Originally created 04/03/00

Send in census form

Augusta area residents have so far returned about 32 percent of their census forms -- well below the national average of 44 percent, which itself is a poor return rate.

It's understandable why many Americans resent the way the census is being done -- not just counting heads as the Constitution calls for, but asking questions, especially on the long forms, which delve deeply into respondents' personal lives.

Such Big Brother nosiness brings out America's inherent rebelliousness. There's also a strong urge, even among those who receive the short forms, not to cooperate with what's often considered an overweening federal government.

All that said, it's still wrong to ignore the census. In the first place, you're cheating yourself as a taxpayer. Census counts determine how much states and localities will receive from the $180 billion earmarked for federal programs.

An undercount means you won't be getting back your fair share. It could also jeopardize the possible two U.S. House seat Georgia is expected to get after this census.

At a minimum, answer as many questions as you can without violating your sense of privacy. That will at least give Washington an accurate head-count when time comes to dole out the federal largesse.

Of course, there may be repercussions later. You could be contacted by a census-taker, even threatened with a fine, if you don't cooperate in filling out the rest of the form.

You can deal with that matter then, but for now fill out the form as much as your conscience will permit and send it back. It's the right and patriotic thing to do.

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