You're a VIP – very important person.

You might not think so as you go through your everyday activities trying to scratch out a good life for you and your family.

But this week, especially, your government needs you to step up and be counted.

Every household in the U.S. has, or will be, receiving their 2010 Census questionnaire form in the mail.

It's sure to get your attention, because stamped, in black bold letters on the envelope, are the words "Your response is required by law."

It's not painful. It's not time consuming (it takes about 10 minutes to complete), and the resonses are confidential and protected by law, not to be shared with anyone. And it won't cost you a cent.

A cover letter will explain everything and the questions will be basic. The government wants to know how many people are living in your home, whether you own or rent your living quarters, your sex, age, and date of birth, your race.

Now that might not seem that important to you, but it is to the government. If you fail to fill out your form in time, and don't mail it back, a census taker will be coming to your door sometime this summer to ask you the same questions on the form. It costs the government an average of $57 to send a census taker to each door, so by mailing back your form in time, you'll be saving taxpayers money.

The information counted in the form affects all kinds of government - from how many seats Pennsylvania occupies in the U.S. House of Representatives, to how much money your community is going to get to fund essentials such as schools, fire departments, police and government agencies, roads, and health care.

There's nothing new about the Census. It's been going on since 1790, when about 4 million people were counted. This year the number will be 300 million. It's mandated by the U.S. Constitution.

What makes you important is that every individual is taken into account. If you and your neighbors fail to fill out a form – fail to be counted – this will affect negatively on your community.

So sit down at the kitchen table, take out a pen and fill in the questionnaire. You'll be doing yourself, and your community a great service.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com