[Marxism] Why Eurostat drives me mad

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Fri Mar 18 13:51:10 MST 2005


People have suggested to me at times, why not write more about Europe 
instead of the USA, because after all you live in Amsterdam. And it's true, 
I have devoted some time to trying to diagnose European trends better etc. 
But getting good relevant information about Europe can be a hell of a 
problem.

Take Eurostat for example. They have a website which is beautifully useless. 
There are dozens of sophisticated options in the screens, but when you 
actually try to retrieve a simple data set (in my case, an annual series 
from 1994 of the harmonised consumer price index prepared for the Eurozone 
and EU-25) the thing conks out.

The people who designed the Eurostat site must have been stoned. They have 
no idea about how to present information to people who have the use that 
information - by contrast, the US Department of Labor for example shows a 
constant upward learning curve, and has improved its data supply 
arrangements to make it easier for people to use.

This, you see, is the kind of thing that irritates many European citizens 
like me - for all the chatter about "European unification" and "transparent 
operations", the Euro-bureaucracy often doesn't know what its priorities 
should be in those areas that really matter to people. They talk about 
informing the public, but when you actually want precise data which you know 
has already been produced by publicly-funded institutions, you either cannot 
get it, or (in the case of the OECD) you have to fork out considerable cash 
to get it.

It is not that the data is not there - many technical specialists have 
already done a lot of hard work to produce it - but that it is simply not 
easily accessible to citizens, despite all the technical possibilities that 
exist for easy access. If it wasn't for the childish stupidities of EU 
communications policy, you'd almost think it was a conspiracy to dumb people 
down.

Feeling chagrined, I mused tonight that the European "knowledge economy" 
seems to mean basically that a bunch of petty-bourgeois anal retentives 
monopolise access to information collected at taxpayers' expense, and in 
some cases try to sell it back to you. Imagine what would happen if the 
information was freely and directly  accessible - most of the "bubble" of 
middle-men, intermediaries and "information managers" beyond actually 
operative librarians, statisticians, webmasters, posties and archivists etc. 
would be out of a job.

Maybe it takes a REVOLUTION to get better information about the EU and 
improve its communications policy.

Jurriaan







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