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Letters to the Editor 5/8

May 05, 2000

A world of enumeration

To the editor:

To Kenneth Prewitt, Director, U.S. Census:

I just completed my Census 2000 booklet. As an American I enjoy many freedoms and privileges. I understand that with these benefits also come certain responsibilities.

We are not asked to do much as citizens of this country: serve on a jury, vote, obey the laws, participate in government, and participate in the census. Therefore, I would feel foolish if I didn't complete my census booklet and return it to you. I would feel as if I had let my fellow countrymen down.

This sentiment might seem extreme to some but I understand that the census is a gravely important task. It helps determine federal funding levels for my state for multitude of programs and projects. It also helps determine our representation in Congress.

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The census is so important, in fact, that it is one of the few things the Founding Fathers provided for in the Constitution.

"The actual Enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such a manner as they shall by law direct."

It angers me that somehow, somewhere , an "actual enumeration" has turned into a 40-page booklet. How have we come to accept the absolute farce that an "actual enumeration" consists of questions regarding levels of income, education, health, and expenses of utilities? I have a college degree and earn a very good income. I am healthy and try to live within my means. Even with all of my education, health and money, I have no idea how to correlate these questions with an "actual enumeration".

Maybe more people would participate in the census if they didn't feel like they were being interrogated for a crime.

I have a feeling that the justification for these types of questions comes from a broad interpretation of the last sentence of that paragraph, "...in a manner as they shall by law direct." Should the law direct us to do something in complete conflict with the document that allows us to enact laws?

I, for one, find it difficult to sit back and let the Constitution be trifled with without an argument. Are we so arrogant as to assume that the language of the Constitution can be changed on a whim, that we can somehow improve upon it? Oh, the shame of this nation!

Michael P. Faith

Hancock

Bush has made a Texas-sized mess

To the editor:

Texas, that state of superlatives, is no exception when addressing human needs.

Since Dubya (the "compassionately conservative" G.W. Bush Jr.) became governor in 1995, Texas has led the nation in the number of uninsured people. It is often first as well in the number of uninsured kids. It is always first in the number of uninsured women. Every eighth Texas family has a hard time getting adequate, nutritious and safe food.

Texas ranks 45th in prenatal care, 46th in effort for public libraries and in high school graduation rate, 47th in delivery of social services, 48th in per capita spending for public health and parks/recreation, 49th in environmental protection. And it is 50th - it anchors the nation - in clean air. Houston beats out Los Angeles for the booby prize.

Republicans will claim these problems predated Dubya's administration and that governor in Texas is a weaker office than in other states. But Republicans also will claim Dubya's experience as governor fits him well to be president. They can't have it both ways.

At best, Dubya the Compassionate has been indifferent to most of these problems and has definitely contributed to one of Texas' superlatives: 48th best state in which to rear children. In 1998, the feds funded CHIP - Children's Health Insurance Program - for kids of the working poor. Texas' legislators wanted to be decent, to cover poor families earning up to double the poverty line. But Dubya would agree to only one and a half times the poverty line. The result was a whopping 193,000 fewer poor kids being covered.

Dubya says "I want to do for America what I did for Texas".

Do we dare let him try? He already decries the "domination" of Medicare and would rather subsidize seniors' purchase of private health insurance. Fat chance for Medicare-paid prescriptions. Had Dubya been in Congress in 1965 when Medicare passed, he would have joined Bob Dole in voting against it.

J.A. Hoage

Severna Park, Md.

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