Within just a couple of cycles of the U.S. Census after it was established in 1790, it became clear information collected in the process was important for many more reasons than envisioned by the nation's founders when they required it, in effect, in the Constitution.
Originally, the Census was intended to ensure seats in Congress were allocated proportionately to states' populations. But it quickly became apparent Census information was valuable for other purposes, including keeping the American people informed of precisely who and what constitutes our nation.
The "Statistical Abstract of the United States," published by the Census Bureau, has become the tool to disseminate that information. Data on everything from who lives where and how much they earn to where people face certain health challenges is contained in the Abstract.
But now, allegedly to save money, the Census Bureau has announced it will stop providing the Abstract.
Publishing the material costs relatively little in the context of a $4 trillion-a-year federal government.
This is, after all, "the information age." It is a time when Americans need more, not less, access to critical facts and figures. One reason why it is critical for us to be informed about the real state of the nation is so we can question the decisions of policy makers.
The Census Bureau should find other ways to save money and retain the Abstract.