Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How The US Census Bureau Is Wasting Taxpayer Money

Yesterday I received an envelope from the the U.S. Census Bureau. "Cool, must be our census form", I thought. Nope, it was a letter from the director to tell me that I should receive a census form in the mail in about a week. Huh?

Why bother wasting the money to print and mail out these notices when they could simply send me the form? People are as likely to open the envelope with the form as they are the envelope with this advance notice. I know the census is this year and will gladly fill out the form and send it back.

I don't know how much the Census bureau wasted sending this letter to every address in the country. When the IRS sent a similar advance notice about the tax rebate checks during the Bush administration, news reports at the time placed the cost at around $20 million.

The average U.S. tax payer pays roughly $7,907 a year in income taxes. If the $20 million figure holds true for this mailing, that would mean income taxes paid by the hard work of 2,529 U.S. taxpayers funded nothing else but this useless letter. And the government wonders why citizens are upset over wasteful spending and budget deficits. That $20 million could've gone towards paying off the federal debt (a drop in the bucket, but still a lot of money and drops add up).

The census is a valuable tool, only happens every 10 years and is only as accurate as the data provided by citizens. The bureau has the responsibility to get the word out and reach a high participation rate. I get that and support their efforts.

They also have a responsibility to taxpayers to spend our tax dollars wisely. Sending out useless letters and producing lame Ed Begley, Jr. commercials that aren't effective doesn't help them achieve either goal.

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