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The Cargo Cult of Business » Non-Census


Published on 1 Feb 2007 at 2:52 am | No Comments | Trackback
Filed under The Cargo Cults of Business, Government: Federal, State and Local.

Warren Meyer at Coyote Blog comments here about his dislike of so-called census forms.  These forms aren’t the once-in-ten-years form used to apportion representation, but rather (further?) tedious governmental snooping with legal penalties for failure to complete them completely, promptly, and accurately.  Here’s the USDA FAQ  which discusses the version of this which I recently had to complete. Here is a link to the regulation page at the USDA-NASS site. REGS

What I hate about this is:

1. They’re an invasion of privacy 

2. Life, business, and in my case, farming, is too complex to be accurately represented by answers on a form. Furthermore, the agencies requiring the information are typically unwilling or unable to give advice about how the questions should be answered, what the definitions of the terms are, or even what the questions mean. Yet, one must answer correctly and completely, or face the force of law!

3. The amount of work required to answer these things reasonably accurately is quite large and constitutes a kind of tax or taking which I don’t appreciate.

In the end, yes, I’d rather they just had no information.  I wonder how these things would be received if they were aimed at the average salaried white collar worker…

1. How many times in the past year did you work past your nominal quitting time and/or through part of your established work break?
2. Please list the exact occasions and the duration of each incident.
3. Give the exact value of all incidental benefits received, eg. personal phone calls made from work and their exact dates and durations, food stuffs left in break room by co-workers with dates and values, and all similar events with exact dates, times, and amounts.

Remember that your responses are required by law to be complete and accurate…

I’ll bet people would pitch a fit even the folks in Washington would hear.   Is it a targetted policy intended to harrass categories of people such as farmers and small business people? Or, is it just that they know the general public wouldn’t sit still for it?


-- John
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