Census, here and there - Macleans.ca
 

Census, here and there


 

It’s no small irony that just at a moment in history when we’ve collectively decided to put every last fricking detail of our lives on some social networking site or another, for no reason other than raw narcissism, the government has decided that a survey that any given household will be asked to fill out on average four times a century is just too intrusive, notwithstanding its paramount value to setting public policy of all sorts.

There’s been all sorts of speculation as to just what Harper and his statistically illiterate sockpuppet Tony Clement are up to, but it’s probably not a coincidence that the UK has also decided to scrap its ten-year census (on grounds ranging from “too intrusive” to “too expensive”), and the just-completed census in the US was marked by widespread opposition from both the left and the right, in a counting that saw 379 census workers assaulted. From the right, Ron Paul went on some weirdo tinfoil hat rant against the counting of persons by the federal government, until other, more planet-Earth bound Republicans pointed out that if a bunch of right-wingers abstain from the census, then it will affect seat distribution and lead to a loss of Republican seats in Congress.

But maybe they needn’t have worried. After all, joining the paranoiacs on the right  were a whole bunch of hipsters who were, apparently, too cool to be counted: Williamsburg had a census return rate of only 30 percent. As Gawker suggested:

What if, instead of sending them to everyone’s houses, the forms were available only in select independent record stores… in Norway? And they cost $100 dollars? Guaranteed we’d start reading Thursday Style pieces about the coke-filled underground census-filling-out parties sweeping the more fauxhemian parts of our city. Dude, we’re gonna fill out some cennies Saturday.

But in Canada, that would only work on Queen St. West and maybe parts of the Plateau in Montreal. In the absence of any committed effort by the democracies of the West to count their populations, here’s an idea: Why don’t they just buy Facebook?


 
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Census, here and there

  1. Yeah, Conservatives in all 3 countries have come out against it at the same time. Sounds more ideo-logical than logical to me.

    'Harper and his statistically illiterate sockpuppet Tony Clement' ….that's for sure!

  2. Maybe they should just collect the census data in the Tim Horton's. They're the only real Canadians anyway.

    • Except Timmies won't have accurate information for where to allocate franchises anymore. The humanity!

      • Of course they will.

        Is that a street corner I see? Yes.
        Is there a Timmy's there already? No.

        Set up a franchise!!

        • This will inevitably lead to Starbucks and Timmies in the same store, which is the best thing that'll happen to national unity since people outside Quebec learned of poutine.

    • Roll up the rim & count yourself in!

  3. Yup. Let's scrap the Census entirely. The government has no business knowing who, where, or what I am. It's my right to move freely about the country, and to keep my existence private if I want. They have no business knowing how much money I made last year, they have no business knowing how many times I got sick, they have no business knowing that my apartment building is falling apart.

    Roads should only be built by the people who want to live on them. Hospitals should only be built when old ones are falling down. Schools should only be built when children are stuffed inside classrooms. Language services should only be offered when someone tries to ask a question of a government representative in a language other than English or French. Children's aid and the police services should have no idea how many kids live in at-risk communities; municipal social housing directors should have no idea how many units they'll need next year until more people end up homeless.

    • While we're at it, since the government shouldn't be knowing any of this information about anyone, how can it run any programs? How can it justify, therefore, collecting any taxes? And since when should I be responsible for judging who's guilty and who's not? Isn't that a judge's job?

      • Well there you are…'govt so small you can drown it in a bathtub'.

        Libertarianism writ large.

      • We aren't allowed to know what our government is up to, so they shouldn't be allowed to know what we are up to either.

        • That's a good point. I have no idea how or why decisions are made, so I'm just going to ignore the government from now on. I won't even vote.

          • Decisions are made by unaccountable socialist mandarins bent on destroying your way of life.

            *checks his handbook*

            Yup, it's best not to vote. You just loan legitimacy to the liberal/progressive machine that is looking to enslave your way of life.

    • All schools should be charter schools and built with the students own hands so they learn about life. The free market will provide.

    • LynnTO

      Is the census the only way for government and/or regular people to know that building is crumbling? Surely there is better way to repair buildings that are falling apart than wait every ten years for census.

      Also, do you ever wonder how our ancestors managed to build schools or roads or buildings before the long census was introduced in 1971?

      • I'm not so thick as to pretend that the data doesn't (and didn't) exist elsewhere. I argue that:

        a) the Census (short and long-form) is the most reliable source of data, because it's the most comprehensive and far-reaching, as well as methodologically reliable; and

        b) is the most cost-efficient method, as it is able to tie particular variables (individuals in household) with other variables (ethnic origin and education and work status) without having to merge, clean, de-duplicate, and weight other data sources together to form a patchwork quilt of information (as opposed to an afghan, where one or two strings tie the lot together).

  4. The Conservatives are just trying to be consistent. They don't use evidence or information for any of their decisions, why should anyone else?

  5. Of course all the people who think the individual exists for the benefit of the State are outraged. After all how can we increase the involvement of the Government in all aspects of our lives unless we "voluntarily" tell them everything about ourselves.

    The other problem these hysterical socialists have is that the Government's change to the long form was one of the three options put forward by Statistics Canada, who also advised it would not affect the integrity of the data. Of course even knowing this will not satisfy critics who like the idea of a government forcing people to surrender any claim to the individual having rights.

    • It's not for the benefit of the state, it's for our benefit.

      And StatsCan did no such thing.

      • Yes they did Emily. They were asked by the Government to give options and they gave three.

    • I don't know where you live (somewhere in BC, I assume ) but I will soon step out of my Toronto office, Robin, and walk to Union Station. During that 15 minute-walk, at least a dozen hidden cameras will capture my image. These are not government cameras. These are cameras put up by various private organizations, without my authorization, and I have no idea what they do with their films.

      Why in this day and age of information gathering by private enterprise using barcodes, hidden cameras, consumer data exchange, etc. is it so much of an intrusion to answer 60 questions from government three times in your lifetime? That's what I don't understand. Nobody is getting my permission to film me when I bank or when I walk down the street.

      I'm an old woman – maybe if I were young I would be a libertarian – but I don't hate government as an automatic reflex.

      • Walking on a public street does not give you a right to not be photographed by anyone. Can't you see the difference from that and someone coming into your home and demanding information?

        • "Walking on a public street does not give you a right to not be photographed by anyone"

          Well, that's an interesting argument. And, while true, it's not really the point, is it? Any tourist could take picture of, say, Habitat, and glimpse you with their lens. Blammo, you're on flickr. Oh, the horror. Whereas, in your weird weltanschauung…

          "at least a dozen hidden cameras will capture my image. These are not government cameras. These are cameras put up by various private organizations, without my authorization, and I have no idea what they do with their films."

          …is perfectly okay? And it's okay because:

          "… the long form was one of the three options put forward by Statistics Canada."

          Good glory, you're tiresome.

          • What is tiresome is the ineffectual arguments people like you make to justify Government involvement in more and more areas of individual lives. None of the claimed benefits of the long form data stand up to analysis. They are unnecessary unless you plan for ever increasing Government "programs".
            You're supposed to grow up not use Government as a replacement for "mummy and daddy". But then again, you like that don't you?

        • With a threat no less. Short Form, which ask questions necessary for governing is still mandatory. Only the long form, which serves special interest groups, political parties, and other private sector in manipulating those datas to herd us, are made voluntary.

    • : pulls string :
      the Government's change to the long form was one of the three options put forward by Statistics Canada

      : pulls string :
      the Government's change to the long form was one of the three options put forward by Statistics Canada

      : gets bored :

  6. It's weird that The Economist has just commented on the decline of the traditional census at this time.
    http://www.economist.com/node/16590962

    Apparently the Nordic countries started this trend of doing something other than sending out a bunch of forms to everyone. I'm honestly baffled by whether this fact makes the whole idea "libertarian" or not. The kicker, though, is that shedding the census seems to be motivated, in part, by the observation that "we already have all the data." Not exactly reassuring for the privacy-concerned.

    • A very interesting article that one. The Economist is by far my favorite read these days in terms of news.
      Reading that article made me think: maybe the CPC is doing this thinking they want to do what the Scandinavian countries are doing.
      In that case I have no qualms about scrapping the census, but at least say that's it's because there are more efficient ways of doing it not because you're worried about what people think!

  7. What a stupid and uninformed blog!

    Ron Paul argued that the Census should just do what it was authorized and meant to do, count heads! Not log the racial background of the resident! Does the sex, race or background of the residents affect the seat count?!

    BTW, census information was used to round up Japanese-Americans into internment camps during WWII.

    • Are you seriously suggesting that the government would not have been able to round up Japanese-Americans as easily without the census?

    • So were guns and racism.

  8. It's not narcissism to want to stay in touch with old friends and colleagues – can you change that intro to better reflect that and not insult everyone on social media platforms please?

    I'd like to share this story with others but that fiction/hatred of social media is preventing me from sharing it with others.

    Dude you are a blogger, you are one of us and if it is narcissism you want what the hell do you think you are doing here if not narcissism writ large?

    Come one let's be fair here. Thanks if you can.

    • you guys negating me are weird and anti-social. IE a danger to everyone else.

    • Every sinking Titanic needs someone to complain about the tablecloths, I guess.

    • Dude you are a blogger, you are one of us and if it is narcissism you want what the hell do you think you are doing here if not narcissism writ large?

      *chuckles* Yeah, most of us commenting here have an element of self-importance to us. But, most of the time, we think we have something to contribute to the conversation.

      In any event, it may not be narcissism, but it's certainly a bit rich to say it's okay to provide your information to a credit-card company who sells it at a profit for solicitors to use at will, but say that it's not okay to provide your information to the government, whose programs like Phonebusters and such help to protect consumers from the illegitimate use of their personal information.

  9. i`ve said it before and i`ll say it again-anyone who believes that Ron Paul argued that people should not comply with the census and be counted, please stand up and remove yourselves from conversation because you are woefully misinformed-this especially goes to the author of this piece

  10. My goodness, must now all civilized nations govern themselves in the pitch dark?!?

    How will we ever again be able to trust any statistical information produced in Britain when they won't even have a mandatory census against which to correct the results.

    This. Is. A. Disaster.

    • Do you only pick what you want to hear and read? The short form is still mandatory only the long form which has nothing to do with governing is being made voluntary.

  11. >In the absence of any committed effort by the democracies of the West to count their populations

    I think we can manage that with a fairly short form.

    Organizations find it useful to mine data – how surprising. It doesn't mean I have a duty to provide it to them.

  12. Hi Mr. Potter. You sir, are a useless f^&king idiot.

  13. But will it affect the poll numbers? Will it? WILL IT? Let's focus on what's really important here folks! All kidding aside, this is just another one of those little things that piles up on top of all the other little things that Harper can't help himself doing, thereby enforcing a ceiling on himself and preventing a majority.