October 2, 1998


OPINION

Census Sampling, An Issue Not to Die For!

By Raoul Contreras

It seems that the whiners among us have issues of the week to draw sustenance from that involve children, cigarettes, clean water, dirty water, dirty air, clean air and ghosts. Ghosts? Now the whiners want to count ghosts in the next census of the year 2000.

Yes, the census is upon us again and every Democratic Party hack in the country will be placed on the Federal payroll to help count the American people as mandated by the Constitution in Article I, Section 2, Paragraph 3, which states, "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 a manner as they shall by law direct."

The problem, the whiners tell us, is that not all of us are counted every ten years. Black activists complain that not all Blacks are counted; Latino activists complaint that not all Latinos are counted; homeless activists complain that not all homeless are counted. These three groups of uncounted have one primary characteristic, they are the poor and dispossessed and they usually "live" in the cities. Thus, we are told, not only are these groups deprived of congressional representation, but the federal dollard that follow population are sent elsewhere.

These people estimate that there might be 4,000,000 undercounted people, ghosts if you will, and that deprives cities some congressman. But the way, each U.S. Congressman represents about 600,000 constituents, thus we are talking about 6-7 Congressmen out of 435 representatives. In dollars, we are talking about some serious money, $3-4-billion.

So what's the big deal? A few people disappear when the Census counters come to the neighborhood in order to avoid being talked to; a few people don't respond to Census questionnaires — so what? At most, a half-dozen Congressmen wind up representing the right number of people. They just don't represent the "right" people. The dollare are spent, though not on the "right" people. The cities want the money, the activists want the money and the half-dozen Congressmen.

So, how do we handle this problem? The activists, the Democratic Party and President Clinton want the uncounted counted in some way so that they can spend the money, elect more Democrats and give the president another issue. The Republican Party says no and points to the Constitution and to the word "enumeratin", which means to count, not to guess.

Specifically, President Clinton wants to place into being a system where counts are projected by "sampling". This is a system designed to use mathematical and computer calculations to "estimate" the uncounted and to include that estimate into the total census "enumeration". Thus, something like 90 per cent of the American population will be actually counted and something like 10 per cent will be estimated. So desires President William Jefferson Clinton.

Two Federal three-judge panels have said no to the President and the Supreme Court has already announced that they will take up the matter in November.

The Republican congress has repeatedly told the president No to sampling and has not voted the money necessary to set up the sampling system. President Clinton has warned that he will veto any appropriation bill that contains money for the Census that doesn't include money for sampling. The President thinks he can shut down the government on this issue and embarrass Republicans. The president thinks he can turn this into a racial and ethnic issue by turning Blacks and Hispanics against Republicans. The President thinks he can win this issue. Can he do any of these things on the issue of "sampling", can he?

No. It simply isn't a do or die issue. Only six potential congressmen are involved and they would go to new York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston. The other 429 Congressional districts would not be affected. Blacks might gain a seat or two, Hispanics a seat or two and other seats would be shared with suburban areas, so it isn't a matter of do or political die.

For Black and Hispanic activists to start the partisan anti-Republican rumble and now they are going to punish tnem for not counting ghosts is silly and whiny. Nevermind that "sampling" is unconstitutional. Of course, the Constitution never stopped these people, so why should it now?

Rather than conjure up political strife and presidential vetoes over a stupid issue like "sampling", why don't the whiners get behind the Republican-sponsored Puerto Rican statehood. If Puerto Rico does send Democrats to the House and Senate, wouldn't that suffice to enlarge representation for blacks and Hispanics as Puerto Ricans are certifiably of both minority-types.

Sure, those apportioned seats would come from New York, Chicago and other eastern cities, but so what? Under "sampling" Blacks and Hispanics would lose representation in some areas to gain in others. Certainly, the White-suburbs aren't going to lose, Presidential-vetoes notwithstanding, there are more votes in the suburbs than in the inner-city. Even the Census Bureau says so and that wouldn't change with "sampling".

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