Let’s get rid of the Census Now – As I listen to all the hubbub about the census long form, I can’t stop wondering why we even have a census. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not questioning the need for knowing how many people do in fact inhabit this country of ours, and where they live precisely, and how much money they make, and how many cars they own, and how many bathrooms they maintain in their homes. All these are wonderfully important things to know for a sheer endless number of reasons.
No, what I don’t understand why we need a census to know all this?
Think about it:
Every time you interact with any level of government somewhere in this country, you have to produce some form of photo ID, each of which is linked with each other directly or indirectly, and all of which can be traced back to your SIN, which is given to you practically at birth.
Every single transaction you have with governments at any level is stored on some database on some computer somewhere, and each of these computers is somehow linked to the internet one way or the other.
All these databases maintained by all the different levels of government out there are keeping track of all of our lives on almost a daily basis. Some of us may find that scary and disconcerting, but it is a reality. Even the fact that you right now are reading this blog post is recorded in some database somewhere.
So, why do we need a census?
If we lived in, say, ancient Egypt or Babylonia five thousand years ago, I would understand why we needed census. The fellahin along the Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates didn’t have social insurance numbers, photo id’s and microchip readers. In such a world it would make complete sense to employ a small army of scribes armed with papyrus rolls and clay tablets to count the people and tabulate their possessions.
Even twenty years ago, back when 3 ½ inch floppy disks were considered the bee’s knee, and connecting over an acoustic coupler at 300bauds was a mind-blowing experience in global connectivity and speed, it made sense to employ thousands upon thousands of census takers to collect whatever governments needed to know.
But in 2011? Please. Why do we still bother?
Why doesn’t anybody with anything to say on this matter call the whole thing off and instead find a way to connect all those multiple databases with each other and call up the correct data when it is needed?
Instead of relying on data that’s updated every five years, we could have data that’s updated pretty much every day – or at least once a year, in the case of income data from the CRA. And instead of relying on statistical estimates from a mere 20,000 data sets (the Long Form), we would have accurate information down to the last Canadian and legal immigrant with an SIN anywhere in Canada.
Yes, going from house to house and filling out questionnaires has worked well for five thousand years. But so have have horse-drawn buggies.
Let’s get rid of the Census and bring this country into the Information Age – once and for all.