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"I saw that there was a census taker lurking about. Did they brief you about why they need to know people's race, salary, SSN, whether they rent/own, etc.?"

Census takers don't lurk. They're required to identify themselves. They ask questions that have been mandated by Congress, that self-adulating collection of hypocritical poseurs. It's illegal not to answer the questions, though the Bureau of the Census doesn't prosecute these things.

Keep in mind that during the largest surpluses in this century, the House of Representatives had to classify the census under emergency spending. I guess they were surprised to learn it's been a constitutional requirement since 1790.

TeraGram's answered the spurious race question, calmly and factually, but the conspiracy crowd prefers to believe its own ravings. To paraphrase: you're asked how you identify yourself. There's even a fill-in place, with enough letters to spell out "space cadet" if that floats your boat.

Census bellyachers are much like the folks who complain about the IRS, as if the agency passed the tax laws and the exceptions to them that make the system as complex as it is.

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