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US census takers fight angry Americans for their data

They barely even vote. Why would they fill in a form?

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Hardliners protect their... census data?

Once one got past the property managers (and sometimes we didn't), either by informing them that by law they could not impede census work and that there was a fine for obstruction, or by simply ignoring their stupid arguments and gaining unfettered access to their tenants independent of assistance, one finally got to deal with the hardcore census-dodger. After two weeks we knew all their tactics. They played possum. They would avoid taking down notices of visit - little slips of paper put in the door when they could not be initially contacted. Or they would put their notices on the doors on their neighbors, which in addition to being psychoneurotically antisocial, gave them away.

The Census is getting personal

Or they came to the door and resorted to insults - why dont'cha get a real job - or beratings over how busy they were, particularly if they worked for an important or high-tech company. They would refuse to answer outright or engage in argument over invasions of their privacy and government violation of their inalienable rights. This was fueled by the Fox News network's peddling of a continuous stream of programming insinuating that the census was government malfeasance or hiring criminals to go door-to-door.

One well-publicised pundit even famously said he would use a shotgun to scare the census if it came on his property. The sense of cracked entitlement was palpable. It was within their rights, the census-dodgers would insist, to not disclose anything. This kind of civil disobedience was typical, which is to say the petty demonstration of liberty in not taking three minutes to answer a few simple questions always resulted in inconvenience for neighbors who had actually taken the census without fuss.

This was because the census was empowered to ask neighbors for information on the person at the NRFU address next door or across the hall. And so one would explain the fellow next door had been uncooperative, and so would you - ma'am or sir - give us a bit of information on him? In all cases, the census would keep coming back to the same address, until it got what it needed, often settling for as little as a basic population count in a living unit.

YouTube became a repository for video from census resisters. Upon searching you can find them protesting the arrival of the enumerators, often videotaping operations, some people even getting their jollies from badgering temporary government employees. Some seemed to think they were shaking a fist at the government while being upstanding, not realizing they were just taking it out on their neighbors.

The enumerators, you see, were picked right from the communities they worked. I still walk by all the places I hit every week. Ah, the memories. Directly, enumerators also got firsthand evidence of the Great Recession. Outside of seeing increased turnover in apartment complexes, retreat was manifest in other ways. During one week's work, I was bitten by fleas on every sally. I eventually sussed it was happening at an upscale compound of condos where the tenants had a great many dogs as pets. The halls were carpeted and perhaps the property manager had cut back on sprayings. The dogs, in and out on a daily basis, had carried fleas into the common passageways where, sans insecticide, they found the animal and human foot traffic much to their liking. ®

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