Tuesday 7 March 2023

"Keep The Home Fires Burning - With Your Census Form"

[Reposted from the last time census-takers wielded their clipboards without royally stuffing it up.]

Yes, it's that time again: when officious questioners fan out across the country to invade your privacy with threats, and freedom lovers across the land express their antipathy to their recurrent symbol of bureaucracy and the Nanny State -- the five yearly census form -- by turning it into a carbon footprint.

Libertarians object to being told to fill in a census form for two reasons: first, being ordered to fill in a questionnaire (they never just ask nicely, do they) is a violation of a peaceful person's right to be left alone; second, the information obtained via the census is utilised for all manner of central planning by the State.

This central planning prolongs the existence of many government agencies that libertarians believe lie outside the scope of limited government.

By refusing to hand over details of your private life to bureaucrats, even if it doesn't make someone in government sit up and reflect on the violation of civil liberty that the census represents, at least you will annoy a few of them by creating more work.

Should you choose not to warm your dwelling by oxidising your census forms, at least drag your feet on completing them by the due date. Let the lapdogs of the State come running to you and, when they do, refer them to the Privacy Commissioner, whose office "seeks to develop and promote a culture in which personal information is protected and respected". Ultimately, ask them to meet you in a public place where they can kneel down with hands clasped and beg you to fill their forms in. Surely they will if the information is that important.

And when or if you do hand it over, be aware that the only information their own law compels you to supply is your name and address. Which they already have. [But do check the current legislation for yourself.]

 * * * * 

The Census-Taker-in-Chief tells you why you should fill out your census instead of filing it in the Osama (Bin Liner). [Same mealy-mouthed reasons being used this time.] Let’s see if any hold water:

It will bring about sweeping changes to our lives.

“Changes” effected not by our own wishes, but by the wishes of planners and politicians. Not buying that one.

Some schools will change decile ratings, meaning more or less funding from the Government.

The flawed ranking of schools based on parents’ incomes should be abandoned, not encouraged.

We need your answers so planners can plan.

First off, the only planning I want central planners to plan is how to change careers. The miracle of price signals gives a full daily survey of what people want and where, and they deliver the means by which to meet that demand. “Planners” by contrast try to shoe-horn all of us into plans based on their own values, not ours. And they work with figures long out of date by the time they’re used: have you noticed, for example, that the motorways now being built were actually planned in the sixties, and only just being built now?

We need your answers to plan electoral boundaries, and the number of Maori seats.

I fail to see why boundaries should be changed so regularly anyway—and in any case, most are primarily changed for political rather than statistical reasons. And if they are to be changed, abundant information is available elsewhere and from smaller voluntary surveys. And race-based seats should be abolished, not encouraged.
(Curiously, it’s also suggested that as census-takers prioritise the “Maori” answer if forms have more than one “ethnicity” box ticked, the census continues to overstate the proportion of Maori in the population, maybe by up to ten percentage points.)

We need your answer on ethnicity to allocate health funding where ethnic communities have settle.

Even if one accepts that “health funding” should be “allocated” by government planners, it’s entirely unclear why this should be done on the basis of ethnicity.
Indeed, in that it reflects a barnyard form of collectivism, this question is probably the most offensive on the whole census form. Ethnicity elevates one’s racial identity and associated cultural traditions to a position of supreme importance – a racist version of collectivism, under-pinned by post-modernism in philosophy.
Defining oneself by one’s race and tradition -- things about which one has no control over -- is utterly incompatible with defining oneself by one’s conscious choices, and deriving pride in one's own achievements rather than just those of one's ancestors -- which is the essence of individualism.
One would have thought that the history of recent centuries might have been sufficient cause for alarm to have governments interested in measuring and elevating the importance of ethnicity.
I was encouraged to hear that in the last census, around 250,000 who inadvisably did complete their census form at least crossed out all the given answers and wrote the words “New Zealander” in this box. That, at least, is a start.

Businesses also use the data to plan where to put new retail outlets - and even what items to stock.

Unlike government planners and statisticians, businessmen are more than capable of reading trends and price signals, which give them lightning-like instant information of the whole market before and as it happens rather than long afterwards. And if they’re not, let them do their own surveys.

The figures are also used to compile a "deprivation index" which can map the poorer areas of the country right down to small neighbourhoods. This allows for funding and resources by state agencies to closely targeted to where the need is.

Yet if one were to look at these “deprived neighbourhoods” the greatest correlation one can make with them is with the level of government services there. South Auckland has for decades had more government “services” and “agencies” on every street corner than anywhere else, yet “deprivation” levels there have changed not a whit.

When you are looking at something like rheumatic fever for instance, you can target the low income areas where there is the most overcrowding.

It’s not apparent that government planners have done anything to help the construction of affordable housing—the only way overcrowding will be overturned. Instead, they’ve done everything to make it less possible.

Iwi affiliation: As a basis for the allocation of resources and funds to iwi…

Iwi should earn their own funds. And organise their own allocations.

How did you travel to work?: This helps make plans for roads and public transport.

As I said above, most of the motorways now being built or completed were actually planned in the sixties, and only just being built now. And the public transport around our major cities still feels like it was planned in the 1860s. In other words, it’s not apparent that anything the census reveals today is either useful now or will be used any time this half-century—or would contain information that couldn’t be easily obtained elsewhere.

This will help government and councils work out where to put affordable housing.

It’s not apparent that government planners have done anything to help the construction of affordable housing. Instead, they’ve done everything to make it less possible.

It's for the efficiency of the economy and the better of society.

Clearly, she never has heard of price signals. Or how society is made better by the reduction in the use of force.


If you don’t fill out your form, we’ll prosecute.

See what I mean? The last resort of the bureaucrat: threats. Which only encourages the most common response to threats: Calling people like this by the names they deserve.

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