Sometimes it takes a little while for the illogic to sink in

I’m in San Francisco on a fairly regular basis, which has given me ample time to see, repeatedly, ads on the side of MUNI buses.  I can’t remember the wording, since I only see these ads for instants at a time, but they pretty much say, “Fill out the census, so that we know how many buses we need.”  I’ve hated the ad since I first saw it but, as I said, I only saw it in microseconds driving by and, until yesterday, couldn’t put my finger on the flaw in it.

Then, it hit me:  the number of buses needed is driven by the number riders, not by number of citizens.  No matter the number of citizens, if they’re not taking the bus, you don’t need new ones.  MUNI’s own ridership statistics should be driving bus purchases or disposal.  If MUNI is relying on the census to determine the size of its fleet (sort of a bus quota), it’s yet another government organization that is not functioning at maximum efficiency.

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  • suek

    We haven’t received a census form of any kind as yet.
    My husband _did_ receive another jury notification yesterday.  I think he has a star by his name – or maybe this is an obscure way of taking some sort of census count…

  • Indigo Red

    I don’t get to SF often though I live just east of Sacramento. I heard the bus bit on the radio and thought the same thing – quantity of busses is related to ridership, not population.

    Suek – I received one census form, my brother got two while his wife got one, and Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs reports that she had four census forms sent to her.  I don’t recall the census ever having such a problem, not even when I worked for the agency.

  • Spartacus

    It’s their whole approach this year that gets under my skin.  Maybe they’ve done this before, but I don’t remember it, and I certainly don’t think it was this shamelessly blatant.
    Averse though I may be to almost all instances of government advertising — using our own money to tell us what to think and do, often bleeding over into self-promotion and policy choice advocacy — I could just about handle a Ward-and-June-Cleaver-esque couple looking squarely and patriotically into the camera and saying, “Please be sure to send in your census form… it’s part of good citizenship!”  Instead, they focus on bribing us with our own money, — “Get more money for your community!” — as if that were the greatest of greater goods.  As if all government is even supposed to be is a giant weath-transfer scheme.  Even given that there is transfer of wealth, it just seems extraordinarily crass and insulting even to bring it up in the advertising.
    And maybe that’s hypocritical of me.  Perhaps we really have descended into a civic cesspool where duty, honor and country have been displaced by materialistic identity politics, and there is virtue in honestly embracing that reality.  But I can’t help but believe that openly and non-judgmentally pushing the unseemly side recalibrates our civic culture at a lower level than it was before.

  • Jose

    Has anyone seen the new census ad that states if your community has grown smaller, you may get a tax cut?

    Nope?  Neither have I.

  • Jose

    “grown smaller”  duh.

  • Charles Martel

    It is possible to grow smaller. George Costanza referred to it as “shrinkage.”

  • David Foster

    Maybe they’re viewing the current bus ridership as the Served Industry Market (SIM) and the total population as the Potential Industry Market (PIM). Usually, one attempts to expand one’s SIM up toward the PIM by doing things like product/service improvement, better marketing, etc….I suspect that in this case, some form of coercion may be intended.

  • 11B40

    There’s a similar but different bit of misguided Census advertising on the radio in the San Francisco Bay area.
    The gist is that citizens have to fill out the Census and send it in or our governing elites won’t know how many teachers we need for our school kids.  I guess counting the students is not an option.  The advertising does support the “For the Kids” manipulation as well as the “This is how stupid we need you be be” approach.