Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Line By Line Rebuttal of the Arguments to Make Long Form Census Voluntary

Argument 1: The Long-Form census invades our privacy.
Rebuttal: That is an argument for canceling the Long-Form, not making it voluntary. Making it voluntary skews the bias and decreases the reliability of the data.

Argument 2: The data is available from other sources.
Rebuttal: That is an argument for canceling the Long-Form, not making it voluntary. Making it voluntary skews the bias and decreases the reliability of the data.

Argument 3: Only the nutso left is interested in the long form data so that they can form stupid big-government policies.
Rebuttal: That is an argument for canceling the Long-Form, not making it voluntary. Making it voluntary skews the bias and decreases the reliability of the data.

Argument 4: People complain damn it!
Rebuttal: That is an argument for canceling the Long-Form, not making it voluntary. Making it voluntary skews the bias and decreases the reliability of the data.

Argument 5: It is too expensive to enforce compliance.
Rebuttal: That is an argument for canceling the Long-Form, not making it voluntary. Making it voluntary skews the bias and decreases the reliability of the data.

In case the point has not been made, to justify making it voluntary, you also have to justify making the data less accurate. There you go, you have your marching orders.

UPDATER:  And proving my point for me, we have the NCC!

5 comments:

Ken Breadner said...

I think even the most paranoid right-wingnut realizes that you can't just scrap the thing altogether without raising holy hell. So they're doing the next best thing.

Catelli said...

Next best? Maybe from a political standpoint. Not from a logical standpoint.

It's weasel politics that doesn't help anything and makes things worse.

Christopher Parsons said...

I still think that the decision to drop the mandatory requirements for the census are more indicative of a position in the government - and perhaps a fear during potential election periods of blowback like in the US to the census - to make significant domestic changes without genuinely engaging with the parliament.

I get that people dislike the census. I also have a healthy concern that when the 'special interests' that are lining up to note their concern about the loss of the census are often groups providing social welfare aren't exactly the marketing scum that we normally associate with 'special interests'. We're talking about academics looking to do their research (and, despite what people tend to think, not to screw the public but to actual contribute to, and assist, their fellows), hospitals looking to plan for the future, epidemiologists, and so forth.

We don't have many obligations as citizens of Canada; we're not even required to vote. Filling out a census doesn't strike me as either horrifically invasive of Canadians' privacy, and is used in enough important policy decisions that it should be maintained.

Ken Breadner said...

Yes, 'next best' was meant politically, of course...I really don't get the arguments I've heard. Invasion of privacy? Show me one instance where StatsCan has sold data to a third party and I'll listen. Besides, people routinely give far more sensitive information than how many bedrooms are in their house to corporations. All the data is available elsewhere? Y'know, I kind of doubt that. Even if it is, it's handy and cost-effective to have it all in one place.

Catelli said...

@Chris: We filled out the long-form last time. My only recollection about it was that it was a pain-in-the-@ss because it took so much time. I certainly didn't find anything invasive about it. And as you know, the information private enterprise has on you is even more "intrusive" and complete. But we don't hear anything about that now do we?

@Ken: Exactly.

@Both: For argument's sake, I'm granting to those opposed to the long-form all of their points. But I want them to explain why less-accurate data is just fine for research purposes. There's been almost 1000 comments at Maclean's about this topic, and I have yet to see one person address this coherently. (Other than Olaf, and that was obliquely to my point.)