should abide by the Constitution and limit its inquiry to one simple question: How many people live here?”
(Mr. Redpath is National Chairman for the Libertarian Party)