A high school teacher once gave me a tip for taking the SAT. She said that if at least one of the multiple choice answers could be eliminated, we should take a guess as opposed to leaving the bubble blank. The reason for this had something to do with losing only a partial point for a wrong answer but gaining a full point for a right answer. Sounds like gambling to me, but apparently wrong answers are better than no answers in certain situations.
Why the hell am I talking about SAT scores when I’m 33? No, I don’t have a teenager. What I do have is a 2010 Census form!
I must admit a little high school ‘tude kicked in when I opened the form and saw that participation is required by law. Flash it back to RHS, when my wardrobe consisted solely of punk tees and knock-off Lip Service stretch pants. I was a real rebel, I tell ya – all "God save the Queen" and whatnot. (Ironic side note: I live 10 miles from my hometown, but John just sold a batch of my old punk tees on EBay to some kid in Japan.)
Being still somewhat subversive, but with a much better wardrobe, my first inclination was to fill out the form with bogus nonsense. I mean, the government has no problem unleashing bogus nonsense on me all the time, why not give some back? I’ll tell you why, because there is actually a penalty.
The penalty, from what I can Google, is this: 13 USC Sec. 221 provides for a $100 fine for not answering the Census and a fine of up to $500 for giving wrong information. I did not pursue the matter far enough to figure out what the “up to” actually involves. I always wondered about “up to” provisions – like the “Curb Your Dog” signs that say “...may face fines up to $200 or 3 days in jail.” Does is depend on the size of the poop? What breed the judge favors? Alright, focus.
All I know is that this flies in the face of SAT wisdom. And my punk instinct...which is pulling my hand toward filling in the “Laotian” box.