Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Determining the value of human commodity: May 16th is Census Day

2006 is a census year in Canada. Every five years the government here spends vast amounts of your money to gather personal information which will be used against you in upcoming purges. Canadians are increasing warned of the dangers of identity theft, and yet it is mandatory by law, that one adult per household fill out the 2006 census form asking for personal information which includes the sexual preferences of those in the household, their income, their religion, race and ethnicity, childcare choices, education level and occupational habits. One in five households are burdened with a longer questionnaire than others.

Statistics Canada assures you that all information submitted will remain confidential for at least 92 years. All employees and private contractors involved, which includes Lockheed Martin Canada, IBM and Transcontinental Printing Canada, are under oath to ensure the security of the information submitted, and they promise they will do their best not to get caught if they break their oath of secrecy.

StatsCan is actively encourging mandatory reponses via the internet rendering null and void the following safety assurance as most people use Microsoft windows and many other respondents besides will submit their responses using public computers:
The systems and networks used to collect and process confidential data are not connected to any external networks, and are physically isolated from the outside.
The massive cost involved in the collection and compilation of the data is estimated at $567 million which includes the hiring of more than 25,000 full and part-time census workers, and
$13 million for advertising for the May 16 census, including billboards, bookmarks, inserts in municipal tax bills, and ads on bags of sugar and milk cartons.
Even worse is that the government considers those that fail to comply as criminals. Although StatsCan has changed its collection strategy this time around, the fact remains that the threat of force for non-compliance is nonetheless present. If the expectation of entitlements is low and the guilt factor of the prospective participants similarly low, the remaining incentive is to "gently" remind people that failure to respond is against the law.

From the official Census Canada website:
In fact, the census is so important that, by law, you must complete your questionnaire.
However, by and large, this year's marketing scheme attempts to persuade you to fill out the form "Because there's so much in it for YOU and your community." It helps them decide how to redistribute the stolen loot.
Census information is also used to plan important public services including:

* health care
* education
* transportation
* day-care
* fire and police protection
* employment and training programs
* subsidized housing

[..] You and your family benefit from the census. When you “Count Yourself In”, it means better information to plan services for your community such as day care centres, seniors’ housing, fire and police protection, transportation and employment and training programs.

Don’t forget, there is also a law in Canada that says you must complete your census questionnaire. The same law also protects the confidentiality of the information you provide.
Statistics Canada has revamped its advertising strategy for the May 16 census after a study found that Canadians got annoyed with proposed ads saying they're legally required to fill out census forms. That's a seismic shift from deferential attitudes a decade ago, when Canadians told pollsters they wanted to know all about their legal obligations to co-operate.

A focus-group survey from last September, which questioned groups in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, found that draft ads reminding Canadians about the census law served only to provoke people.

"When told about the legal requirement to complete the census, many participants were incredulous, and openly voiced the strong belief that such a law, if it exists at all, would be toothless, or devoid of any real possibility of sanction or penalty," says a survey report obtained by The Canadian Press.

[..] However, the survey by Patterson Langlois Consultants also found that participants were far more concerned about a pesky Statistics Canada worker knocking at the door should they fail to file their census forms.

"While few participants attach any fear or motivational value to the threat of legal sanctions for failing to complete the census, the notion of this failure provoking a home visit was more widely considered a motivator."

[..] The initial flurry of newspaper, radio and TV ads now will avoid mention of the legal requirement, she said in an interview. Instead, reference to the census law will be highlighted only in ads appearing after census day on May 16, to capture late filers.

And the revamped ads will remind Canadians that persistent census staff will be contacting tardy households.
And a door in the face will be awaiting any meddling bureaucrats that step onto my property.

The MANY intrusive questions for the 2006 census can be read here, along with reasons given by StatsCan for asking the questions.

Andrew Irvine, professor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, writing during the last census year, examines some of the questions. From 2001:
After completing the form, I began to wonder. Is there anything the government believes it doesn't have a right to know about me? Are there any limits that it feels obliged to impose upon itself when asking questions of its citizens? In a democracy, should it simply be assumed that the government has a right to ask us anything?

One worry is about the mandatory disclosure of living arrangements.

[..] Another worry concerns race. Of the fifty-seven questions involving so-called "sociocultural information"", several are about race, ethnicity and ancestry. In them, careful distinction is made between West Asian, Southeast Asian, Japanese, Korean and Chinese socioculturnal groups. Yet no similar distinctions exist for people whose ancestors originated in either Africa or Europe. Here, Black and White are the only choices. Not only are such categories notoriously vague and subjective, they also have no basis in scientific fact.

Defenders of these kinds of questions might argue that this information helps the government to provide services to its citizens in their languages of choice. But if this is the intent, earlier questions specifically about language would have been sufficient.

Instead, as we are told on the census form itself, this information "is collected to support programs that promote equal opportunity for everyone to share in the social, cultural and economic life of Canada."

Yet this is hardly an incentive for many people to complete these questions. Canada's so-called Employment Equity laws long ago adopted the Orwellian practice of building lies into their very names. Instead of promoting equal opportunity, these laws provide incentives for employers to treat different groups of citizens differently. Citizens are thus placed in the position of being required by law to provide information they know to be false, thereby supporting programs they know to be harmful.

A university colleague once told me that he believed he could discover who the most powerful social groups were at any time in Canadian history. All he had to do was read the tax code. There, within a single document, is a record of every successful lobby group and, by omission, a record of every unsuccessful one as well. If it turns out that farmers had more political influence than factory workers during the 1950s, this inevitably shows up in the form of tax concessions of various kinds during that period. If it turns out that film companies are today more powerful than farmers, this will once again be reflected in the tax code.
I'm with Drizzten: "Fuck Them"- make sure you read Drizzten's reaction to the forceful invasion of individual privacy in the US. 2006 is also a census year in the US, and the United States Census Bureau is sending out the forms, followed by letters a week later, reminding citizens that it is mandatory by law to fill out and submit the survey.
Oh I get it, you shitheels. You think you can intimidate people into divulging basic information about their lives. You understand that without that threat, lots of people would see the packet and toss it away without a second thought. You may not explicitly say it, but you are aware that you can push around someone by the mere mention that they'd be lawbreakers! if they do not comply. You and I are well aware that even factoring in today's citizens' diminished respect for government authority, you can still cow people with talk of them acting against the law.

[..] Furthermore, there is no way I'm going to provide accurate data on how much stolen wealth is to be redistributed around the country: "Results from the 2010 Census will be used to help each community get its fair share of government funding." It's bad enough the systematic government robbery of my income occurs. But to take it and then use it to fund a survey that I'm required to fill out in order to determine the recipients of future theft?


Pete said...

Your paranoia is only slightly amusing. I hope that enough people ignore your calls and the census goes forward successfully.

Daniel said...

Wouldn't it make more sense to falsify your answers in order to encourage the kind of government abuses that are preferable to you compared to other kinds of government abuses?

Pietr said...

Never mind the Pete and Daniel social prefect show(you antisocial rotters); what does the Canadian Brainslug Corporation say?

Honey Pot said...

I always lie, and say I am rich. I just chose any ethnicity. Sometimes I just make up one. I didn't think anyone bothered reading the dam things anyway. I bet lots of people lie on the census. I always lie on the telephone surveys too, soon as you say you have money, everyone seems to be nicer to you. The thought of being jailed doesn't bother me. I think that would be the ultimate vacation. You could just lay there all day and read. Always some sort of convict groupies running out to get you the best new books.

Anonymous said...

Dear Pete

Thanks for having our back.

Your government cheque is safe as long as
we have anything to say about it.

Your pals,

MapMaster said...

Sorehead, I think you miscontrue Daniel's remarks. I'm taking the liberty here, of course, but I'm quite sure he's just pointing out the state's self-serving rationalizations in promoting and expanding its abuses. The whole thing's a social scientist's wet dream that deserves the mockery of falsifying the results — which is exactly what I plan to do if I get one. Not that it's going to do any good — government programs and social scientist engineering plans are hardly going to be any more efficient or palusible with correct information than with incorrect information — but at least I won't be in jail. But $500 million or so is a lot to pay to justify their amusements.

But I'm very curious why anyone apart from a bureaucrat or a social scientist would really hope that the census goes forward successfully?

Anonymous said...

But I'm very curious why anyone apart from a bureaucrat or a social scientist would really hope that the census goes forward successfully?

Aggrieved special interest groups are hoping that the census will prove how terribly downtrodden and deprived they are. Actually that's crap. They're hoping that the census will demonstrate to politicians how powerful they are, and how much the politicians must fear them and kowtow to them with government money and other favors. Hence, the racist breakdown of Asians into various ethnic blocks, the probing questions about sexual preference, child care needs, etc. It is the constant, desperate search for an electorally concentrated group of swing voters.

What if all freedom-loving Canadians decided to promote the idea in the blogosphere, to spam the census? A more satisfying and effective protest than to wave the Red Ensign, methinks.

Lisa said...

Let the spamfest begin!

MapMaster said...

Well said, Anonymous! Of course.

I like your idea. I'll email some of the other bloggers I know and see if we can bang our heads together to produce a few sparks.

Mike said...

I have no problem with flat out enumerating people, but I don't believe in these curious, primitive ideas about "races". I'm not going to pretend along with the census that these are meaningful distinctions among people.

"Homo sapiens sapiens" is my race, just like the rest of you, and that's what my census form will say, just like last time. The time before that it was "Doberman".

Do not assist in the racist project of enumerating people into breeds, as if we were dogs in a show. If it's really so important to the government for some reason to know how many Jews live in your neighbourhood, then let the Bureau of Racial Metrics and Ethnoscopy send their technicians out to assess your racial profile.

Pietr said...

Doberman? So that's why there was a new dog-house in the railway station last time I visited London.
By the way, I just love the way they treat people like sheep at the station.

rhebner said...

We only got the long form once, and actually it was quite a hoot making up answers... 9 kids, never married, wife is from Greenland, that sort of stuff.

But Canadians being Canadians, I'm sure most of us fill it out dutifully and truthfully

Pietr said...

The Census emblem at the top of the article is Blue-ist.
It is obviously Conservaphobic as there is no colour blue shown anywhere.
This is, of course, deliberate.

DiaGnostic said...

On census I always say the truth and now I know that my assumtion was right. I knew most of the people would lie and so do the government census people. Therefore they assume the answers are lies and I really screw them up big time.

Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone who excersized their god given right as a free human being to piss and/or shit on the census (or just not answer). Death to Statistics Canada.

Anonymous said...

Lisa, thanks for this post. The Census is another perfect example of government violence towards Canadians.