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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ron Paul And Friends Fail Civics 101 Again

Seriously, why is this guy ever accorded respect for his dedication to constitutional principles when he clearly has not or cannot read the Constitution itself?  But I'm jumping ahead...


The modern Republican Party: creating myths about what the Founders thought out of thin air yet actually opposing what the Founders invented while screaming tyranny.

The latest example of the second part of this equation comes from the House passing a bill eliminating the census surveys that have been part of the census process ever since 1790 when noted tyrant and suppressor of civil liberties Thomas Jefferson created it to learn more about how the nation’s people lived.

I'll note it's not a particular bill that was passed (though Rep Poe introduced one with 63 cosponsors including Ron Paul), but rather an appropriations amendment, which passed 232-190 (with Ron Paul voting for it).  The sponsor, Daniel Webster:

What does the Constitution require? Article 1, section 2 calls for enumeration every 10 years. The actual enumeration shall be made within 3 years after the first meeting of Congress of the United States and subsequent terms of 10 years.

For the record, here's the clause in Article I, Section 2 (emph. mine):

The actual Enumeration shall be made within three 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 by Law direct.

See the difference?  Notice the keyword 'within' and the important phrase, "in such manner as they by Law direct."  The Constitution does not require enumeration to be done only in years divisible by 10, but within a decade and however Congress decides it should be accomplished.

So when Webster said that, and when his friend Paul said this...

The founders never authorized the federal government to continuously survey the American people.

...they are unsurprisingly full of shit.  The Census has historically added more and more detailed questions to better understand the nation.  You know, data and stuff to figure out how we might best implement policy.  The ACS was born more recently, for good reason:

Many Americans found filling out the long form to be burdensome and intrusive, and its unpopularity was a factor in the declining response rate to the decennial census. In 1995, the Bureau began the process of changing the means of obtaining the demographic, housing, social, and economic information from the census long form to the ACS. Testing began in 1996, and the ACS program began producing test data in 2000, 2001, and 2002. The survey was fully implemented in 2005.

The Census Bureau does this in a manner as Congress by Law directed:

The Secretary shall, in the year 1980 and every 10 years thereafter, take a decennial census of population as of the first day of April of such year, which date shall be known as the “decennial census date”, in such form and content as he may determine, including the use of sampling procedures and special surveys. In connection with any such census, the Secretary is authorized to obtain such other census information as necessary.


In advance of, in conjunction with, or after the taking of each census provided for by this chapter, the Secretary may make surveys and collect such preliminary and supplementary statistics related to the main topic of the census as are necessary to the initiation, taking, or completion thereof. 

The authorization goes back over 30 years, and the Bureau began to work on making the process more efficient and accurate over 15 years ago.  This isn't some new thing that nefarious Muslim Kenyan Socialists have implemented, but part of the usual operations of a government that is mandated with promoting "the general Welfare" and whatnot.

And the Supreme Court affirmed such things over over 140 years ago:

[A] power may exist as an aid to the execution of an express power, or an aggregate of such powers, though there is another express power given relating in part to the same subject but less extensive...The Constitution orders an enumeration of free persons in the different states every ten years. The direction extends no further. Yet Congress has repeatedly directed an enumeration not only of free persons in the states but of free persons in the territories, and not only an enumeration of persons but the collection of statistics respecting age, sex, and production. Who questions the power to do this?

Indeed the whole history of the government and of congressional legislation has exhibited the use of a very wide discretion, even in times of peace and in the absence of any trying emergency, in the selection of the necessary and proper means to carry into effect the great objects for which the government was framed, and this discretion has generally been unquestioned, or, if questioned, sanctioned by this Court.

To be fair, the Constitution certainly does not expressly say that Congress has the power to ask you how many bathrooms your house has.  But people who paid attention to their civics and English teachers in junior high will say, "so the fuck what?"

Enumeration is done every 10 years.  The Census Bureau has had to be creative to fulfill that mandate--just ask Herman Hollerith and IBM.

Anyway, here's Paul again:

One can only imagine the countless malevolent ways our federal bureaucrats could use this information. At the very least the survey will be used to dole out pork, which is reason enough to oppose it.


The census also represents a form of corporate welfare, since the personal data collected on hundred of millions of Americans can be sold to private businesses. Surely business enjoys having such extensive information available from one source, but it's hardly the duty of taxpayers to subsidize the cost of market research.

What Ronnie calls 'pork' I call "not letting your neighbors freeze to death"...

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is required to profile housing unit types for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) eligible households.

...and "making sure people's right to vote is protected":

Under the Voting Rights Act, these data on population of voting age are required for legislative redistricting.

I will note that one need not imagine malevolent ways the government could use census information, though I'm not sure Webster really understands it all:

Why would we even pass a cybersecurity bill when we are using 5,779 hired government agents to collect sensitive information from our citizens at taxpayer expense?

Fortunately, the law does not allow sharing of census information with ANYONE, be it government agencies or corporations (which I thought Republicans/Libertarians tell us we can trust implicitly).  But I'm glad he brought up cybersecurity, because the whole point of it isn't to not collect and use sensitive data, but to protect it as much as possible through a variety of mechanisms, just as census data is.

At this point, I can't help but wonder why these people hate America.  I'm not even being snarky or glib.  Seriously, how can you fail to read the entire Constitution, let alone not want to know more about the nation as you debate the policies that make it run?


PS--The very first presidential veto in American history was of an apportionment bill by George Washington in 1792.

PPS--The First Congress first met on March 4, 1789.  The first census began on August 2, 1790, and was supposed to take 9 months, but dragged on later into 1791.  Still, the enumeration happened within 3 years.

Show a little "yuhyoohappy" during the NTodd Ain't Ann Romney Fundraiser *

May 10, 2012 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink


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I'm with them. If the gummint wants information about its citizens, it can damned well obtain it by warrantless surveillance, the same as our Founders did. [/RonPaul]

Seriously... Ron Paul is a nut-job, has always been a nut-job and is a less entertaining nut-job with every passing year he spends in the political process. Shouldn't he be retiring soon?

(OT, I hope I didn't offend you on my site by my abrupt reply to your question. I'm in a particularly tough political position this year.)

Posted by: Steve Bates | May 11, 2012 2:03:52 AM

Pshaw. I don't get offended. I get energized! And I empathize with where you are right now.

Posted by: NTodd Pritsky | May 11, 2012 9:20:28 AM

This is all exactly what I'd expect a nefarious Muslim Kenyan Socialist to say.

Posted by: phobrek | May 11, 2012 9:22:05 AM

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