The Shotgun Blog
Friday, July 16, 2010
WS on the Census: Walter Block
We're putting up opinions about the census from around the Western-Standard-verse. Here's Professor Walter Block's contribution:
Statistics are the eyes and ears of government. Therefore, the less of them they have, the better off we will all be. Why? Because data, information of the sort collected by a compulsory census enables the government to engage in central planning, and the less of that the better.
Or, have we not learned any lesson from the failure of the 5 year plans of the late and non lamented USSR? Any step in the direction of reducing the impact of the census is a step in the right direction: it is a step in the direction of liberty. That government is best that governs least, and the census enables the state to govern more. So, that census which gives the government the least information is the best.
Dr. Block is the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics at Loyola University, and author of several books, including these:
For Freedom's Sake: Always choose the voluntary peaceful method.
By Mark D Hughes
July 13, 2010
I am greatly troubled by the recent cacophony of vitriol and anger spewed
out by the army of special interests who insist the census long form must be
imposed by threat of state violence. "Tell us what we want to know or we
will lock you away and take your money." How is that part of the Canadian
These folks (lets be real... supporters of hegemony and state coercion and
enemies of peaceful cooperation) employ an argument something like "unless
the long form is backed by the threat of state violence no one will give us
the information we want." Hmm, why does that sound so familiar? Oh right,
that's what they say about the need to torture prisoners in the terror war
...everyone knows a good threat will always get your victim to tell the
To argue that Statistics Canada can derive scientifically reliable data only
with the threat of state sanctioned violence is a vial commentary on the
degree to which some elitists worship at the alter of government information
More to the point, this whole mode of thought must necessarily reject an
entire body of social science dedicated to the peaceful collection of data
by way of voluntary surveys. Should we never again trust (within the
scientific parameters set) an Ipsos Reid pole because it wasn't taken at the
point of a gun? What utter nonsense!
As to the privacy issues regarding the long form, they are obvious to all
but the most dull. In my estimation, however, privacy is not the primary
catalyst for the public's dislike of this particular form of state snooping.
Indeed, as has been pointed out by many who agitate for a mandatory census,
most of the information collected on the long form is not that dissimilar
from what the average Canadian is willing to discloses on Facebook.
What really bugs most people about the census process is that the state
DEMANDS they divulge these intimate details about themselves and their
households. And these demands are echoed by elitist special interests--as
diverse as academics, bureaucrats and business marketers--who enjoy the
benefits of this taxpayer-financed information landslide.
Finally, it is delightfully ironic that the vary argument advocates for a
mandatory census use to marginalize/ridicule the notion that privacy is a
relevant and sensible issue in relation to the census (i.e., the fact that
so many Canadians voluntarily empty their guts on Facebook), lays bare the
lie that scientifically reliable data, of the sort the long form is designed
to capture, can only be derived by way of coercion...backed up by the
state's monopoly on institutionalized violence.
If Canadians will voluntarily confess all to Facebook, surely they will
answer a few questions from Statistics Canada if they are asked nicely.
Indeed, as the Edmonton Journal's Lorne Gunter so wisely reminds us in his
excellent June 11 article [ http://tinyurl.com/3yyzqhx ], "In a democracy,
the bureaucrats and politicians have to ask us nicely to comply;
they cannot demand we do except in very special circumstances."
I say, if you genuinely value freedom, always choose the voluntary peaceful
Mark D Hughes is the Executive Director of the Vancouver Island based
"Institute for the Study of privacy Issues" (ISPI) and the editor of ISPI
Clips, North America's leading news service for identity, surveillance and
privacy issues. www.PrivacyNews.com .
Posted by: Mark D Hughes | 2010-07-16 7:35:53 PM
Mark, that should be "vile" not "vial".
Posted by: Karen Selick | 2010-07-17 8:00:09 AM
Mark: That is an unusual method of submitting a piece for consideration. But it will do. I'll post it up on the main page. In future, please send us an email, or email me personally, with any editorial submissions.
Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2010-07-17 11:46:16 AM
pity the poor.....spellers :)
Posted by: Mark D Hughes | 2010-07-17 4:17:46 PM
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