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Census Takes Little Information
March 17, 2010

As many Americans have, I received the 2010 census form in the mail this week. The constitutional mandate to take a census of the population every 10 years since 1790 has historically been used to offer a snapshot of the American people and their economic situation as well as family profile.

What a disappointment the 2010 census will be to future historians.

Other than the fact that the form confirms that my address exists and who lives there, there is nothing to sink your teeth into.

Future historians will not be able to compare one census to another to determine the advancement or lack thereof of creature comforts, or income level.

While future generations will probably not care if I have graduated to a wide screen TV or not in this decade, it seems like a waste of a good form (that records up to 12 people) not to ask some of the in-depth questions that made prior census results so interesting.

Who doesn’t like to read about the historical advance of indoor plumbing?

Sure, the Department of Commerce doesn’t ever ask the really important questions, like whether there is a coin collector in residence, but other information gathered in the past has its uses.

Now if they could just make the federal income tax form as quick to fill out, then we’d have something.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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