Did you know the average commute for a Columbia County resident takes about 25 minutes?
How about the percentage of foreign-born residents in Columbia County (4.8), or the percentage of residents older than age 5 who speak a language at home other than English (8.2)?
All this information is from www.census.gov, the Web site of the U.S. Bureau of the Census. But where does it come from?
Well, dear citizen, from you - whether you want to provide it or not.
The Census Bureau each year conducts the American Community Survey, sampling residents across the country. Two years ago, the bureau surveyed 722 Columbia County residents for the project.
Well, they're back. Residents recently have been receiving a packet in the mail containing a copy of the survey and a cover letter explaining the recipient's patriotic duty to fill it out.
In addition to names, birth-dates and ethnicity of everyone in the household, the survey asks about such things as the education level of each of those residents, whether they suffer from "blindness, deafness or a severe vision or hearing impairment" and how they got to work last week. ("Ferryboat" is an option.)
One Jones Creek resident was somewhat concerned about the detailed nature of the questions, and called the Census Bureau to politely decline to participate.
Sorry, they said, but you don't have a choice. As the Census Bureau Web site ominously point outs: "response is mandatory."
When Congress authorized the bureau to create the survey, it included a $100 fine for residents who fail to fill it out or lie on the responses. Once the camel's nose was under privacy's tent, Congress later hiked the fine to $5,000.
For those worried about loose-lipped federal bureaucrats, Census employees who fail to keep individuals' information confidential can be punished by a prison term of as much as five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
Sure, all that census information is fun and occasionally useful. For example, there are more than 12,000 people older than age 5 in Columbia County who consider themselves "disabled," and 26.7 percent of the county's businesses are owned by women.
But that trivia has to come from somewhere. Your government says it's coming from you - like it or not. Tag; you're it.
Marlow is out
Speaking of tagging, James Marlow, the top-finishing Democrat in the recent 10th District congressional race, has tagged out of next year's race and instead is endorsing fellow Democrat Bobby Saxon.
Rep. Paul Broun has already drawn a Republican primary challenger, Barry Fleming. The 10th District generally is considered a "safe" Republican seat, so any Democrat candidate would hope to avoid a challenge from a fellow Democrat while letting the Republicans beat each other up in the primary. He then gets to save his money for the General Election.
There's a wild card, however. Denise Freeman, the No. 2-finishing Democrat in this summer's election, had run for the seat twice before - and she hasn't said no to running again.
Saxon told me he has talked to Freeman and the two have "agreed to disagree" about the race - which is a sign that Freeman probably will run.
At least the Republicans won't be having all the fun next summer.
The folks at Retreat Day Spa in Evans are offering free haircuts and other services all day Monday, while accepting donations for the American Cancer Society.
Along with the Garlic Clove's upcoming Italian Thanksgiving Feast, these businesses are doing great things for a great cause. Let's help out, shall we?
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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