The Census and Despotism

by: Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

The 1790 census seemed innocent enough, but by 1810, matters already were out of control: For the first time, the government started demanding information on occupations. Fortunately for the American people, the records were burned by the British in 1813, leaving hardly a trace for the state to use to expand its power. And yet, the state would not be held back, and the census became ever more intrusive.

The lesson of the history of the U.S. census is this: Any power ceded to a government will be abused, given time.

If you do choose to fill out the census, some commentators have recommended you adhere strictly to the Constitution and admit only how many people live in your household. That such a tactic is considered subversive indicates just how far we’ve come from 18th-century standards of intrusion.

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