Its not just passports Eric. Here in Florida, they changed the drivers licence. Well, they seem to crack right along the magnetic strip. If you are pulled over or questioned by police. They do not have to accept the licence. They may accept it, then give you a ticket for the way it is, broken, by no falut of your own. Two people at work went and got theirs, not even a day went by and the card was broken.
The law may be silly, but its the one we have. I tend to think that the 6 month policy is because you can get a visa ( work or other ) while you are in the country you are in. Some of those visa's are for a longer time than 6 months, so they want you to have a passport that is valid. In 2015 when mine is 6-9 months from exp. date, I will renew.
You are always welcome to our great country. Hope our paths will cross one day, I too will extend my hand in friendship. I'll buy you a beer as well ( soda if you dont drink ).