The Shotgun Blog
Saturday, July 17, 2010
WS on the census: Karen Selick
The chief Tory spokesman against the mandatory long form census has been Industry Minister Tony Clement. Too bad Tony is so inconsistent in his views about defending freedom and privacy. When he was health minister, Tony spearheaded the drive to bring in Bill C-6, the so-called Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. That bill (which died on the order paper, but has recently been revived as Bill C-36) is chock-full of powers for bureaucrats to intrude upon Canadians’ privacy.
It will deploy a vast army of inspectors to poke their noses into every nook and cranny of Canadian businesses—including those operated in people’s homes—seeking phantom dangers. No-one has yet produced any evidence that the existing law (The Hazardous Products Act) has failed to ensure consumers’ safety. In fact, during hearings, the Health Canada bureaucrats promoting the bill admitted that the old law has done a good job. The new bill seems to be desired primarily by those same bureaucrats for the purpose of building their empires.
In addition to authorizing frequent intrusions into business premises (including homes), C-36 also authorizes the federal government to give confidential business information about Canadian businesses to foreign governments, without the consent of the business.
But back to the census. All the do-gooders who want to make it mandatory seem to cite reasons that are themselves illiberal. For instance, Bill Robson of the C.D. Howe Institute, writing recently in the Globe & Mail, cited the need for information in the fields of education and health as a reason. But the provision of education and health are not services that properly fall within the mandate of the state. Both should be privatized, and then -- poof! -- there goes the reason for needing the statistics.
It’s funny that the suppliers of other necessities to the poor—for instance, inexpensive clothing of the kind sold in WalMart or Giant Tiger stores—they don’t seem to need the census to figure out where to put their stores, what quantities of goods to order, or what price to offer them for.
Notably silent on the census issue has been the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA). One would think this would be an issue about which they would have clear, strong freedom-oriented views. Alas, much of the decision-making in that organization is in the hands of committed leftists who no doubt support the idea of the state supplying education, health and more.
The sectors of the economy that keep devouring greater and greater shares of our resources, and producing worse and worse results are -- guess what? -- education and health care! And this is after they’ve had the supposed benefit of the long-form census for all these years!
Karen Selick is the litigation director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation.
"It’s funny that the suppliers of other necessities to the poor—for instance, inexpensive clothing of the kind sold in WalMart or Giant Tiger stores—they don’t seem to need the census to figure out where to put their stores, what quantities of goods to order, or what price to offer them for."
It is exactly the mandatory long form census data that these businesses use to make decisions about where to locate their stores and which items to stock on their shelves.
Instead of making up inaccurate and specious arguments about the value of the census, the 'brain trusts' of right wing charities should go out and get a real job in a real business. Then they might begin to appreciate the value that the mandatory long form census data offers to the Canadian business world.
Posted by: Ernest Scribbler | 2010-07-18 7:43:24 AM
Yes, Ernest: businesses are incapable of responding to demand for goods and services. Markets cannot exist without a mandatory long-form census to tell suppliers what to produce and in what quantities.
That's why, historically, markets only came into being after governments created censuses. Absent the census, there can be no trade, so everyone just starves.
You should be an economics professor.
Posted by: Bradley | 2010-07-18 9:27:32 AM
"Yes, Ernest: businesses are incapable of responding to demand for goods and services. Markets cannot exist without a mandatory long-form census to tell suppliers what to produce and in what quantities."
Well, the mandatory long census can be used by businesses to more efficiently produce and distribute their goods and services thereby maximizing the value of their shareholder's investment. This is a good thing, no?
"That's why, historically, markets only came into being after governments created censuses."
Jean Talon's census in New France in 1665 created a market for single women, so, yes, some markets do come into being as a result of censuses.
"You should be an economics professor."
Economics is the 'dismal science', not really very useful and not something one should trade on. I would rather trade science for alchemy and the renaissance for the dark ages.
Posted by: Ernest Scribbler | 2010-07-18 9:49:22 PM
Never mind. I see that I have been trolled.
Posted by: Bradley | 2010-07-19 2:29:06 PM
Ernest, if you had even the remotest notion of what actually goes on in a business enterprise, you would be thoroughly embarrassed by your scribblings here. Do you seriously think WalMart purchasing agents sit down with the long-form census results to determine how many tank tops to buy this year, or what colour? What on earth do they do in between census years when fashions and "in" colours change? And where on the long census form has the state ever asked about tank tops or clothing colours?
My father owned a retail store and my husband owns a manufacturing company. I assure you, neither of them ever in their entire business careers consulted the census to determine any business-related matter.
Posted by: Karen Selick | 2010-07-20 1:19:13 PM
Karen, I appreciate that local retailers would probably not use census data to measure their market (although they could if they wanted). The local 'mom & pop' retailers probably believe that personal experience of the local market is all that is required.
But I have worked for national and multinational corporations and they do indeed use the mandatory long term census data to target their Canadian markets (and gladly pay StatsCan for that data). They would be considered incompetent fools if they didn't.
Posted by: Ernest Scribbler | 2010-07-21 5:56:35 PM
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