Monday, March 06, 2006

Ignore the census - defend the right to NOT speak

Today is apparently census day - I know I can ignore it because I'm not in New Zealand, but I ignored the last two - didn't fill them out and nothing happened. Forms were left for me and I threw them away. A few years ago a contractor at the Ministry of Economic Development had his contract terminated because he sent a joke email around about filling out religion with "Jedi" (which was circulating at the time) - MED staff were warned about joking about such a serious activity because the Ministry so badly needed the information strong-armed out of citizens. Public servants be warned - Helen and her drones don't like you joking about the Census, consider it as destructive as a cartoon about Mohammed!
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The principle is very simple - there should not be an offence of failing to fill out a questionnaire. The state does not have a right to force you to answer questions in this case, any more than it does if you are arrested for murder.
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Statistics could ask, you could fill it in because you think it is a good thing to do. However, this is an initiation of force. The excuse given for compulsion on the census website is nonsense:
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"The reason for making the census compulsory is simple. It is the only way we can be sure that information about the total population has been obtained and we have an accurate overview of New Zealand society every five years. The census is the key source of information about the people living in our cities, towns, suburbs and rural communities. As everyone takes part, we can get a full picture of what’s really happening in our country. If the census was voluntary, we would never know whether those who filled in the census forms were truly representative of the population or not. The statistics produced would be very unreliable. "
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Well no they can't - because people object and people lie on their forms. You cannot possibly be that omniscient and by the time the data has been collected, it will have changed. You can't know whether people filling it out have filled out other people's forms. Besides, there are companies that risk millions of dollars of their OWN money investing in New Zealand gathering information they require through surveys and observation - by voluntary means, and it seems to work for them.
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The ends do NOT justify the means - it might be good for everyone if they were put on a special healthy diet for every day, but it would not justify forcing people to only eat what was approved by the state. NOT because it would be inefficient, but because it is immoral.
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So ignore it, tell Statistics you are saying no. Not PC gives you ways of doing so. If you don't want to confront them, then hide from them - don't answer the door when they come knocking, and just live your life in peace. A small point? Petty even? No - if I went to your front door and demanded you answer questions about your household and life, and would arrest you if you failed, how would you feel? Why do you think it is ok for the government to do it then?
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UPDATE: Libertarianz have organised a protest at the Wellington Sound Shell, with a fire breather to burn census forms. The press release states:
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"Libertarianz leader, Bernard Darnton, announced the event today, saying that "the census is a blatant example of Government intrusion intopeople's private lives and should not be tolerated."The fire-breather will be performing on the Sound Shell Lawn in theWellington Botanic Gardens at 8.30pm on census night and everyone who opposes the compulsory collection of personal information is welcome. Libertarianz members in other parts of the country will also be barbecuingtheir census forms.
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The press release also notes that Germany doesn't have censuses, and the sky hasn't fallen in. Maybe it learnt from its less than free recent history? Go join them in the Sound Shell tonight, at least to watch the spectacle and support another dimension of free speech - the right not to be FORCED to speak.

1 comment:

Rick said...

I'm told the UK doesn't do them either. Ask around will you?