My dissertation is a secondary data analysis using a Census Bureau dataset. The dataset in question, the Survey of Income and Program Participants (SIPP) was created in the mid-1980's as a way to measure, nationally, income and use of social welfare programs. The SIPP is a series of longitudinal studies that allows researchers to look at how people's income affects use of social programs, and how policy changes to those programs affects the program users, over time. The dataset oversamples for those in poverty to ensure a useful sample for research.
So, much to my surprise -- or perhaps not really much to my surprise -- a message went out recently on the SIPP listserv stating that the current panel would end early, and the dataset would not be continued. That due to federal budget cuts for FY '07, it was decided to eliminate the SIPP completely, rather than reduce all of the Census Bureau's datasets equally. Perhaps some will see this as a budgetary issue, but it is far more than that.
The current ruling regime in this country doesn't want this particular dataset to continue. Why? Because it's the only national one that tracks the effects of social welfare policy changes on the poor in the U.S. By eliminating this national dataset completely, researchers can't, on a national scale, demonstrate the plight of the poor and the need for existing programs. The current regime doesn't want the world to know how cutbacks affect the poor, nor how badly the programs in question are needed. Therefore, discontinue funding for the only thing that keeps the data in front of our faces -- the national dataset. Then the ruling regime can do what the fuck they want, and no one can tell them how bad what they're doing is -- at least not with data to support their suppositions.
This letter to the President says a bit more.
It just never freakin' ends, does it?
photo from the SIPP home page