Way out there among the legions of birthers and deathers and FEMA concentration camp believers, there's the census haters. Led by Minnesota rep Michelle Bachmann, they refuse to fill out the 2010 census forms because...because....something about government spies or black helicopters or whatever, we're sure.
It's just the type of nutty right-wing theory that should find fertile ground around here. But no -- in an astonishing wave of common sense, both the city of Houston and Harris County have surpassed the 2000 rates for mailing in their forms.
In 2000 Houston's "mail-back rate" was 64 percent, and Harris County's was 66 percent; this year the city's is 67 percent and the county's 68 percent.
"We're relatively happy with the results in light of the fact many pundits thought we wouldn't even reach the 2000 numbers," census spokesman Eduardo Guity tells Hair Balls.
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The rates will likely increase a bit, he says, because the agency has yet to weed out bad addresses and families with two homes that got two surveys but only needed one.
Nationally, each percentage point increase in the mail-back rate saves $85 million, he says, because it means less workers have to go door-to-door to track down the people who couldn't/wouldn't answer the ten questions.
Starting May 1, about 16,000 such workers will begin spreading out across the greater Houston area, "knocking on every door where we sent a form but it wasn't returned," Guity says.
Luckily, Michelle Bachmann's door won't be included.