Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Airing of the Grievances

Like unreported crimes, there are many unaired grievances. So, in honour of Festivus, here's how Ì have been wronged over the past year.

1. To Naheed Nenshi: Because of you, everyone thinks Calgary has gone soft. Electing a muslim university professor who blogs about urban planning? Yeah, way to be a right wing rebel without a cause. Calgary used to be the Jack Bauer of Canada - now the city acts like one of the kids from Glee.

2. To Carl Benito's wife: I blame you for not paying your husband's taxes, the worldwide economic downturn, and Canada not winning a security council seat at the UN.

3. To Rahim Jaffer and Helena Guergis: Way to make us read 20,000 stories about you this year. Those are hours of my life I'll never get back.

4. To Anonymous Liberal Sources: I have it on good authority from unnamed colleagues of yours that you're not helping anyone.

5. To Tony Clement and Stephen Harper: Among the many grievances I have this year, the abolition of the long form census tops the list. I know that from an ideological perspective, Conservatives generally see government as an obstacle to, than a vehicle of, progress. But that doesn't mean you should shoot the government in the food, by making it fly blind with inaccurate data. And it certainly doesn't mean you should hurt the hundreds of private businesses that rely on census data.

No, it didn't sink your government. As the pundits would say "you won". Just like you seem to have "won" on prorogation, appointed senators, and a host of other issues. But just because you can punch someone in the dark, doesn't mean you should.


  • My grievance? Stop saying the long form census was abolished!

    It's still here, going to just as many households, and will probably be filled out by just as many people.

    As for #1, my grievance is the twisted view Canadians must have of Calgary if they think electing someone progressive, or of colour, should be any kind of shock at all.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 9:38 a.m.  

  • The mandatory long form census was abolished. Everyone knows that Robert.

    Why anyone would fill out the voluntary long form census is beyond me. It is statistically useless and therefore a great big waste of your time. I know I am not going to waste mine.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 9:45 a.m.  

  • Robert's wrong, and even Gayle misspoke in still referring to the new NHS (the National Household Survey, which is what it became once the long-form q're no longer _must_ be filled out properly).

    Both are terms of art: i.e., have technical dfs. A population "census" is to be UNIVERSAL: i.e., as close to a COMPLETE count as possible, particularly for those characteristics the country's legislation sets out as "Needs to know," like the actual total no. of people, to determine electoral boundaries, or their ages, to determine the size of the school, labour force, or old age security populations. To get that complete coverage, all households and institutions that house people (like prisons) have to either get a questionnaire they can & do fill out themselves, or they gotta get enumerated in person.

    But for the other characteristics that the country might be very interested in for other programs but isn't strictly legally required for them to know -- like, what proportion of a household's total income is chewed up by the costs of their, er, housing -- the official statistical agencies that pronounce on the integrity of the data on such things, also allow for our former model: (cont'd)

    By Blogger WhigWag, at 12:26 p.m.  

  • It can still qualify as a census when it comes to obtaining information on just a sub-set of characteristics (like income or education level) of the total population if it's done on just a portion of the total population IF that element of universality can still be said to apply there:

    if, for example, it's:

    a truly random sample of a large enough sub-set, and, as before, every household either has to fill it out themselves or be enumerated in person.

    So far, we've tolerated something like getting 95%-98% completions on both the short form & long form, rather than actually hounding that last 5% to kingdom come or putting them in jail, because there was enough diversity in the holdouts so as not to corrupt the results.

    But once it drops to 70% or less of completions, as it's expected, then we can't regard it as a universal survey of the random subset any more: there's too much selection bias, particularly on the part of those who didn't respond. (From other voluntary surveys, they've found, e.g., that a disproportionate amount of the very rich & very poor won't respond).

    And by def., a non-universal survey is just a survey: NOT a census.

    See, e.g., the intro to the UN's "Workshop on New Alternatives for Population and Housing Census"

    and the actual "Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses" which that summarizes:

    By Blogger WhigWag, at 12:27 p.m.  

  • Here's a backgrounder on how the representativeness of the responses in vol. surveys gets skewed:

    The Importance of the Long Form Census to Canada, by
    David A. Green and Kevin Milligan, Canadian Public Policy Journal, September 2010:

    and others in that issue:

    By Blogger WhigWag, at 3:01 p.m.  

  • The mandatory long form census was abolished. Everyone knows that Robert.

    a·bol·ish [uh-bol-ish]
    –verb (used with object)
    to do away with; put an end to; annul; make void: to abolish slavery.

    A population "census" is to be UNIVERSAL: i.e., as close to a COMPLETE count as possible

    Well, by that definition, the old way was even less of a "census," since it only went to 20% of the population.

    Agree or disagree with the decision, but claiming that the long-form was "abolished" is totally false.

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 4:06 a.m.  

  • My grievances re Cons:

    Abandonment of LTD employees to poverty in corporate bankruptcy

    Refusal to offer MS Liberation Treatment, let alone neck vein imaging

    Cons' anti-democratic processes and holding pleasing of funding buddies and groups with high vote numbers above doing what's right

    I cannot stand either the federal or provincial Cons

    By Anonymous JDignum, at 6:29 a.m.  

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