'Statisticians: Guardians of Democracy,' a nice piece about the importance of the U.S. Census Bureau by ASA Fellow Rod Little

By Steve Pierson posted 11-28-2012 14:18

If you haven't seen the article, "Statisticians: Guardians of Democracy," by Rod Little, I encourage you to read it and, more importantly, to share it with your non-statistician friends and your elected officials. Published in the fall issue of the University of Michigan School of Public Health's publication, Findings, it's a wonderful piece about the importance of the U.S. Census Bureau to U.S. society and governance.

Rod's article addresses the general reactions to him spending two years forming a research directorate at the U.S. Census Bureau, including the "public perception that [Census Bureau employees] do the Decennial Census and then twiddle their collective thumbs for ten years" and "Official statistics, bean counting, so boring and mundane!"

Rod provides many examples -- which I won't reproduce here lest you not read his piece -- to justify statements like "The knowledge generated from government statistical agencies like the Census Bureau forms the backbone of our information society" and "People at the U.S. Census Bureau are much more than bean counters—they create the information base for our free society."

With the U.S. House of Representative's efforts to eliminate or make voluntary the American Community Survey (see this ASA Community blog entry), it's critical that we educate the public and elected officials about the importance of the work of the federal statistical agencies. Please take a moment to share Rod's article with your U.S. Representative and Senators along with a personal note. You can do so using the contact feature on your senators’ and representative’s websites, which you can find at the House of Representatives website (or by entering enter your zip code at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/) and at the Senate website. If you have a Twitter account, you can Tweet the article to your elected official using their Twitter handle. If you do so, please use hashtag "fedstats" (E.g., "[insert Representative's or Senator's Twitter handle], federal statistical agency work is vital to our economy and governance http://www.sph.umich.edu/news_events/findings/fall12/policy/census.htm #fedstats.")

Thank you, Rod, for this terrific article and for your time at the U.S. Census Bureau.

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See my other blog entries.