You see there once was a story about two people – Mary and Joseph – who had to travel to a small city – Bethlehem – for the taking of a Roman census. On the way there Mary had a little baby boy – named Jesus – in a manger. And the shepherds flocked to see this baby boy. And Magi came and delivered gifts. Thus born was the religion many people are familiar with – Christianity. The Roman census approach is intimately entwined with the birth of Christianity.
The bible's account of Roman census' is seemingly not accurate.
EDIT: Actually, no, the censors went from house to house: https://history.stackexchange.com/a/23980
Sorry for that rant, but this is pretty cool.
I'd say the last couple hundred years has been a little different than the previous several thousand. We are smarter. Agricultural improvement mean that far more of our population is free to deal with scientific or technical problems, as opposed to laboring in the fields to meet basic needs. A greater percentage of our people are literate. life expectancy is up. Our perspective on the world is greater.
Why does this matter? I often hear climate deniers (and similar people) claim that humans have been on earth building cities for thousands of years, that what we are doing now is iterative and therefore any exponential changes cannot be attributed to our impact. But we are new. Current generations are exceptional in almost every way. We need to understand that while we are linked to the past, we are definitely not a mere iteration of it. To quote Lord Dracula in the new BBC miniseries: "You seem to be accelerating."
We’re the most capable. “Smartest” is ambiguous. But we have more people working more productively on more problems than the Romans did. And we’re finding new solutions faster and more broadly.
Roman administration was ahead of its time. It serves as great precedent. But a single agency of modern bureaucracy outclasses the Roman Republic or Empire on almost every metric.
We have efficiencies of scale that they could never realize just due to our population size. Or course, we also have new problems due to that scale. We'd have a lot less to worry about in terms of wild habitat loss and CO2 emissions in a world with in a world with 20x fewer people.
And today it is known that the story about anybody having to travel somewhere else to be counted for census was constructed to “explain” how somebody called “from Nazareth” could “fulfil the prophecy” that expected of the “messiah” to be born in Bethlehem. Even in these times it had no sense: people were counted there where they lived (i.e. “contributed to the economy”).
Weirdly, the reference to the story of the birth of Jesus undermines the article's point. It's an example of the people going to the census taker to be counted, when the entire idea of the rest of the piece is that the census taker goes to the people instead.