Despots and Counting People

I was thinking to myself that despotic governments in poor countries probably don’t care too much about an accurate census.  Undercounting is to the advantage of those who need oppress, and strip of human dignity, and in extreme cases purge.  You can’t trim your population by a few percent in a short period of time if you’re keeping track of your population count.  People would notice.

It made me reflect on Trump’s desire to put a citizenship question on the census. Many illegal immigrants are too afraid to fill out a census anyway, this would ensure that none did. Why count them right? Trump and his party would like to think of them as thieves in the night, sneaking across the southern desert, looking to rob some rich Americans in their new life. Yet most of them came here legally, many were brought as children, many were born here and love and need their parents as much as you did. Most are doing jobs that you and I wouldn’t do, and if we would, we’d want a lot more money to do it. Whether one wants to be an absolutist about the rule of law, they count and are part of the fabric of our society.  Whether it’s costly or beneficial, they are still human beings.  I suspect if Republicans could see them that way, they wouldn’t be absolutists about immigration law.

But I imagine even in the best of times undercounting is always going to be the case. And I began to wonder ‘Who else aren’t we counting in our society?’

I just want everyone to know that you count. And then you tell it to other people who aren’t reading my blog. Which is quite a lot. But even those people count and they need to know too.


17 thoughts on “Despots and Counting People

  1. You are 100% correct that every person counts. I do know that one of the issues about immigrants is that they don’t pay taxes like they should. The problem is, if they didn’t have to worry about being deported more would probably pay whatever was required.


      1. I just don’t understand why it is so hard for people to get citizenship. They obviously want to live here and make life here. Maybe if it wasn’t so hard it wouldn’t be such a big deal. I was in the restaurant business for 18 years and that is one industry that employs immigrants, legal or not, but pay them nothing for hours and hours of work. If it such a problem then why is that industry mostly ignored? It is so screwed up.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Being from Canada and having gone through the process of having various types of visas I can tell you that the process is convoluted for everybody. In my opinion it seems designed to be so, so you just figure it isn’t worth the effort. But maybe it also needs to be convoluted to do proper vetting, Here is a decent but short read for why it is difficult for them to get legal immigration.

          A colleague of mine who is a history professor specializing in Latin America said that really it’s not about immigration reform, but labor law reform. There are many employers who benefit from having cheap labor, and hell waiting tables citizen or not might be a general good example. This problem is not a new one. I don’t know if you watched that primary debate for the Republican Party back in 1980, that was one of the main issues they discussed. So it’s been an issue for at least 40 years. I’m pretty sure if there was actual political will to do something about it we would have done it by now. Many countries with developing and strong capitalist economies use illegal labor a lot. We’re not the only one.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thank you for all that information. I must admit that I am not well versed on political things, but trying to learn. I appreciate other peoples opinions because I don’t know all of the ins and outs of these things. Hearing different views allows me to make better decisions from my end.

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  2. rautakyy

    Ha! Trump and his company employ many of these uncounted immigrants, do they not?

    Of course, if you are filthy rich, and you are disturbed about how much you have to pay your employees, you can lower the price of work by supporting politics, that diminish the human value of a group of people within your society. It does not really matter wich group you choose, or even if you yourself have to employ any of them. Any group that is already under the prejudice of the rest of the population will do nicely. Such a group, be they separated from the rest of the workforce by any arbitrary method, like being immigrants, religious minority, ethnically segragated, or what ever, has to take jobs for a lower pay and thus they create competition to lower the price of work. All work. In reflection the value of owning stuff, rather than earning from work grows and creates more misery, that then reflects – not on the people creating the policy, that created the situation, but on the group being segragated, as if it was their fault, that they have to do work for a lower price. In extreme (but not uncommon) cases this leads to serious violence, as we have seen throughout human history, but just to mention a couple of later examples the Holocaust in Nazi-Germany and the more recent apartheid policy in modern day Israel.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sometimes they overcount to pad the numbers, i.e to win an election. It is not always under counting that despots do. I think generally, they don’t care so much about the accuracy of the numbers. But it is not just despots. NGOs will give you funny numbers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My apologies for the delayed response. It seems hard to maintain a focus and structure in isolation.

      That’s interesting perspective I didn’t consider, but have no doubt is true. I guess the main point is that when numbers are accurate it constrains what you can do, because everybody knows the numbers. When there is no accurate counting numbers can be fudged to suit your purposes.


      1. Yep. When numbers are true and people know what they are, it is difficult to manipulate. Here is where 1984 makes a lot of sense. “They who control the present can control the past. He who has control of information has power.”


  4. And it isn’t just governments and NGOs for undercounting (or in some cases overcounting), but let’s stick to undercounting. From what I read there are over 1.1 billion people in the world who are “invisible”. They lack birth registration and therefore cannot obtain national identification and do not have access to any benefits or rights that are enjoyed by recorded citizens of that state. Pakistan alone has 60 million unrecorded children (stats could be higher as unrecorded births assumes there are no reliable statisitics). The reasons vary – rural home births is one contributing factor. Many of these are girls because girls are deemed unimportant and unwanted.

    I know this is a diversion from Trump and his unhonourable position on immigrants. But I liked your conclusion that everyone counts. So just wanted to include these 1.1 billion,

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello Swarn. The situation is even worse than your post suggests. The tRump administration pushed for the citizenship question to hurt states with more Democrats and run by Democratic party governors or legislators. As you and your viewers may know in the US the House Of Representatives members are appropriated by the every ten year census. Also many federal government programs are structured around the population of the states. Also the constitution requires the counting of every person, not just citizens in the country. So the attempt of the citizen questions goal was not only to frighten people into not answering the census but to also proportion both the House and government programs to only the amount of citizens. That would exclude not only undocumented immigrants but also those immigrants legally in the country on work visas. It would cause a lot of Democratic party controlled states to lose representatives and government programs and increase the legislative power of Republican controlled states. When the SCOTUS stopped the citizen question from being on the census the tRump administration hit on another plan, they simply plan to use all the government databases to weed out people that they think may not be citizens from the census count. In order to make this work they have cut the census gathering time short inorder to make sure tRump is the one to transmit the official numbers to the congress, instead of the original plan to extend counting until next year with the possibility for them to trap more illegal immigrants. My understanding is that congress has no ability to challenge the numbers the president certifies to congress, so if the tRump plan is used it changes both the balance of power in congress between the states, and also the way government services are granted to states hurting Democratic states and helping Republican states. The real losers in this is the people, and the ones gaining are the Republicans who think they deserve to be the ruling party even though the party is a minority unable to attract new party members due to their hateful stances. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for that extra insight Scottie. I was loosely aware of some of that, but not on the specifics. I do know that the census makes a difference in district drawing and how well people are represented at all levels of government. The methods for oppressing people are many in a complex society. I hope you are well Scottie!

      Liked by 1 person

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