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News-Enterprise: Take the time to be counted

February 24, 2010

I’m likely a bit of an exception among journalists in that I love numbers and statistics. Get me an Excel spreadsheet and a CSV data file, and I’m in heaven – creating charts, looking for patterns and trends, crunching the numbers.

That’s why I’ve always liked the U.S. Census. There’s a wealth of information in there, and you can really get a sense of place from those numbers. When I considered moving to Owensboro to take a job with the Messenger-Inquirer, one of the places I went to try to find out more about it as a city was the U.S. Census Bureau.

That’s why the massive undertaking every 10 years to gather that information is so important – so this country can know itself better and learn about how it has grown and changed.

In its editorial today, the Elizabethtown News-Enterprise makes its pitch for local participation in this year’s census, pointing to how much this count counts when it comes to federal funding and representation.

From the editorial

Over $400 million of annual federal funding or more than $4 trillion over a 10 year span will be allocated by the United States government as a result of how 10 questions are answered between March 1 and April 1. The 2010 decennium Census questionnaire will be mailed to each household to gather basic data as outlined in the United States Constitution.

Ten minutes every 10 years is not too much. It is a small investment to gain accurate resource allocations for hospitals, schools, emergency services, bridges, public work projects, job training centers and senior centers. In addition, population data gathered will be used to make other important decisions such as how electoral districts are determined.

So much depends upon how this country counts its residents. How money is spent, how communities are represented in government – they are all based at least in part on these counts.

So if not for the sake of a numbers junkie like me, but for the sake of your community, participate when the U.S. Census Bureau contacts you this year.

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2 Comments
  1. Trying to stay informed permalink
    February 24, 2010 4:55 pm

    Owen, I just wanted to say a quick thank you for maintaining this blog and for all of the blogs the Messenger has implemented. I appreciate this format for receiving information and I look forward to checking it on a regular basis. I am excited about the potential for Owensboro. I hope that others who are excited and those people that are frustrated with decisions that are currently being made in Owensboro will each find constructive ways of expressing their opinions. I think being involved and trying to make a difference in ways that you are capable and enjoy is the best way any Owensboro citizen can work towards the type of change they hope to see. I hope that people will continue to see the value of being involved rather than being disheartened and giving up. I have to remember on a daily basis that I can’t complain if I am not putting forth effort to fix a problem. In my humble opinion, posting a message or comment on a message board does not constitute effort. I am somewhat afraid that in this age of instant information and technology, that too many people will not realize it.

  2. February 25, 2010 9:30 am

    Thanks so much for the comment. We’re looking at ways to bring more information to people, and new formats to provide information, and I think these blogs will really achieve those goals. I’d like to see more people involved in discussing the issues that we as a community are facing, and any outlet that allows that should be a positive step.
    The “comments” section on our Web site has expanded that discussion to some extent, and hopefully this and our other blogs will take it further. But you’re right, just weighing in with an opinion is a first step toward offering solutions, not the only step.

    Thanks again for the feedback, and for joining the discussion.

    Owen

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