Privacy concerns have trumped accuracy, and nobody knows what’s happening
It's simply absurd that there is a debilitating concern about privacy when it comes to public sector activities while the private sector and especially the tech giants are by far the bigger threat in the privacy realm.
The focus on privacy in the public sector is weaponized by multiple actors. On one side, it is the target of bad faith complaining by those that wish to diminish the government's capabilities and on the other it is a useful bureaucratic scapegoat in the face of larger, structural issues.
This is really great, Matt! Privacy concerns also block inter-agency information sharing, and then they enter into bizarre and incomplete MOUs are created to 'share what we can'.
But the claim that no one is counting cannot be overstated. In Virginia, for example, the best eviction data we have is from an academic institution who has an unpaid intern pull the numbers from the court records. Due to the scale, the data is only regional. To the point of the article, eviction data is registered twice already by statute and we don't care to count; one being the court documentation mentioned, but another by sheriff's when they place a notice of eviction.
Things like this are why McConnell is a genius to try and run on absolutely zero policy substance. Americans don't want the government to do anything because the government is messing up everything it tries to do!
I used to just blame this on Republicans (and it is still largely their fault) but at some point the party of expanding government needs to take responsibility for improving government. Through COVID, in particular, the US Government has seen a MASSIVE erosion in state capacity that shows no signs of being mitigated. It doesn't even really seem like anyone cares. I can't blame that on Mitch McConnell.
Kudos to MY for observing that counting is the archetypal state capacity. Early governments developed cuneiform to keep tax records. Writing down numbers is older than writing complete sentences.
Any reason to think part of the problem is the denominator being low (ACS population estimates?) in addition to the numerator being off? I believe I recently saw 99% reported for youth vaccination in Chelsea, Massachusetts, a low-income, predominantly Latino city that folks have suspected for a while has a big census undercount.
I would be more skeptical of the argument that “the government could be better if it weren’t for those dastardly privacy concerns!”
It seems more likely that the government’s limited capacity has more to do with the government’s limited capacity than it has to do with that capacity being somehow artificially limited by privacy concerns. With your specific example of the CDC vaccine data, that is borne out by the Washington Post’s several deep dives into why the CDC vaccine data is wrong - it’s largely apart from the privacy protections, and the protections could be maintained even with greatly improving data quality.
One of the few decisions we’ve seemingly gotten right in this pandemic is to prioritize getting shots in arms over being meticulous about ensuring they are “properly” given and “properly” recorded. We should expect that our taxes fund a state with enough functional capability to make that the primary concerns (e.g. vaccination) a priority (as it should be!) and then to fix the data reporting later. We shouldn’t let the state off the hook because they make noises about being hamstrung by privacy concerns, and we really shouldn’t immediately acquiesce on the privacy concerns in hopes it delivers us more effective government.
Ultimately, I really would not want to have to live with an ineffective government AND no privacy protections from that government.
Why is that lead pipe graphic so bad?
"lead pipes" per 100,000 people? What counts as a "lead pipe"? A "pipe" isn't a useful fundamental unit. Is a 100' water supply line from the meter to the house a single pipe? Is the 20" supply from the wall to the faucet a single pipe? Are they equally dangerous?
I got my unofficial booster in Oregon, but my first two shots in Idaho, so I assume I am not counted accurately. And yes, I used the I don't have insurance, this is my first shot method prior to boosters being approved, since I was heading to work in Argentina.
A few states do have state vaccination records (Idaho does, as do a few other west coast states).
One of my pet peeves as far as data goes is our CDC numbers for deaths and cases doesn't include vaccination status. I can break it down by age, sex, race, some contributing conditions, but not vaccination status.
Anonymizing of data is one of those stupid things. The census is doing it making it pretty much impossible to get accurate block census data.
How much more state capacity would we have if Biden were younger and more energetic? I doubt it would make that big a difference. I like to fantasize about a younger president leaning on the FDA and CDC to not do things the stupid way, to take some risks and weigh costs and benefits among uncertainty rather than defaulting to orthodoxy. The problem is 1) bureaucrats are risk averse people who accept middling salaries for job security and pensions and 2) everything important winds up being litigated, so whichever federal judge the computer assigns gets a temporary veto. Compounding this problem are the liberals who want judicial review of everything because it keeps the right from veering too far from elite consensus.
Obama was prime aged and brilliant. What feats of administrative puissance did he perform? The ACA rollout was on par with Biden Covid mitigation, n’est pas? I suspect this is the state of affairs a nation with so old and creaky a constitution deserves.
The HIPAA privacy regime was created with one goal: to keep (ostensibly) straight people from being embarrassed by a public HIV diagnosis. That's it. That was the whole goal. It really doesn't make any sense in the current context, and in a functioning democracy, the legislature would go back and rejigger the rules to ban the things we don't want (Target sending ad flyers to people they know are pregnant through surveillance) and allow things we do want (parents to be able to get their child's PCR test result without needing a doctor to break the rules by pushing the release info button, for a personal example). Alas.
Oregon actually has a pretty solid set of COVID-19 data that I find credible and useful. Sure, there are a few issues but nothing huge: https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/oregon.health.authority.covid.19/viz/OregonsCOVID-19DataDashboards-TableofContents/TableofContentsStatewide
Matt regularly deletes his Twitter history.
Let me suggest that this is not the action of someone who is vastly unconcerned with the general notion that there might be career or social consequences to people being able to rifle through your history.
It's kind of hard to say what parts of your personal life are and aren't likely to come back to haunt you, and it's by no means crazy to want to be conservative with what you leave around to find (I assume this is part of the calculus that Matt uses to delete *everything*, not just takes he finds retrospectively suspect).
Now, on the other hand, it's only getting easier to surveil people, and at some point I do think we need an approach to privacy that's not just trying to hold back the tide. But I'm not sure that blithe dismissal of privacy concerns is it.
I live in Wisconsin. As I write this, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services vaccine dashboard has a note reading:
"*As of November 2, 2021, children ages 5-11 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. DHS is working to integrate data on vaccinations in the 5-11 age group into the COVID-19 Vaccines for Wisconsin Residents dashboard and will make that data available as soon as possible."
I don't have kids, but I cannot emphasize how freaking frosty I would feel if I were trying to understand the health risks my young children faced at school when, in our declared state of emergency, people can't get a database updated in a *month*. My faith in such declarations is not enhanced by this lackadaisical ineptitude.
(and it's not as if 5-11 approval appeared on 11/2 as some existential shock to the system, we knew this was coming further months in advance)
In my own experience, the government's incompetence is limitless. I served on active duty in the army for three years and I am currently in the NJ National Guard. On active duty many of our vehicles would not start or could not be driven for another reason. People pretended to train more than we actually trained. Our facilities were left to degrade, basic maintenance just wasn't done. Money flowed down the drain in an unimaginable way. In the NJ Guard, I signed a contract promising a bonus for a three year contract. I was supposed to be paid one half the sum (less taxes) in May of 2020 and the second Half in April 2021. I have not received even the first payment. I am consistently told "they are working on it" and "it is coming soon". Incredibly frustrating.
I am somebody who got a J&J dose in March and then got a somewhat illicit Pfizer dose in July. California, at least, seems to have correctly counted me: my electronic vax card shows both doses (I assume because i showed my driver's license in both cases).
I think you’re underestimating the size of the privacy zealot community. A lot of people are very concerned about this for reasons I can’t quite grasp.