The Census: From Tullius to Trump
Even though 67-percent of recent Harvard/Harris poll respondents want a "citizenship" question on the 2020 Census, the issue is in doubt. Meanwhile, here’s some historical perspective:
In the 6th Century B.C., the Roman ruler, ServiusTullius, decided he needed to do a better job of managing the Roman Empire. His advisers told Tullius, "Sire, you cannot manage what you cannot measure!"
"Okay," said Tullius, "I need to know two things: 1. The number of males of military age that I can command. 2. The location of the property that I can tax. How do I do that?"
Paging through an early version of dictionary.com, his advisers found the Latin word "censere," meaning to assess, to register citizens. Yes, census means to register citizens.
Now, fast forward to the time of the American Revolution. Our Founders were faced with a monumental management task as laid out in the Preamble to the US Constitution: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Consequently, our Founders found some probably Philadelphia-based management consultants who said, "You cannot manage what you cannot measure!" So, according to Wikipedia, every ten years the US Census is based "on actual counts of persons dwelling in U.S. residential structures. They include citizens (emphasis mine), non-citizen legal residents, non-citizen long-term visitors and undocumented immigrants (again, emphasis mine). The Census Bureau bases its decision about whom to count on the concept of usual residence. Usual residence, a principle established by the Census Act of 1790, is defined as the place a person lives and sleeps most of the time..."
As Shakespeare might say, "Ah, there’s the rub." America’s largest cities (controlled by you-know-which party) have America’s largest numbers of homeless people. But since the homeless are going to be counted along with everyone else, what’s the objection to finding out who are citizens and who hold a different status?
Recall, Mary and Joseph were homeless when they had to go "home" to Bethlehem for the Roman Census. Factor in Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, plus the three Wise Men and the Bethlehem Census increased by six.
Anyway, every living, breathing person inside the U.S. border is supposed to be counted because a major purpose of the US Census is to determine how many members of the 435-member US House of Representative should be apportioned to each State.
Quite naturally, every State would like to have more members of the US House than it has already. Because the number of House seats is fixed at 435, States with rising populations take away seats from States with declining populations. (The number of US Senate seats is fixed at two-per-State and is not subject to reapportionment.)
Each segment of our population, whether here legally or illegally, poses its own management challenges. So, it stands to reason that government needs to know who’s who and what’s what. As Servius Tullius learned 26 Centuries ago, "You cannot manage what you cannot measure."
©2019. William Hamilton.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. Dr. Hamilton is the author of the soon-to-be-published: Formula for Failure in Vietnam: The Folly of Limited Warfare, McFarland Books, (2019). "Central View," can also be seen at: www.central-view.com.