I just saw this while checking some forum upgrade issues. This is not really true. Yes, where the law requires it (for example, English teachers) you must produce a verifiable degree, but it is not a de facto requirement for just anyone wishing to work in Thailand. I've been meaning to write up an article on this to complement other pages on this site, such as the Tabien Baan page, and cam's guide to PR, because I've learned a lot about this particular issue in the last year or so. There is a lot of duff information on the internet about work permits, citizenship etc, much of it is just copy/paste, where even the original authors didn't really understand what they were writing about. One thing is for sure, having immediate Thai family makes life much easier and the labour department have a lot of discretionary powers where Thai family is involved. Contrary to popular myth on the internet, there aren't even any minimum income requirements for foreigners (the minimum income requirement is for extension of stay on current visa, not work permit, so if you rely on the cash on deposit for that, there is effectively no minimum income requirement). Regarding people with PR, I'm think (but I'm not sure) that if you hold PR status, you are not even restricted by the list of restricted occupations for foreigners (but I've yet to verify this).
I don't think it's meant to be. Whoever profits from the burning, ultimately, the only way to stop the problem is to impose heavy sanctions on those setting the fires. The opium eradication story here is an example of what can be achieved in the north if they set their mind to it, but this is a different problem. It needs heavy enforcement on the ground and in the air, dangling a carrot won't work, it needs a big stick.