Cultural Revolutions

Conscientious Refusal

The 1990 census arrived last week, along with the usual past due notices and Gold Card applications. I am one of the lucky Americans who received the long form, which asks for such inconsequential data as how much I earn, which of the myriad minorities I swear allegiance to, and how much money I spent on utilities. Even to track down the information would have taken several hours, and after reading through the form I could not find any mention of payment for my time and trouble. Besides, my children are something like one-thirty-second Native American, and I would not want any careless answer of mine to blight their prospects of joining the ever-growing class of minority victims.

I've been through all this before, back in 1980, when a census-taker with the long form tracked me down to my own God's Little Acre in McClellanville, South Carolina. She was obviously a nice person, an unemployed schoolmarm, but I did not ask her in. Government agents are like the Devil: it is always safer not to invite them to step across your threshold. You see, she explained, all this apparently private information is really the government's business, because they have to make plans and allocate resources. To do that, they have to determine where poor people, especially poor minorities, live.

I said then what I say now. I don't want the government to allocate resources or to waste my tax money on government programs to help...

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