Friday, July 23, 2010

The Canadian Census Flap

Excellent article, fascinating discussion thread.
Libertarians and the census

The announced reasons for making the 2011 census long form voluntary is that it is 'intrusive' and that it is 'coercive' to make it mandatory. If this were the the position of a principled, reality-based libertarian government, then it would be a powerful argument. But it isn't.
But that's a policy wonk blog. Very perceptive - indeed, perhaps too perceptive to quite grasp the Harper government's essential thinking... to be charitable about it.

From the Globe and Mail:
while many voters won’t notice or care about what happens to the census, “it will resonate deeply with certain swathes of voters by communicating to them that this government shares their suspicion of stats and the pointy-headed, out-of-touch academics who analyze them,” he writes.
Because, for conservative activists and intellectuals, what is “truly infuriating to them is the suspicion that these types of knowledge play a role in actively cultivating non-conservative values and a public philosophy that acknowledges a role for government in addressing and reducing certain structural inequalities of society,” Prof. Saurette writes.

“The less visible these structural issues are, the less likely it is that advocacy groups will be able to persuade Canadians that government programs are necessary. The less government programs seem necessary, the less government itself seems valuable. And the less government itself seems valuable, the more likely it is that conservative market-oriented values and principles can flourish.”
Of course, a conservatism that depends upon being insulated from reality and which takes steps to gut meaningful review of it's policies is barely distinguishable from an autocracy.

I, for one, am beginning to look forward to a federal election.


The author said...

It's interesting that after a couple of hundred years censi are losing favour amongst the new right. There is talk of abandoning it totally in blighty.

Well that would be just at a time when previous censi have become a valuable tool for the ordinary citizen to discover there roots. In previous generations, genealogy was only practised by the ruling classes to establish there droit de seigneur over the hoi polloi. Well with some of the Normans, a little too much droit de seigneur, it turns out that most of the English population is descended in one way or another from William the Conqueror, the randy bugger that he was.

Bob King said...

Heh. Only a little touch of genealogy was required to show that my family were carpetbaggers several times over. I don't think my line is actually descended from William - not, you know, that it would have been politic to say "no" very loudly.

But yeah, the census is a tool for rulers to rule wisely and with regard to the needs of the population and the health and welfare of the Nation.

Neither is of interest to the new brand of tighty-righties. And furthermore, I could easily state the proposition in a way that would cause them to agree with me.

"It is not the purpose of the government to concern itself with the affairs of the people, or to rescue them from misfortunes brought upon them by unwise financial or lifestyle choices."

So much easier to do that if you don't keep track of how much all that non-interference costs.


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