Government Obsession Over Race

This morning I received yet another mandatory survey from the US Census Bureau.  I have written about these before.  We have to fill out the Census lodging survey (a long and tedious detailed financial report) as well as a myriad of other Department of Labor and Commerce surveys.  Where I can legally, I throw them away.  If I risk prison not filling it out, I do so reluctantly.**

So this morning I got the Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons (SBO).  Apparently the SBO comes out every five years.  It's got a big MANDATORY stamped on it so with a sigh I started it up online to get it over with.

The survey was mercifully short, but it was bizarre.  After asking me my address, it asked how many owners there were, and then for each owned asked his or her race and gender.  And that was it.  Suddenly the survey was over, particularly quickly for me because I always refuse to answer race questions on surveys.

But that is the sum total of what the government wants to know about business owners - race and gender and nothing else matters I guess.


** I know I always engender outraged comments over this.  I refuse to supply the government with data that they will use to pass new laws to make my life harder or take more of my money.  As for economists and academics, they are welcome to pay me for the effort of filling this out but I should not be obligated to labor for their benefit.


  1. oneteam:

    The government has no business knowing the internal workings of my business. I pay taxes and that's it. The more information they have, it seems, the harder it is to operate a business. Why should I contribute to that cycle?

  2. MingoV:

    The Census Bureau puts MANDATORY on surveys even when no law requires their completion. The Census Bureau has no mandate whatsoever to query businesses. The EEOC act did not add race-oriented business survey powers to the Census Bureau. Unfortunately, it's probably necessary for businesses to complete surveys because failure to do so might result in a Census Bureau employee contacting the IRS, EEOC, EPA, OSHA, or any other federal agency that can harass businesses.

  3. kidmugsy:

    Recently I was asked to be a patient in an NHS research project. It sounded worthy so I agreed. I was handed a form to complete, glanced at it, and said that I'd fill it all in except for the bit about my race. They dropped me from the study. Clearly advancing medical science had to take second place to placating the race relations industry.

  4. marque2:

    Your case might be different. We are now discovering drugs affect people differently based on race, and subrace. Redheads for instance, suffer from pain more, and pain medications don't work as well. It may be that they need to have an even sample to make sure the drug or technique is equally effective. Though if a drug came out just for redheads, I would imagine there would be an outcry about racism. Though sickle cell treatment is mostly for blacks, that is OK because well you know.

  5. Matthew Slyfield:

    In the US, sickle cell is thought of as a black issue, but this is not the case. Sickle cell is present in all populations living in areas where maria is or has been epidemic. In an area where malaria is epidemic, sickle cell is actually adaptive as it provides resistance to malaria.

  6. JB:

    Unless it comes Certified return receipt requested, I didn't get it.

  7. mesaeconoguy:

    Exactly correct, it is a genetically chosen trait, advantageous in malaria-stricken areas.

  8. marque2:

    Yes you are correct, and where was malaria historically most prevalent?
    Think we could get red head drugs?

  9. marque2:

    It is genetically advantageous, unless you get two of the genes.

  10. Matthew Slyfield:

    The worst outbreak of malaria in the 20th century happened in Siberia. It was also epidemic in Alaska prior to the introduction of DDT. Sickle cell can be found in several white Mediterranean populations.

  11. Tom Nally:

    To race and ethnicity questions, I always check "other" and write in "American".

  12. Matthew Slyfield:

    Go look at that map again. It proves my point that sickle cell isn't a strictly black / African issue. It shows white Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Asian populations.

    Most people who associate malaria with Africa do so under the mistaken impression that it is a tropical disease. Prior to the introduction of DDT malaria was found everywhere.

    The only reason that malaria is largely confined to Africa now is because DDT was used to wipe out the species of mosquitoes that carries malaria everywhere else and it got banned before they got to Africa.

  13. marque2:

    I did look at the map there is a small incidence in southern Europe, a little in the middle east and some folks in India, but the vast majority is in Africa, which is why the map is centered in Africa and not Siberia.

    Anyway the point is that we are too PC to make race specific cures, unless the race group is PC. Don't look for too many cures for "white" diseases any time soon. This argument has diverged significantly from my original point.

  14. kidmugsy:

    "are now discovering drugs affect people differently based on race": impossible; race is a social construct.

    Or, to be serious, the enquiry wasn't a scientifically serious enquiry about race, because it was actually about "race" or "ethnic group" - inclusion of the latter rather dilutes any utility of the answer, doesn't it? Anyway, maybe I was too sensitive; but wouldn't you be if your previous NHS appointment had been prefaced with a question about your religion? Political Korrectness Korner?

  15. Joel Fine:

    Yup, I do the same thing. Show me a legal definition of "race" that says I'm something other than American...or, for that matter, show me something that says I can be prosecuted for saying that my race is American.

  16. sirgareth:

    They are sending me threatening notices and I'm continuing to ash can their requests.

    This country is looking more like Nazi Germany with every passing day - "ihre paperien bitte"