Monday, February 2, 2015

The Dread Bill C-626

There are three types of lies, lies, damned lies and statistics - Mark Twain.

In 2013 a 79 year old woman, Janet Churnin, was charged and convicted with refusing to fill out the long form census and sentenced to 50 hours community service. While her opposition wasn't to the census per se but rather to the fact that prominent American merchant of death Lockheed Martin had been contracted to handle the data and it's vulnerability with regards to the American government and the Patriot Act this hardly denigrates her courage and one cannot help but he filled with contempt for the idiot crown attorney who felt the need to take this case to trial. Our tax dollars at work. This may prove to have been the last - though certainly not the first - time a citizen was brought to court for refusing to fill out these forms since in 2010 the mandatory long form census was replaced with a voluntary National Household survey but perhaps not because on Wednesday Parliament votes on Bill C-626 determining whether the long form census should return. While it is likely - but not certain- this bill will be defeated the specter of the census' resurrection looms large on the horizon and the opinion molding class is agitating tirelessly for it's return.

The argument, repeated tirelessly, is that without the information collected by the census it is impossible to plan the economy. Well precisely so. We don't want or need the economy to be planned by officious bureaucrats and obnoxious do-gooders. The only planning that needs to occur can be done by entrepreneurs with the help of the price system. Government planning is morally and economically bankrupt. The free market system is in every way superior to that of state compulsion and control. Statistics have always been a means to bamboozle others and almost never a tool for elucidation. Of course it is wrong to compel individuals through the power of the court system to provide statistical data to the state but it is also unnecessary to collect this information in the first place, so eliminating the census is a great opportunity to spare the taxpayer some money and the annoying knocks on the door.

Far too often the statistical data gleaned from the census or other sources is used as a rationalization for government spending or intervention in the market. Economists are far too eager to call for state action on the slightest blip. A fall in unemployment brings demands for make work projects. A fall in oil prices mans we need more stimulus and a monetary policy of easy credit. The economy is slowing down? Better amp up the government spending. With sufficient motivation the data can be examined or teased to support any conclusion but seldom is this conducive to good policy.

Central economic planning does not work. Instead of having the government control and plan the economy we must revert to the free enterprise system. Leave the government blind, deaf and dumb, without the aid of statistical data as a means to plan and we will all be better off.

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