If it’s shocking that there are stateless people in the modern world,

it’s even more shocking that it’s not uncommon at all. You would expect it in refugee situations of outright war, of course, but not otherwise. This is part of the problem, of course. Nations aren’t anxious to hand out citizenship and its benefits to casual wanderers. The world has only recently had firm borders, lines on a map defining states. They’ve never played much of a role in the lives of tribal people. Tribal people don’t get stamps in their passports when they cross borders. Most don’t even know the exact date of their birth, nor the full extent of their families. Morals break down easily in the outback, as do nationalities. In Thailand you have to prove your citizenship constantly, in the form of a national identification card and house registration. This promotes home ownership, of course, rendering anything else ‘not official’. Did I mention that rental rates are very reasonable in Thailand? Of course, now that Thailand has moved up the economic ladder, illegals do much of the work that Thai nationals won’t, or at least not for cheap. More than anything else, it seems that governments must constantly justify their existence by enforcing the rules and reinforcing the boundaries. Only an innate love of bureaucracy threatens freedom more than Communism or Islam. The political choice has always been freedom vs. control; the only question is ‘whose’?

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