The question about the importance of the census caught my eye several days ago ("Do you think the census is important?," Streetwise, March 19, page 4). As I read the responses, I was surprised that nobody mentioned the precise purpose of the census. The reason for the census is to have representative government. We number the citizens in order to send local representatives to Washington that we know, or think we do, and we trust. Hopefully, we trust our representatives to use good judgment. How can we have a successful life if our government is intervening where it shouldn't, or not intervening where it should? The current system where districts have been divided based on computer models of voting behaviors is really a perversion of the intent of the census and representative government, but at least we still have somewhat of a say in who leads. So yes, the census is important.
As to all of the reasons mentioned in the interviews, they centered around securing funds for ourselves out of the big piggy bank in Washington. Funding is really only incidental to the census, and perhaps a questionable motivation for our representatives. I would suggest we have too much money sent to the federal piggy bank if we have to use our legislative process to get back what was taken to meet our bills. Requiring representatives to propose sometimes questionable projects as amendments to legislation in order to bring money and jobs to a district is unpleasantly manipulative. It is also frustratingly wasteful.