Kingman resident irked by Census questions

Kingman resident Tom Stown thinks Uncle Sam is getting a little too inquisitive.

He said the Census Bureau is overstepping its authority and trying to get too up close and personal with citizens, asking them to answer more census questions than is legally required.

Stown said Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and other congressmen are urging citizens not to answer census questions they consider to be an invasion of privacy.

On the long form, that would be 52 out 53 questions, everything except the number residing in your household, Stown said.

"The only thing the census can ask you is the number of residents.

They don't have the right to ask your race, where you work, how far you drive to work or how much money you make," he said.

"Those questions are an invasion of privacy."

The Census Bureau is only authorized to ask the number of people living at a residence, nothing more, Stown said.

A decennial census mandated by Article I, Section 2 or the Constitution only authorizes Congress to count the number of people every ten years to apportion seats in the House of Representatives, he said.

"They are using it (the census) as an excuse to gather information on citizens."

Stown said it is wrong to profile people of different ethnic backgrounds for any reason, or to try and find out who much money people have.

Some citizens have gone as far as to question the legality of certain census questions in a court of law, he said.

Several lawsuits have been filed in federal court in Houston challenging the constitutionality of the 2000 Census.

The Texas lawsuit alleges that census questions go far beyond the "actual enumeration of population" call for in the United States Constitution.

But Doug Wayland, media spokesman at Census 2000 in Denver, Colo.

disagrees.

He said the Census Bureau is acting under the direct authority of Congress, whose legislative powers stem from the Constitution of the United States.

Ironically, Wayland cites a portion of Article 1, Section 2 of the constitution as the legal vessel that grants legislative power to conduct the census as Congress "sees fit."

The portion Wayland cites reads as follows: "The actual enumeration shall be made within 10 years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct."

Wayland said "in such manner as they shall by law direct," gives Congress the legal right to conduct the census as they see fit.

"It is our role as census takers to act on what Congress sees fit," he said.

Wayland said those that look at the census as an invasion of privacy are confusing the issue.

"We are living in the information age.

Information is sought from many sources in our society.

There is a sensitivity issue, and I understand the concern, but the role of the census is to gather statistics.

"Statistics are important tools for states, counties and communities.

So much is in the balance," he said.

But Stown said there are some things about himself that he would like to keep private.

"People have to stop this thing now, before it gets out of hand.

There are so many things the government is doing to invade our privacy.

It's getting so everything is being monitored.

"I'm not saying no to the census, I'm just saying there should be a limit to the questions," he said.