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Copyright 1996 The New York Times Company
The New York Times

March 12, 1996, Tuesday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Page 20; Column 4; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 150 words

HEADLINE: Forget the Census; Let's Have Doughnuts

To the Editor:

Re "No Need to Count Every Last Person" (editorial, March 5): The Census Bureau's decision to "sample" during the next census means that it will count only 90 percent of the population rather than all of it.

Your suggestion that this plan will "improve the accuracy of the census" reminded me of a headmaster at a prestigious boarding school who, when presented with a school poll showing that 44 percent of the student body smoked marijuana, demanded to know the polling technique used by the school newspaper.

When told that every single student had been polled, the headmaster said: "No wonder the number is so high. Real polling firms don't reach every person. You had better do the poll again. Only this time, just take a random sampling of the student body." The logic behind the Census Bureau's decision is about as sound.

New York, March 5, 1996