Monday, July 5, 2010

It gets worse.

Man! I do a post on the Census, laying out some questions I'd like to see added, and next thing you know, the federal government announces it's going to eliminate the long-form census entirely.

I'm sure there's no causal relationship here. Pretty sure, anyway.

The long-form census--this is the detailed one that gets sent to one in five households--provides the really useful information like mode of travel to work, housing costs for owners and renters, number of households spending over a certain threshold on housing costs, and a bunch of other very useful pieces of information for citizen researchers and academics.

It's the information that lets you prove certain inconvenient truths--that real incomes are stagnating, that more and more people use and need public transit, that housing costs are turning an entire generation into serfs.

The census is also a key historical document. It allows researchers a hundred years from now to reconstruct the basic facts of our time. Abandoning the long-form census is like burning the library at Alexandria. Some bigoted, ideological a-hole does it once and then it's gone forever.

Cancel the census and our age goes dark.

It is very convenient to self-identified conservatives that these facts will no longer be available at any meaningful level. Facts are what people use--have to use--to challenge the status quo, to demonstrate that it's not in fact morning in America. Established power lives on inertia and elite opinion. Reality has a liberal bias. Census data helps us prove this. Without data, it's all just opinion.

Who's to say that the streets aren't full of welfare queens driving their Cadillacs to the gravy train station?

Who's to say that your inability to afford housing is part of a larger trend, and not just a personal failure on your part?

Who's to say?

Without the long-form census... well, nobody.

Just like global warming. Can't prove it conclusively, therefore do nothing.

How's that working out for you?

Collecting proper census data isn't an "issue," the way health care or unemployment insurance or the deficit are issues. Opinions can vary on those, based on the facts available and one's interpretation of those facts. The census is a meta-issue. It is an issue that determines whether we can make informed decisions about other issues.

Write your MP about this.

And get off the goddamn couch and vote during the next election.

3 comments:

  1. its all downhill now, this the least of the slides. but for the sake of your nerves, people are paying attention:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/dont-mess-with-census-statisticians-tell-tories/article1635031/

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  2. Let's see now. . . If I were to print this blog out, stick it in an envelope, and mail it to my MP (postage stamps have a "commitment value" that e-mails can't match), I'd be committing an environmental sin in using black carbon toner in my laser printer.

    Perhaps you should change the appearance of the page. Black on a yellow background has been demonstrated to be the most "readable".

    That, of course, doesn't diminish your point. I no longer take part in "public discussion forums", where the only point of the forum is for the promulgators of an idea to be able to say "we had a public discussion". In 99.8 % of those public discussions, the final decisions have been pre-determined. Such is our political process.

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  3. Well, Anonymous, I would hope that if you're going to print my stuff out you'd do it by copying and pasting it into a word-processing document...

    By the way, you can mail stuff to your MP in Ottawa without using any postage at all. Just sayin'!

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