2010 U.S. Census Results / A New Climate Law / Literary New York

The first results of the 2010 U.S. census are in; learn about the findings. In California, comprehensive climate legislation will go into effect in January. A new report says that Afghan businesses have great growth potential. At a business conference in Algeria, Tunisian and Moroccan entrepreneurs enjoy networking opportunities. And finally, explore literary New York.

First Results of 2010 U.S. Census
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The first results from the 2010 U.S. census reflect a modest overall population growth over the past 10 years, with continued population shifts towards Southern and Western states. The newest data will cause changes in the location of U.S. congressional districts. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, right, says the data will also be used to determine how federal resources are allocated and will help businesses identify new markets.

New California Climate Law
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With national climate legislation stalled in Congress, environmental advocates are focusing on action-oriented states like California, where the most comprehensive climate legislation in the United States will go into effect in January.

A Boost for Afghan Business
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A new report says that the private sector in Afghanistan has great potential for growth under improved business conditions, citing food production, mining, light manufacturing and services as particularly promising sectors.

Tunisian Entrepreneurs Meet
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Twenty-two Tunisian entrepreneurs attended the U.S.-Maghreb Entrepreneurship Conference in Algiers, which was organized by the State Department in partnership with the U.S.-Algeria Business Council. The conference featured panels and networking opportunities for up and coming North African business leaders.

Moroccan Youth Network
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After attending the U.S.-Maghreb Entrepreneurship Conference, young Moroccan entrepreneurs learned fear has no place when it comes to starting a business. Student Hamza El Fisiki says promoting entrepreneurship among Morocco’s youth is an important component to attracting overseas business.

Literary New York
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New York’s book culture sustains great writers and their work. Read about literary culture in the city and hear from authors Tom Wolfe, Pete Hamill and Emily Barton. Founded in 1927, the Strand Book Store, right, located on the corner of Broadway and East 12th Street, occupies five floors and contains 18 miles of books. The New York Public Library, on 5th Avenue at 42nd Street, is an integral part of the intellectual fabric of American life with more than 1 million books.

Taxation without Representation

When American colonists rebelled against the British Empire, they complained of “taxation without representation” because the British Parliament was levying taxes to gain additional revenue from its American subjects without giving them any say or a vote on the issue.

The next time you visit Washington, DC, check out the license plates.  Residents have adopted the revolutionary slogan as part of their long battle to gain the representation in Congress that other Americans enjoy.

In 1789, the U.S. Constitution authorized Congress to “exercise exclusive legislation” over the future U.S. capitol.  This was so the federal government would be on neutral territory rather than part of a particular state.  After Maryland and Virginia agreed to give up land for the federal district (Virginia later regained its territory in 1847), Congress moved there in 1800 and Washington, DC’s residents have since had no representation in Congress and could not even vote for president until 1961.

As DC has grown into a densely populated city, more are questioning the district’s founding arrangement.  About 600,000 DC residents pay taxes and serve in the military but lack a vote in Congress.  Congress also reviews and modifies their local budget and annuls any local laws it does not agree with.  

So why not simply give DC voting representation?  Politics is partly to blame.  It is all but assured that any DC representative would be a Democrat, and Republicans are well aware of that.  A compromise worked out over the past few years to simultaneously allocate a safe Republican seat in the House of Representatives fell apart April 20 over objections to an amendment that would have repealed DC’s gun control laws.  Utah, who would have gained the additional Republican, will get its new seat anyway, thanks to the 2010 Federal Census that will document its increased population.  The solution also denied DC residents voting representation in the Senate.  (Consider that Wyoming, population 544,000, has a Representative and two Senators.) 

Another proposal is DC’s retrocession to Maryland, which gives them Maryland’s two Senators and their own Representative.  However this would require a U.S. constitutional amendment and Maryland is reluctant to take on the responsibility and costs of governance, considering its own budget constraints and because it already has a huge metropolis (Baltimore).  Some advocate full statehood, but along with needing an amendment, detractors says this undermines the original neutral territory idea for the nation’s capitol.

There’s much more to this, but I’m out of space.  What do you think is a fair solution?

The 2010 Senseless Census

I bought a well used trailer a couple of years ago and placed it on the bank of a creek in Maryland’s Appalachian hills.  It essentially serves as a sturdier and more permanent shelter than a canvas tent.  There is no running water.  Because the electrical lines are haphazard, it rarely has power.  Plus there are leaks in the metal structure that have been “repaired” with duct tape.  Other than to sleep or cook food, I don’t spend a lot of time inside.  The whole point of my getting away from the city is to spend time outdoors.

The 2010 U.S. CensusWhen I arrived last Saturday, I was surprised to find a white plastic bag with the “U.S. Census” logo stuffed in the door handle.  It was the first (and likely the only) time my remote trailer will ever receive mail.  For the next minute I stood in front of the door imagining a government census taker trekking into the woods, knocking diligently and repeatedly at the door, looking around at the wilderness landscape with no sign of human activity for weeks, but apparently believing that someone must live there full time.   Maybe the census taker assumed I was crouching in fear on the other side of the door, convinced that the 2010 census is just part of a nefarious conspiracy.

“YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW,” it reads on the envelope.  I opened it up and saw the question “Does Person 1 sometimes live or stay somewhere else?” but the form doesn’t have any way to indicate whether or not this trailer is my primary residence.  Hey, I finally I have something in common with wealthy Marylanders.  Only instead of deciding whether I want to be counted at my mansion in Potomac, my yacht at Rock Hall, or my villa in Chevy Chase, I get to choose between my apartment in Takoma with the bent-up metal door and graffiti or my dilapidated trailer in the Appalachian woods with its random patches of silver duct tape.

I finally found the answer to my dilemma after returning to the city and consulting the Web.  “If you have more than one home, completely fill out the form for your primary residence. For the second home, mark “0″ for number of residents and indicate you live elsewhere. Doing that may help avoid costly visits from a census taker.”

What does the census have to do with democracy?  Census data will be used in future government decisions of how to determine the boundaries of my voting district, or even to eliminate or create new ones, depending on the number of people living there.  The data will also be used when decisions are made as to how federal funds will be allocated.  This is why my “response is required by law.”

Presumably my relatively impoverished rural habitat would gain more benefit from claiming me as a resident than Montgomery County, which is already one of the richest counties in the country.  So, can I decide to switch my official residency?  Well, no.  The online guidelines say multiple home owners should be “counted at the residence where they live most of the time.”  Plus, knowingly providing a false answer could earn me a $500 fine.

One more thing I noticed on the form.  “If not returned by mid-April, a census taker will come to your door.”  I picture the hapless worker trudging through the woods again on a rainy April day and knocking earnestly on my trailer door, and then peeking through the window to see if I was hiding under the table wearing a tin foil hat.  I am overcome with pity.  Both of my forms will be in the mail very soon.