Friday, April 2, 2010

Count Me In

Off from work today. Got 8 hours of sleep. Closer to 9, actually. Took the dog for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Had a nice breakfast. Enjoyed three cups of freshly brewed coffee. From everything that I read, I should be at the peak of my mental powers right now. So let's do this.

The great sportswriter Dan Jenkins once described golf as a good walk spoiled. With so many people protesting every last little thing these days, it's now more important than ever to carefully pick your battles. If you're throwing a tantrum every day, eventually everybody stops listening. I lose my temper so infrequently that when I do, the matter of my anger is treated with much more respect. Anyway, I understand a lot of the anger regarding the health-care bill, bailouts, cap and trade legislation, etc. Yet there's one protest that's to be catching fire that seems to me to be a good protest spoiled: The Census.

I received my census form in the mail a couple of weeks ago, and prior to its arrival it was a popular topic on many of the radio and television talk shows that I frequent. I heard bluster and outrage about what an invasion of privacy it was. How dare the government ask for things as invasive as "How many people live at your house", or "How old are you?" (especially prickly for female participants) How dare they??

Before I opened it, I expected to see all sorts of probing questions, so I was a little bit disappointed when I saw that all it wanted was to basically see who lives in the house. That's it. We lead a pretty simple existence, Pumpkin and me (or is it Pumpkin and I?). We both work, pay the mortgage and bills on time, go out to dinner every so often, hang out with an old dog and watch TV at night, go to bed at a decent hour. We have nothing to hide. In short, answering the questions took no longer than a couple of minutes. I put it in inside the postage-paid envelope (thanks USA!) and mailed it off the next morning.

I laugh (and yes, scoff) at the people who say they're not going to put down honest information. As someone who's dealt with identity theft, I'd rather the government have honest information than not. But if it makes you feel better to to list your address as the one that Mr. Douglas and Arnold the Pig used in "Green Acres", knock yourself out. It just seems like the waste of a good protest to me. A good protest is something that accomplishes something at the end of the day, whether it was the intended consequence or not. Shirking the census has all of the impact of screaming at the TV when the ball goes through your shortstop's legs. It feels good to get your frustration out, but in the end accomplishes nothing.

I wonder how many people who bitch and moan about filling out the census form give all that information (and more, much more) to their local slot club so they can stand in line and get a free fanny pack or two-slice toaster. Prioritize before you energize.