How we learned to stop worrying and love the American Community Survey

I don’t like filling out surveys as much as the next guy.  But I wouldn’t think the world would come to an end if I was told I had to do so.

Yet, some of rhetoric coming from Right-wing blogs and the Republican Party would have us believe that the U.S. Census Bureau and the American Community Survey (ACS) are the devil and his pitchfork — alluding to some Orwellian future if the ACS was allowed to continue.  Some of this rhetoric has made it into the official Republican platform:

…the Census Bureau acts exactly as a scam artist would, asking very personal questions and using fear of penalties to manipulate the repondent to answer…

…the Census Bureau has used tactics such as harassing letters, phone calls, agent visits and even questioning neighbors to get information about respondents.

…the Republican National Committee recognizes that the Census Bureau is spending millions of tax dollars to violate the rights and invade the peronsal privacy of United States Citizens…

Resolution Concerning the American Community Survey, approved by the RNC August 6, 2010

They turned harsh words into action as The House of Representatives recently voted to eliminate the ACS, a “mandatory,” mail-based, national survey of 3 million people conducted annually by the Census Bureau.  Political antics quickly followed suit.  The Left was quick to admonish congressional Republicans and cast this as yet another example of Right-wing extremism.  The Right feels vindicated that it has given yet another blow to a government that has overreached its authority.

Let’s take a breather for a moment and consider some facts:

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