The U.S. Has $340 Million to Promote the 2010 Census, But Not Enough Cash to Count Married Gays?


Three hundred forty million dollars. That’s not how much it will cost the United States government to conduct the 2010 Census. That’s how much it’s spending to promote it.

The nine-figure budget means all the stops pulled out, with the marketing campaign launching yesterday “with the debut of the Census Portrait of America Road Tour in New York City’s Times Square. A 46-foot trailer, to be unveiled on NBC’s Today show, and 12 smaller cargo vans with 14-foot trailers will crisscross more than 150,000 miles nationwide through April to promote the benefits of responding to the 10-question Census. They will stop at more than 800 events from local parades and festivals such as New Orleans’ Mardi Gras and San Francisco’s Chinese New Year celebration to national sporting events from the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500 to the NCAA Final Four.”

It’s actually pretty great to see the Fed spending so heavily to promote such an important project, whose data will be used over the next decade, and beyond, to determine everything from social services spending to election districting. Especially since $80 million of that will be spent to reach non-English speaking residents in some 28 different languages.

But it’s also a reminder that, hey, the federal government has 340 million dollars to spend on an advertising blitz, and yet they claimed not to have the resources to bring its data collection methods up to date to count married gay couples?

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  • hyhybt

    Possibly a stupid question, but why do they have to promote the census at all?

  • Concerned Citizen

    The campaign is actually meant to SAVE taxpayers money. If people don’t answer the questions they receive in the mail (for many different reasons, mostly due to misunderstanding the purpose of the census), enumerators are required to physically visit their homes. This, obviously, is very time-consuming and costly. Raising awareness and educating people about the census will lead to more forms returned by mail and fewer homes that need to be physically counted. A very small increase in the number of forms returned equates to hundreds of millions of dollars–tax dollars–saved. In the end, the money saved in enumeration costs will more than cover the money spent on advertising and promotion.

  • hyhybt

    Amazing. That actually makes sense… and from the government, no less :)

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