Monday, March 8, 2010

Incensed over the Census

Oh no NOT another rant against government policy – can you find a hobby already? Ok, I’ll keep it short but I just had to express my TOTAL enthusiasm for the Census, and it has not even REALLY started? A couple of months ago when I first saw that the US Census Bureau had approved some mindless non-sensical television ad campaign featuring Hollywood ‘c-listers’ – I knew we were in trouble. The Bureau blew $2.5 million on this ad for the SuperBowl and who knows how much in production costs.

Now I follow the rules, so this TV ad was not directed at me. But humility aside, if I cannot decipher the bigger meaning of the message, then who can? Is the census bureau aiming their media blitz at doctoral Fellows or pop culture elitists – I’m not sure? The ad is in English (sort of?) so clearly it wasn’t directed at folks where English is not their primary language?

Today I received yet another reverberating stroke of genius from the Census bureau – a letter. No not the letter WITH THE CENSUS but a letter SAYING the census will be coming soon? Is anyone amazed that we have any money at all in the U.S. Treasury?? Oops I forgot – WE DON’T, we’re deep in debt! I’m sure it makes sense in some alternate universe (known as Washington D.C) to send a couple of hundred MILLION snail-mail reminder letters as opposed to the ACTUAL mail itself? I remember the Feds did the same thing when they promised that goofy stimulus check awhile back. That one, they sent at least two “It’s coming” letters prior to ever sending the actual check?

I went on the USPS site just for grins and giggles. I punched in a half-ounce, machine handled, presorted first class letter in their pricing form. It only goes up to 9,999,999 pieces of mail. The price per piece came back at a tad over 41 cents. So assume the Feds get a ‘good guy’ rate and they get yet another discount for mailing 200 million letters. In 2001 there were about 120 million single family homes in the US. Add for 10 years of growth, businesses that get the notice as well as apartment units, I think 200 mil, is a fair guess. Assuming the piece rate is 30 cents + a couple of cents for an envelope, a couple more for ink and energy, and finally two pennies more for processing, labor, & transportation to move these gems. That’s a total of 36 cents times 200 million letters or $72 MILLION BUCKS to reach out and touch someone - all on the backs of the AMERICAN TAXPAYER?

Ok, I really do have to find a hobby. Trying to figure out governmental priorities is taxing on the brain … paycheck …. wallet – uh well YOU UNDERSTAND. If you do, then at least you are doing better than I am. In the end, just the 'promotional' budget for the census (not the cost of counting) is about $350 billion. Here is a link to the Superbowl version of the census ad and for more fun here’s the link to another version of the census commercial. Enjoy them since you paid for 'em.

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