Big Brother knows

We’re nervous, too. We filled out the U.S. Census form last week, and we were frightened by the deeply invasive form that asked such penetrating questions as how many people were living or staying in this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2010? Were there any additional people staying here April 1, 2010 that you did not include? Is this house, apartment or mobile home owned with mortgage, owned without mortgage, rented, occupied without rent?

Gosh, in this country where more than 80 percent of the population owns a cellular telephone by which the government can track owners down to a few square yards, we can see how people would feel so violated by the government asking whether they are Hispanic.

Did you ever Google yourself? Try it, now. Plug in your name surrounded by quotation marks. We’ll wait. One of our staff members, for the sake of example, had 57,000 hits on his name. His father’s name was shown on one of the links. His town of birth was on one of the links. Oh, and there’s his phone number and address and a map to his home and even his age. Oh, look, a nude photo from 1995.

Or better yet, why not check out the records the government already has on you. Ever voted in Nevada? Call the registrar of voters, and you will discover the public records include your name, address, phone number, date of birth, phone number, party affiliations, signature—the list goes on—and are already in the government’s hands.

Do you drive? Have a drivers’ license? How about a registered car?

Maybe you own a handgun. Maybe you were a member of the military. Maybe you were arrested. Maybe you did something newsworthy in the last 10 years and got your name in the paper.

Are you getting where we’re going with this? This isn’t some brave new world where the government suddenly has access to information about you because you filled out your census form. More likely, the government will use the information it already has about you to see if you failed to fill out your census form or lied on it for some ungodly reason.

All right. We know some right-wing whack jobs have filled the air with tales of government spying through the census. (And why do the tales have to be tall, when the government, with aid from telecommunications carriers like AT&T, participated in illegal dragnet surveillance of domestic communications and communications records of millions of Americans from 2001-7 and plenty of times before that?)

You’ve lost the privacy war. You’ve already lost it. We’re not saying you should have lost it, but after 9-11, fear-filled citizens just wanted the government to make them feel safe.

The 2010 Census is not a secret government conspiracy to find out how many children you don’t live with. It will decide how the federal money gets allocated to our city. It helps decide redistricting. People who don’t fill it out cost responsible taxpayers more money.

Don’t be a dipshit. Fill out and send in your census form by April 15.