Today, Michael Linton has similar thoughts in a post at First Thoughts called The Sense of the Census:
I thought that the main purpose of the census was to preserve the Republic by fairly appropriating representation in the House of Representatives, electors, and direct taxes, at least that's how I read that bit of Article One, Section 2 of the Constitution. OK, it was never that simple: there's all that business about Indians not being counted and only three/fifths of a slave (which meant I guess--at least on an account book--you could hack a slave apart and count two legs and an arm had to leave out his head and the other arm, which, come to think of it, is what actually happened to a lot of white boys here in Murfreesboro at the Battle of Stones River, history has an terrible way of settling scores)--but that was the general idea, messy as it was.
But there's not even the wisp of a hint of that notion in the letter. Not much of a civics lesson here about "no taxation without representation" and all that. The census is about loot. And getting my communities' "fair share" of it. And it's loot I need. The United States Federal Government tells me so.
If you move beyond simply the loot itself, you can see that the broader message is that you need the government. And the government can't "help" you if they don't know you're there. The government also needs you in that the more of you there are to help, the bigger and more powerful the government needs to be. You help us and we'll help you. Why bother teaching a civics lesson when you can go with good old fashioned greed instead?
UPDATE-- Charlotte Hays has more at The Corner on National Review Online:
I just spotted the worst U.S. Census ad yet. Several D.C. buses now sport huge ads on their sides that read (approximately--I'm doing this from memory), "If we don't know how many people there are, we won't know how many buses we need." Yes, you will. A business knows about supply and demand. If operated as a business, Metro would know how many buses it needs without the census. But, increasingly, we're an allotment society. The ad betrays the way bureaucrats, drawn to central planning (namely because they get to do the planning), think. Plus, it shows why we're being lobbied so heavily about the Census forms, which most people fill out as a matter of course. Fill out the Census, and get something for yourself, even if it's a bus you don't intend to ride.
SISYPHUS ADDS: There is exactly one reason for Minnesota conservatives to participate in the census and I have not seen it mentioned in any of the census ads or even on the census website.
No, I don't want Minnesota to receive more federal spending (I pay federal taxes too). Nor do I want Minnesota to get more congressional seats or electoral votes - they would go to Democrats. I hope Minnesota loses congressional representation to say, Alabama.
But I will be filling out my census form for one and only one reason: The fine for not doing so is up to $5000. My census ad would be simple: "Fill out your census form accurately or give us your cash."
The Nihilist Chimes In-- Damn! I had just about finished a whimsical post suggesting that Minnesotans and other dark blue staters fill in one under for the question about residents in the household. That way, our idiotic brethren would likely lose a congressional seat to Texas and we'd face the delicious prospect of seeing a turf battle between Tim Walz and Collin Peterson. However, I'm going to have to scrap that idea because I would never advise anyone to break the law.