The continuing tyranny of collective self-government -

The continuing tyranny of collective self-government

Note: You can still go to jail for not filling out the census


Bert Easterbrook of New Westminster, BC has apparently been charged for refusing to fill out the 2011 census.

Easterbrook told CBC News he “finds it sickening that a tax-paying citizen has to choose between a three-month prison sentence and willingly giving personal, private information.”

Of course, at least until someone is actually put in prison for refusing to fill out the census, it is a mostly theoretical threat. Mr. Easterbrook also objects to Lockheed Martin’s involvement and he notes that other federal departments already have information about him, but the non-census models of Scandinavia might raise even greater concerns about privacy.

It was, of course, a concern about the threat of jail that was part of the explanation for doing away with a mandatory long-form census. Thing is, the Harper government did not remove the threat of prison from the short-form census. The Liberals proposed to maintain mandatory long-form and short-form censuses without either including the threat of jail time—failure to fill out either could have still resulted in a fine of up to $500—but the government rejected that approach. What we are left with then is a short-form census that still carries a threat of prison and a National Household Survey that produces less useful datacosts more to conduct and has been discounted by the planners of this country’s biggest city.

However empty it might be, the threat of jail is probably excessive and could probably be withdrawn, and perhaps we could have a debate too about the questions asked, but probably we also have to accept at some point that so long as we’re interested in maintaining democratic self-government we will have some level of responsibility to each other and it would be best if we had reliable data to guide our decisions about the future course of our country.


The continuing tyranny of collective self-government

  1. You’re expecting logic??

  2. Please, Aaron … if you’re really trying to make sense of a
    nonsensical situation, well, just stop it,okay …

  3. Oddly enough, the best way to handle it was to let people think there was a chance of going to jail but essentially never enforcing it – in part because it was what was going on before. By giving people the idea its bad and that you shouldn’t fill it out in the first place and letting them know that nothing bad will come of it, the data gets even further mixed up, I would think. Even if (when?) the next government returns to a better method of collecting data, that could be a lasting problem.

  4. So, the liberals claim that, if I refused to fill out the form, they would fine me $500. And, pray tell, what would they do if I refused to pay the fine, as well? The census needs to know this much, and nothing more: how many, how old, and what sex. Beyond that, they can go pound sand.

    • See? When you can’t get good info from statistics (what data the government needs) our knowledge of civic needs (what happens when you don’t pay a fine) falters. It’s a little more direct in this guys example, but you get the picture :)

      (Also the irony that the info the guy was asked to provide really isn’t that much more than B-G outlines).

    • Yeah, I mean who needs all that municipal planning? Just throw transit, highways and hospitals wherever you feel like they’re needed.

      And social programs? No need to fine-tune those, or budget in advance! Just throw money at the problems after they occur, if any is available.

      • And my ancestry and skin color helps them plan that exactly how? Most governments couldn’t plan an orgy in a whorehouse, so just explain to me a little more succinctly how knowing much of the personal minutiae that the government demands from us via the census is of any value EXCEPT to feed the expansionist desires of those who worship at the altar of statism.
        I believe strongly in starving the beast that is big government. Undermining the census until it gets trimmed back to the bare essentials- how many, how old, what sex- is one avenue.

        • This reduces to an anti-science argument. You don’t like results so attack the gathering of data. What next? Ban thermometers to prevent global warming action?

        • Also, please elucidate why age and sex are essential characteristics to record, but nothing else is. How are age and sex different/special?

        • I think they should collect data on how much tin foil the tin foil hat crowd uses in a year. How many use it, how old are they and how much more, or less, is used between small, medium or large hats.

    • Do you also refuse to pay your taxes?

      There are bounds on what society should reasonably be expected to tolerate in terms of senseless obstinacy by cantankerous individuals.

      • We know with complete certainty that regardless of how much planning resources we make available, governments will routinely plan and execute poorly. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon us to work to ensure that they work on a shoestring, if only to reduce waste and corruption. You want less waste? Reduce the resources available to waste. You want less corruption? Reduce the potential for corruption by shrinking the number of opportunities and the size of the potential rewards by shrinking the resources available. This is simple stuff, here. If government routinely f___s up (as they do) do what you can to reduce the number of f___ups they can inflict on us.

        • If you want a nice low tax, low government interference jurisdiction, I hear Somalia is the place to be.

          Do you refuse to pay your taxes? Or are you just being a hypocrite?

          • Actually, Somalia is an Islamist theocracy where the government is as pervasive as it ever was in the Soviet Union. Different, but very much the same.
            Why don’t you do for yourself what you appear to want government to do for you? And, if a socialist utopia is what you’re hankering for, why don’t you look into moving to Sweden?

      • You forgot puddin’ butt.

  5. ” but probably we also have to accept at some point that so long as we’re
    interested in maintaining democratic self-government we will have some
    level of responsibility to each other and it would be best if we had
    reliable data to guide our decisions about the future course of our
    country.” Tsk, tsk Aaron — you’re making too much sense here. What about the Conservative approach of just doing the thing that “feels good”?