It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bruce Sterling's Problem

People who have no property don't seem to register as extant.
The "Exotic Enemies Do Get Married" Campaign
by Bruce Sterling and Jasmina Tesanovic
Surprising news has just arrived for us at our American home address. Although we have been married for four years now, the American Immigration services can't find any paper trail for the two of us.
We have no joint bank account, no insurance accounts and no joint children. The authorities therefore suspect that our marriage is a phony "Green Card marriage," and they would like to have Jasmina deported from the USA.
This is not too entirely surprising a mistake, since we're an Internet couple. By our nature, we just don't generate much paper.
We use electronic banking. Bruce uses American banks, while Jasmina uses Serbian banks. Why would anyone want to make his or her alien spouse use an American or Serbian bank?
There's no reason for us to jointly speculate in American real-estate, since we each already own places to live. No sane European would ever want American health insurance. And so forth.
Like a lot of geek couples, we live out of our cellphones and laptops. Furniture, wedding china, massive home improvement loans: we don't even go there. We have a light material footprint that'll generally fit onto a couple of rollaboards.
We're nevertheless a genuine married couple. Any reasonable Internet person would recognize this fact in two minutes.
It's one thing to have to establish a credit rating to buy a house; it's another to have to do so to establish existence under the law. Presumably, because Bruce is well-known and will find lots of people to attest to his marriage, he and Jasmina will prevail.

Now you can't accuse Bruce of really living lightly on the earth; he spends a lot of time on long distance airlines and his carbon footprint is not the daintiest. But the implications for less well-connected and greener folk are a matter of concern. Participate in the consumer economy. Or don't travel, lest you fall in love. Otherwise the law will separate you from your family. Charming.

Legal rights should not be tied to commercial activity. Doesn't a free market include the freedom not to participate?

2 comments:

Marion Delgado said...

Dear Dr. Tobis:

Re your inquiry of April 5:

"Doesn't a free market include the freedom not to participate?"

After a careful review, we are happy to report we can answer the question straightforwardly:

No.

Let us know if we can be of any further assistance in this matter.

Sincerely

The Market

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

Tesanovic's crime was that she was participating in the wrong market. I mean, Serbian banks? That's just totally un-American!