The Overblown Debacle of the Census: In Swahili

Joe Schoffstall | May 4, 2010

A parody has been made mocking the 2010 Census titled, “Outtakes from the 2010 Census Video, In Swahili.” Within the video, a man jokes how his father warned he would never make money as a translator- the naive father obviously never heard about the 2010 Census, or he would have never made that daring of a prediction. (Background: The U.S Census Director, Robert M. Groves, poured money into video guides for the 2010 Census-- in 63 languages.)

As funny as this video may seem taken at face value, it tends to lose its edge when you remind yourself that your tax dollars fueled this great debacle and directionless campaign of the Census. At one point, as most will remember, the Census Bureau sent everyone a notification letter that served no other purpose other than informing people they would be receiving another letter from the Census Bureau soon. This pointless notification letters cost $85 million to print and mail. Yes, $85 million for a letter giving people a heads up about a second letter coming soon. The Census Public Information Office said they put aside $340 million for its publicity campaign. On April 1, reporter Edwin Mora attended a rally in which the executive director of a D.C Latino community organization called on Hispanics, regardless of their immigration status, to participate in the 2010 Census, saying doing so would expand their access to $400 billion in government funded “resources.” “To the Hispanic community, the reality is that, the Census, participating in the Census is very important,” said Rodrigo Leiva in Spanish at a rally that was focused on getting the American public to participate in the tabulation of the Census. Mora translated this, as no one around him knew what the D.C leader had just said- since they did not speak Spanish. Later, Mora discovered that government authorities stated that IT problems put the accuracy of the Census at risk. “IT problems place the efficiency and accuracy of Non-Response Follow Up at risk and final decennial costs remain uncertain,” Judith Gordon, the principal assistant inspector general for Audit and Evaluation at the Department of Commerce, who runs the Census Bureau, testified. As the most expensive Census in our nation's history, it’s estimated that the entire process cost anywhere between $11- 15 billion dollars to conduct from start to finish - all of the above are fantastic examples of the coherent 2010 Census and the straight shooting, extremely inexpensive tactics used to push it.