In the words of Henry David Thoreau, "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." America is full of public health professionals who work tirelessly to combat obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. We've no shortage of activists who dedicate their lives to alleviating poverty. Our state and local governments employ traffic engineers to design transit systems that reduce commute times.
But these men and women are merely hacking at branches. Only the U.S. House of Representatives is striking at the root that underlies problems as disparate as traffic jams and economic inequality. That root: the knowledge that these problems exist.
To that end, the House voted 232 to 190, along party lines, to cut the American Community Survey…
The survey is not part of the constitutionally mandated population count, but some version of it has been done by law as part of the decennial survey since the time of Thomas Jefferson to assess the needs of the nation. It's generally considered a vital tool for business.
Republicans, acknowledging its usefulness, attacked the survey as an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, arguing that the government has no business knowing how many flush toilets someone has, for instance.
"It would seem that these questions hardly fit the scope of what was intended or required by the Constitution," said Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), author of the amendment.
Personally, I prefer Daniel Webster's early 19th century work, but this is still an ingenious solution. Worried about the inequality in resources that exist between schools with large numbers of needy students and more affluent districts? No longer a problem, since the survey used by the Department of Education to distribute financial aid is being eliminated.
Worried about identifying "areas in danger of ground water contamination and waterborne diseases," one of several reasons cited by the ACS for the necessity of asking sanitation-related questions? No data, no problem!
If only it were possible to make House Republicans disappear by not reporting on them.
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Tags: Census, House of Representatives, Republicans