Thursday, March 17, 2011

Census 2011

Here we go. I'm probably going to be thrown into libertarian limbo as a suspected heretic for this, but I'm going to say it anyway. Last week I filled in the census form online. That's part of my confession. This is the biggy now that will probably have me tied to the libertarian stake and torched, I didn't have a problem with it and don't understnd the fuss. Oh dear, I've done it now.

Quite seriously I don't understand the big deal and am disappointed that some libertarians, and others, are kicking up such a fuss. In terms of real intrusion into our lives the census is a pussycat. In terms of real problems in the UK and the world the census is irrelevant. A bit of perspective is required.

Why should the state know if I'm married, shacked up or living with two boyfriends? Why should the state know whether I'm a Catholic a Muslim or a Jedi? Why should the state know if I feel healthy? Why should the state know if I drive to work? It shouldn't but I don't care who knows that I'm a married Roman Catholic who feels quite healthy, and thankfully don't have to drive to work. There, I've just divulged the most intrusive parts of my census return. Are you grievously shocked at my being so irresponsible with such highly sensitive and potentially damaging personal data? Will you or the state be trying to use it to blackmail or oppress me now?

I find the average job application more intrusive than the census and feel less happy giving that data to potential employees, who I probably trust even less than I do the state. Through the NHS the state holds much more sensitive data about me and my family than will be collected in the census. Local councils already hold more sensitive data on me than the census collected.

Using a supermarket loyalty scheme gives them potentially more sensitive information than the census collected. How long before a poor sod turns up to the doctor only to be diagnosed with cirrhosis, said doctor then checks your Nectar account and refuses you treatment because three bottles of gin a week has the state declaring your cirrhosis self-inflicted?

What I object to is the cost and the fact that the state already has much more detailed information about us in various places. If it got its act together it could press a button and get all the informaton collected in the census and much more besides. Which is why, after a couple of centuries or so, this will probably be the last formal census of this type.

So let's get a grip and keep the census in perspective. Whining on about 'police state' and 'big brother intrusion' in regard to the census does the credibility of those with genuine concerns about the size and power of the state no favours whatsoever. In fact it makes us look like spoilt brats throwing temper tantrums.


Steve Ballmer said...

Nice blogging my friend!

e.f. bartlam said...

I'm ok with telling them how many people live in the house...but that's it. It necessary for the system that we have. The rest is none of their, or the busy body sociologists, b'iness.

Gregg said...

I agree Erik. But I think the campaigns, that I support, to limit the info kept on us by the state do us no favours calling for a boycott of the census.

Much more sensitive inf is kept, sold and lost by the state than is in the census. The reaction of may people to opposing the census is 'what's the big deal?'. That then colours their view of our more important campaigns.