|By G. Michael Dobbs|
I imagine you received the same kind of form letter we did last week an alert to expect our federal census.
As always, I will fill it out and get it back because I want Springfield to be able to get the funding and services it should by the size of its population.
I also want every community in our region to be eligible for what should be coming to them.
The census form will take a few minutes to fill out. It's private. The specific information is not shared with any other government office.
And yet there is an anti-census movement in this country led by people who see a conspiracy lurking around the corner. Critics of the census believe that while the Constitution orders the head count every 10 years, it does not dictate the kind of gathering of information today's census officials seek.
Article 1, section 2 of the Constitution states "Rep-resentatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons."
Interestingly enough, while some census critics believe the census should only be a head count, it never has. In 1790, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson had U.S. Marshals on horseback conduct the census.
They asked the following questions:
Name of the head of each household?
How many free white males age 16 and older.?
How many free white males under age 16?
How many free white females?
How many of all other free persons?
How many slaves?
Considering slaves were property, rather than people, counting them was important for taxation purposes. From the beginning the census was not just about a head count.
By 1920, these were these questions on the census form:
Name of street, road, avenue, etc?
House number or farm?
Number of dwelling in order of visitation?
Number of family in order of visitation?
Name of each person?
Relationship of each person to the head of household?
Is home owned or rented?
If home is owned, is it free or mortgaged?
Sex of person?
Color or race of person?
Age of person at last birthday?
Is this person single, married, widowed or divorced?
What is the year of immigration to the United States?
Is this person naturalized or alien?
If naturalized, what is year of naturalization?
Did this person attend school at any time since Sept. 1, 1919?
Is this person able to read and write?
Place of birth of this person?
Place of birth of father?
Place of birth of mother?
If foreign born, give mother tongue?
Is person able to speak English?
Industry, business or place of work?
Is this person an employer, salary or wage worker, or worker working on own account?
Number on farm schedule?
The 2010 census asks only 10 questions, one of the shortest in history.
So if you want to see the largest amount possible of your tax dollars come back into your community as funding for schools, roads and programs, take a moment, fill out your census form and drop it back in the mail.
A tip of my Moody's Diner baseball cap to Mayor Domenic Sarno, City Councilor Tim Rooke and Michael Fenton and everyone else who worked together to keep Titeflex in the city. It is clear that every community in the region has to be proactive in not only encouraging new businesses to come here, but retaining the businesses that we have.
It is clear we must look at business regulations and taxes and seek ways to make the Bay State friendlier to businesses.
This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments online to email@example.com or to 280 North Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028.
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