CNN's Erickson: I'll "[p]ull out my wife's shotgun" if they try to arrest me for not filling out the American Community Survey
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From the April 1 edition of WMAC's In the Morning with Erick Erickson:
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ERICKSON: This is crazy. What gives the Commerce Department the right to ask me how often I flush my toilet? Or about going to work? I'm not filling out this form. I dare them to try and come throw me in jail. I dare them to. Pull out my wife's shotgun and see how that little ACS twerp likes being scared at the door. They're not going on my property. They can't do that. They don't have the legal right, and yet they're trying.
[Erickson read the italicized portions from Daniel Freedman's April 1 Weekly Standard article titled "The Orwellian American community Survey"]
ERICKSON: Come on, people. It's a Constitutional obligation. How can a 21st century society function without knowing how many people are actually living in the country, legally versus illegally for that matter? What's the harm with filling out the census? The Constitution -- for those of you who say I'm not filling out the c -- it's in the freaking Constitution. You got to fill out your census.
Now, let's distinguish, separate and talk about the American Community Survey. Sometime in the 90s this thing came on. Somebody over at -- this has got to be the Weekly Standard, the way it prints out. Who is this? David [sic] Freedman, director of Strategy and Policy Analysis at the Soufan Group, writing at the WorldwideStandard.com, also the WeeklyStandard.com. It is the American Community Survey. He calls it Orwellian.
My nightmare started in January when I received the American Community Survey (ACS) form in the mail. The ACS is an extension of the Census that all households receive. While the U.S. Census form contains 10 questions and is sent out every 10 years, the ACS form contains 48 questions and is sent to 250,000 households each month on a rolling basis. Every year.
The ACS itself is a lesson in government overreach. Article 1 of the Constitution allows for a census every 10 years so that seating in Congress is proportional to state populations. Lawmakers gave the Commerce Department the power to ask more questions, and it took that power and ran, and ran, and ran, and ran, with it as best they could -- ending up asking questions unrelated to redistricting.
The ACS questions are to "manage or evaluate federal and state government programs" -- not to help with congressional seating.
Now, to go beyond that, and to deviate from what David's [sic] writing about, another reason to fill out your census form, being a local government politician, let me tell you -- you've got to fill out your census form because it's not just about redistricting at the local, state and federal level. It is also about allocating resources of the federal government based on population, so that we get the resources that we are allegedly entitled to by the federal government. Basically, it's for our welfare. I mean, we're all welfare queens when it comes to the federal government with the census. You send in your census form, they say, oh, Macon's got X number of people, therefore they qualify for this amount of funding from the federal government. All these grants you can now apply for, or can't apply for based on your population. That's why we got to have it.
But what's problematic about the American Community Survey are the questions [sic] it demands from citizens. The least threatening of them are just strange, asking whether your home has a flush toilet -- which homes don't have a flush toilet unless you live in Appalachia? Or are one of those greeny people who only use one piece of toilet paper.
[Comment from someone off-mic]
Yeah. Yeah, one -- Ugh. Sheryl Crow must have a lot of fiber in her diet.
They ask whether there is a business (such as a store or barber shop) or a medical practice on your property. Then there are financial questions asking everything from your sources of income, to how much you spend on gas, electricity and water. The IRS asks just what you earn, the Commerce Department wants to know everything about how you spend your money.
Even more invasive are the personal questions. The questionnaire asks how many people live with you and their relationship to you, and their names, ages, genders and race. Now that's actually part of the census form. But the ACS delves more into that and wants to know where you work, what time you leave for work, how you get to work, how long it takes you to get to work, how many people travel with you.
It's like a questionnaire a stalker might send you.
[Comment from someone off-mic]
Yeah. Scammers. Yup, yup. Scammers could be doing this.
So David [sic] writes, I didn't quite believe that the government would demand such personal information and threaten citizens with fines up to $5,000 if they don't hand it over. When friends, from Justice Department officials to university lecturers, heard about it from me, their first thought was that it was some kind of sophisticated mail fraud. After learning that the ACS was real, I reluctantly spent an hour answering the questions, vowing at the same time to protest to my representative in Congress.
A few weeks after sending in the form, a representative of the ACS left a note at my apartment asking me to contact her. When I did, she said she'd like to come to my apartment to go through the questions. I replied that I'd already filled out the form, and if they had lost it, it was their duty to find it. I also didn't want a stranger entering my home to ask personal questions.
And the ACS representative ignored David's [sic] comments and turned up twice unannounced, demanding entry, warning me of the fines I faced if I didn't cooperate, I cited the First [sic] Amendment and reiterated what I told her on the phone. After that, I sent a letter of complaint to her director.
David's [sic] saga ended on March 23 when an ACS program supervisor investigated the case and discovered my form had in fact been received on February 8th, only it was sitting on the side and never processed. She thanked David [sic] for writing in to complain and noted the harassment.
This goes back to my morning point, opening the show. The Congress has empowered the Commerce Department to ask questions. The Commerce Department has decided if you don't ask the -- answer the questions, it's going to fine you, have you arrested, and throw you in jail for not asking [sic] the questions. The servants are becoming the masters. We are working for the government. We have become, or are becoming, enslaved by the government.
This is crazy. What gives the Commerce Department the right to ask me how often I flush my toilet? Or about going to work? I'm not filling out this form. I dare them to try and come throw me in jail. I dare them to. Pull out my wife's shotgun and see how that little ACS twerp likes being scared at the door. They're not going on my property. They can't do that. They don't have the legal right, and yet they're trying.
- Erick Erickson