Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Sense and Cents of the Census

Here's a link to the 2006 long census form.  It's 40 pages and probably takes 30-45 minutes to fill out for a family.  That's not the issue here, the time.

The issue I had with it in 2001, in 2006, and now 2011 is not so much the intrusive personal questions it asks, because many people fill out forms, surveys, polls, etc., but it's that the government can PUT YOU IN JAIL for not filling it out.

And that right there is why I think it's the right decision.

While the majority of Canadians don't care about this issue, because the majority of Canadians don't have to fill out the form, it's pissing off statisticians, bureaucrats, and some Liberals because they won't be able to determine how federal cash should be handed out through the, what, thousands of programs that are out there?

Now what if there was no data to support the need for these programs?  That's right, there'd be no need for these programs.  And without need for these programs, the government can axe the program and either let a province support it, or let it die.  And you wouldn't believe some of the programs out there.

If any of you remember the old "Waste Report" published by then Reform Party MP, John Williams, and compiled by my friend Garry Keller, his executive assistant, you'd recall that it was an incredible piece of literature, listing the various funding programs the federal government supports, including American unions, seniors and sexuality in prisons, and an ongoing list of programs and dollar amounts where common sense really just doesn't apply anymore.  Regardless, estimates are in the $10-20 billion in funding for these so-called programs.

Some argue that charities would suffer.  Well, if I didn't pay as much in taxes, I would easily donate more and it would be MY choice.  And it's not really a charity anymore when the government is supporting it.  It's a social program, plain and simple.  So if we could rid useless programs and lower taxes, Canadians, ON OUR OWN, could support charities, community groups, and local programs.

Now, for this issue, which it really isn't, the long form is NOT being scrapped.  It will now be voluntary.  Statisticians are saying that the data sample then won't be useful.

Exactly.  And therefore, it makes sense to save cents on the census.


Jeff said...

Hear, hear. Well said Hatrock.

The_Iceman said...

As a mathematician who intends on using census data for future published works, I'd like as much data as possible.

I promise I will use the data for a positive end... :)

Ardvark said...

Canadian justice.

Threat of jail for not answering personal questions vs no jail time for this: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2010/07/15/calgary-magomadova-sentence-strangled-daughter.html

Anonymous said...

As a family historian, I would also like more data in the official census. They should never have made release in 92 years optional. Taking out key data like ethnic origin and religion will make it almost impossible for future Canadians to find their families in large cities if they have a common name. The survey is more controversial, but removing it from the census is really a set-back. I think perhaps they should cut it back to what is important to ask. There needs to be a lot more dialogue. The government should not make it a crime to avoid answering really personal questions that are re-sold (in aggregate) to private marketing firms below cost. This action was not well analyzed.


maryT said...

After all this hassle, I think the next census, voluntary or mandatory will get a lot of weird answers to questions other than name, age, birthday, citizenship. Wonder what new religion will show up.
As for race, religion and earnings or where you work, talk to survivors of the DEATH CAMPS and ask them, where did the Nazis get the data on who was jewish, where they lived, family members and their property.
It was a survivor who told my dad many years ago it was from the census and I have never forgot.