Should citizenship be earned?

A question from Yahoo! Answers:

A Person born in this country automatically is a citizen. Do you think citizenship should be earned?
Citizenship: Level 1 (minors protected by basic rights-as they are today) Level 2 (adulthood 18 yrs- must pass basic academics and interview – no criminal record)
Level 3 (paid taxes for 5 years, employed for 5 years, community service record, no criminal record)
Level 4 all the above and have established major contributions to humanity through their profession and community work and helping others to advance their citizenship status
[Non-citizens are not afforded the full bill of rights because they haven’t earned them, but are encouraged and aided by everyone to become productive citizens in society]
Citizenship at higher levels allows for more protections, advantages and responsibilities in society. Obviously this is a rough outline – missing many details.

What do you think of the basic idea? Any additional ideas???

The only thing missing is Level 5, the above-the-law ruling class, a member of which can seize anyone’s property or take anyone’s life at will.

Generally speaking, whenever you have a large number of people limited in their rights, they will be inclined to work towards (including, if necessary, fighting for) the abolition of those limitations. So anything less than universal suffrage is likely to generate completely unnecessary political tensions.

Note also that your system is seriously rigged in favor of the wealthy. Community service is very easy to do if you don’t have to work for a living. Avoiding criminal record is also much easier if you are a person of considerable means (you can afford to have sex with minors in Bangkok and smoke pot in Amsterdam).

Additional (usually, not-so-good) ideas? Sure…

In the 19th century, all democracies of the world practiced property requirements (only property owners could vote). Also, women and ethnic minorities were generally prohibited from both voting and holding office.

In South Africa under apartheid, there actually was a three-level system; the Blacks had less rights than Indians, and Indians, less than Whites.

In 1930s, there was a considerable debate in the Indian independence movement as to whether or not the untouchables should be made second-class citizens upon achievement of independence. Mahatma Gandhi even went on a “fast unto death” in 1932, when the British made their Communal Award and granted separate electorates for the untouchables.

In his science-fiction novel “Starship Troopers”, Robert Heinlein describes a society where full citizenship (complete with the right to vote and hold office) can only be earned one way — through government (mostly military) service. Full citizenship could only be exercised after an honorable discharge from service (i.e., no additional rights were bestowed on active members of the service).

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