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22 Jänner 2007

Pass me the port!

OK. Maybe I'm too blase about the new US passport requirements since my internationally mysterious blue travel document has accompanied me on many a journey for ages. To be honest, I can't remember what it's like NOT to have a passport, or to not go through the expense of getting it renewed (yes this includes shopping around for who has the cheapest passport photos, because those are always so sexy). In short, this bugger has been a travel expense and necessity, and I simply forget that many Americans have never had or needed to have a passport to travel certain places. Until now, dunh DUNH!

Naturally, I have appreciated the convenience of entering/leaving Canada and Mexico with nary a document but a driver's license and a smile; however, as much as I hate to say it, times they are a-changin'. I understand and support the new requirements for all persons entering the United States to carry a valid passport, soon to be mandatory for air, land, and sea travel.

But I'm reading reports that people are complaining about this requirement: from US citizens because getting a new passport is pricey, and from foreign tourist boards because of the potential decrease of Americans travelling to their lands.

Here's my quick and dirty Most Interesting comment on the first complainer group. I liken this 'Thing' to my 'Quandry' with cigarette smoking bans in the US, where a component of the argument to curb public smoking seems a bit off: whilst cigarette smoking is prohibited almost everywhere, the SALE and PRODUCTION of cigarettes keeps on churning. WHY? Someone is making out like a banshee here.

In a similar vein, why not address the problem people seem to have with The New Passport Thing, ergo, the high price. Can't this cost be made LESS? Because otherwise, with respect to the labor involved in creating and administering a new passport, this endeavor seems to be one where someone is making out pretty darn well.

Now, if requiring US citizens by law to carry this travel document to re-enter the country, how about if the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department subsidize passport costs more heavily? I know, I know, a trillion+ dollars in debt for what but come ON brother, spare a dime! I don't mean making getting a passport super cheap, because then there'd be the problem we have with false driver's licenses. Licenses are so rediculously cheap to get that anyone can get one. OK, OK, I hear you, a license is not proof of citizenship, but hopefully you get the idea. I bet if the cost of getting a passport for a US adult were reduced from $90+ to $50, there might be less complaining. Because 50 clams is still 'not cheap' but also 'not so freaking expensive' either. I wonder if this would help.

And hello Americans, shouldn't we have to be passport-carrying citizens like everyone else in the world if we want to enjoy the privilege of international travel?

On a side note, maybe now some Americans will realize that Canada is a foreign country (I'm speaking to the New Yorker I observed in New Brunswick who chewed out a clerk for giving Canadian change back when he paid with US dollars. The noive!), and maybe some Canadians will stop assuming that we are clueless isolationists BEFORE they get to know us, hastily assuming we don't give a rat's hiney about their fair land*.

But enough about that. I'm a big fan of Canada. And an even bigger fan of my US passport. It's gotten me out of a lot of sticky wickets, and for that I am hunbled and grateful.

Your thoughts on this issue? I'd be especially be curious to hear the takes of the non-passport holders. And don't be a lurker, I know you want to comment, even if this whole conversion to login via Google is a pain in the arse. GO!
*One fun one is to (a) ask a Canadian the capital of New Brunswick or (b) if you are asking a New Brunswicker or other Maritime, er Atlantic Canadian, go for "So...Manitoba and Winnipeg...which one's the city and which one's the province, huh?" I have it on good authority that these queries will evoke a certain amount of Schadenfreude. I've also found this is true with asking any given Central Pennsylvanian to identify the location of Washington State ("hmm, is that WEST of the Alleghenies?")

My, I need to get a hobby....


At 27 Jänner, 2007 00:56, Anonymous anne said...

I'll keep my ears open for opinions on this matter...It seems like Canada's been highly recommending passports for the past few years, so this doesn't feel at all drastic to me.

signing oot,


At 02 Februar, 2007 11:55, Blogger Gina Grace said...

"hastily assuming we don't give a rat's hiney about their fair land*. "

Wait wait... don't speak for me on this one. I actually don't give a rat's hiney. I leave that all to my dear friend Kelly, who has assumed the burden of extending her highest graces of female hospitality to the RCMP's. So I figure, I'm off the hook.

At 02 Februar, 2007 17:17, Blogger Lisaopolis said...

I am not including you in my royal 'we', don't worry now...we can't all care about Canada, nor SHOULD we. There are lots of other places.


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