Home > lockheed martin, war, weapons > Protesting the census’ military links is foolish

Protesting the census’ military links is foolish

May 24, 2011

Here’s an interesting one for the “things you probably didn’t know” file: did you know the census is run on software supplied by a military contractor? Moreoever, did you know that people are actually protesting this?

It’s true. According to Toronto Star columnist Catherine Porter, the United States was the first to contract weapons maker Lockheed Martin for its census software in 2000. The U.K. followed in 2001, as did Canada in 2004. So far, Canada has paid the company about $81 million for its optic recognition software, which scans and catalogues the completed, mailed-in forms (I just sent mine in this weekend).

A number of people, including Porter, find this objectionable. As she said in her recent column: “That means when you fill out your census form and mail it in, you are unintentionally supporting a war machine.”

A bit of a protest movement has emerged as a result. One website, Countmeout.ca, urges people to not answer the census at all. A few individuals, meanwhile, have refused to fill out the survey and taken their protests to the courts.

Hoo boy. I’m not sure how to break it to these people. If they find that filling out the census is morally objectionable because doing so helps inadvertently helps support the war machine… well, they better start packing for a life of living in a cave because the census is really, really, really small peanuts.

If any of these protesters played a video game before 1990, they directly lined the pockets of a military contractor. If they’ve ever used Google or driven a car, they’ve directly supported companies that have ongoing, two-way interactions with the military. If they’ve ever eaten anything besides what they themselves have grown or killed, chances are very good they’ve given money to a military supplier.

There is no escaping it, which is what Sex, Bombs and Burgers is all about: industry and the military are inextricably interwoven. Is that right or should we accept it? That’s a topic for another day, but protesting the census on conscientious grounds is, in the end, downright silly.

Categories: lockheed martin, war, weapons
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  1. Alasdair
    May 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm | #1

    “That means when you fill out your census form and mail it in, you are unintentionally supporting a war machine.”

    The fallacy here is the idea that by not completing the census, you are depriving Lockheed Martin of your tax dollars. I haven’t seen the contract, but I suspect they get paid most (if not all) of what’s due to them irrespective of the return rate. All you’re really doing is depriving the government of important information that it needs to generate public policies and deliver services.

    There is also no reason to believe that ripping up your census form is going to result in LM losing the contract in the future, either.

  2. Marc Venot
    May 24, 2011 at 6:41 pm | #2

    You can (or should) have filled that form at a website.

  3. May 25, 2011 at 1:25 am | #3

    That countmeout site makes me want to gouge out my eyes… grainy static .gifs, wrong use of .jpg, images for text, no sense of web design, horrid table based layout, and framesets…
    Though I guess that framesets part seams to derive from the use of shitty ISP based site hosting and a moronic frameset “redirect” from their registrar to make it look like the site is actually on a domain name.
    I wonder what their registrar… ok, at least it’s not GoDaddy.

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