Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Long Form Census

I think everyone has had a chance to air their opinions on the Long Form Census.  All the experts have come around with their arguments about how useful a census is.  I agree with them.  Information is very useful.  Data needs to be collected and analysed to inform the best possible decisions.

The argument has not been made by any politician, bureaucrat or stuffy professor as to why I should be forced to provide this data.  They assume, without providing any information of their own, that compulsory data is going to be more true than voluntary data.

This is the heart of the dispute.  The Census is not going away.  Its only going to be friendlier.  I am much more apt to do my civic duty and answer the questions truthfully if I'm not commanded to do so.  Most people including myself will simply give whatever information will keep us out of trouble.  This doesn't make it true information.
This was my experience with the census.  When asked about my religion, I couldn't respond "blow it out your ass."  Instead I wrote "Jedi."  Am I really a Jedi, at least in faith?  I won't incriminate myself.  

How do they know that issuing threats makes better data?  Threats corrupt data in one way and voluntary data may be corrupt in other ways.  Why not choose the more benign method?  Did these professional bean counters get pushed around in elementary?  I don't get it.  Half the art of marketing is collecting voluntary data.  So much of the research and studies we hear about is based on voluntary data.  I do believe there is quite a large body of knowledge surrounding the uses and methods of analyzing voluntary data.  My personal freedom is worth the expense of a larger sample size and different techniques.

How about we put this into perspective.  Look at the Highway Traffic Act.  Its not about useful information, its about public safety.  Its vigorously enforced and applies to anyone operating a vehicle.  Speed limits are clearly posted on nearly all roads but everyone still speeds.  Even Judges speed.  Even the finger waging Chiefs of Police break the speed limit.  The threat of fines or imprisonment added to the real threat of death  due to speeding doesn't make anyone stop speeding.  Think about that.  How useful could fines or prison possibly be to getting better data?  Not very useful at all.

I read one justification for this bureaucratic bullying to be that poor people don't answer truthfully to voluntary census forms.  If those poor people don't want their privacy violated, then we should take what little money they have or even throw them in jail.  That's the progressive mind at work.  Liberals in the thrall of progressives seem to have been so successful at promoting freedom previously that they now have nothing better to do than return us to tyranny one little law at a time.

I am a proud and free Citizen of this country.  It is my civic duty to voluntarily provide accurate data to Statistics Canada.  Until the Long Form Census becomes voluntary I hereby vow to skew and corrupt all census data that is compelled with threats of fines or prison.  I hope you take this vow with me and I understand if you don't do so publicly.  Your rights are yours alone.  Others may have the power to take them away but they are yours to claim always and forever.


Anonymous said...

Nicely done Alex whoever you are.

Anonymous said...

Right on!

One point of contention though: in general, rights are absolute and cannot be given up or taken away. Yes yes, we restrict the right of freedom of movement for prisoners etc but except in extreme cases, the concept of rights is that they are universal and absolute. They may only be violated or revoked when they interfere with another's right. We violate criminals right to freedom because their continued exercise of that right violates society's right to live free of crime and fear.

Compelling my participation in the census is a violation of my right to privacy. I challenge anybody to find a "more important" right that I am violating by keeping my business to myself. I suspect the only right involved here is the right of other people to the money that I have earned. By the way, just what is somebody else's fair share or what I have earned?

Politicians and bureaucrats do not use census data to make good public policy, they use it to justify their own existence and to grow. Census data is the fertilizer that grows bureaucracies and increases taxes.

Alex said...

Who am I? I'll refect on that when I get a chance. It doesn't seem to matter as long as my arguments are sound. I am who I am. I am who I wish to have been and hope to be better still. I'm also the guy on the right side of the page. I use the royal WE pretty often. Don't let it confuse you.

Thanks Anon #2. Rights are a can of worms. I retain the ultimate authority on everything since the professionals who are supposed to fight for it on one had seem to negotiate it away with the other. The only way to garentee my freedom is to keep under my discretion. If I didn't, some learned gentleman could make the argument that I'm a slave.

CanadianSense said...

The changes are going to protect the wealthy in keeping their privacy. A fine of $ 500 may be an irritant for a person earning $ 300k. For a person earning $ 35k?

Kelly said...

I agree with you Alex (and I love your blog). The data is somewhat corrupt whether you compel people to fill out the form with threat of punishment or whether it is voluntary. My main problem with threatening people is that the government has to pay $$$$$$ to enforce these laws. Nasty bureaucrats are hired to phone, harass, and then charge citizens whose only crime is to not fill out the long form census. What a waste of taxpayers money! We are far better off with an advertising plan to encourage people to fill out the census.

Alex said...

$500! Good luck proving I'm not a Jedi in the first place. "-but I told you. I don't practice because I'm hiding from the Empire... well I was hiding."

Thanks Kelly. I appreciate it. I don't know how awful they really are. I was indeed cornered by one once and I just answered the questions. No need to be awful myself and it was only a few questions. It just bothered me that this particular visitor could punish me for not cooperating. She can't know if I did cooperate even with the threat.

Oh and Anon#1. I thought about it and I'm still the guy the right side of the page ;)

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