The U.S. Census has been conducted every decade since 1790 as required by the Constitution.
Although, the task today is far more time consuming and expensive than it was in the 18th century when the U.S. population was under 4 million (less than the state of Washington, which now has about 6.5 million people).
The cost of conducting the 2010 Census has been estimated at $11 billion, although the cost could be higher or lower depending on, well, you.
The Census is a tedious process in which the nation is flooded with census takers who literally count every head. The Census starts with the mailing of 100 million or so census forms, which will cover about 80 percent of the nation's residences. In addition, Census takers personally deliver about 22 million forms to dwellings that lack street-name and house-number addresses, often in rural and remote areas.
Fill out the form and return it. The deadline is April 1.
The form doesn't take long to fill out. Doing so will actually save the government -- the taxpayers -- money as there will be no need to send out a Census taker to follow up.
The goal of the Census is to count every person living in this country. It's important to have this information as it is used for a variety of purposes. For example, the Census numbers are used to determine representation in Congress.
The number of seats in Congress is fixed at 435. The state of Washington has nine of those seats. But Washington's population seems to have grown over the last decade while other states (Michigan, for example) have lost population. It's possible Washington will get a 10th representative.
The federal government allocates about $400 billion every year to the states (essentially sending our tax dollars back to us) for roads, health care and other needs. The dollar amount received depends on population. The more people the more money a state, city or county receives.
The distrust for government seems to be growing. That's going to make it even tougher -- maybe even dangerous -- for Census takers.
But making things difficult for the Census takers won't punish the government, it ultimately hurts you, your community and your state. Refusing to take part in the Census increases the cost of this constitutionally mandated process.