It seems to me that experience, knowledge and achievement should be acknowledged and rewarded, not ignored.
A license to operate in a publicly-owned
, taxpayer supported
radio service is NOT a "reward"
for "good deeds", Jim.
It's simply the granting of privileges to operate after someone demonstrates a proscribed level of competency to do so. Period.
All goals are "artificially created". There's nothing wrong with acknowledging achievement. Merit badges are a good thing.
It all depends on who benefits from the "achievement".
As I've said, all such "achievement" nonsense has NO place in a taxpayer-supported, government-administered institution whose regulator's sole authority is simply to regulate
. Clearly, the underlying goal of incentive licensing was to forcefully "educate" us with the aim of turning us all into budding RF Engineers. And THAT was done primarily so as to further a whole plethora of government social and economic goals of the day.
Jim, YOU, of all people posting here, should well remember what else was going on in the rest of the USA when all this "incentive" nonsense in our Service came about.
Remember the "missile gap" of the 1960s when our government bureaucrats were throwing anything and everything at the wall to stimulate a country-wide effort to crank out hordes of mechanical, electrical and RF engineers? Obvoiusly, "incentive licensing" in our radio service was made all the more palatable because of its relationship to the backdrop of the "missile gap" paranoia of the day.
But, it is important to remember that, besides the "missile gap" being later shown to be overwhelmingly in the US's favor, all
that nonsense happened NEARLY 50 YEARS AGO! What possible regulatory purpose is still being served...in the 21st Century...by indefinitely keeping all that "missile gap derived" nonsense fully in place today? The Soviet Union has long
since gone the way of the dinosaur, and most of our electronic components and equipment now originate from the Far East.
Clearly, the other
underlying goal of all this "incentive" nonsense at the time was to line the pockets of the ARRL who, if memory serves correctly, were on the financial "ropes" at the time. Indeed, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the League has been cashing in on "incentive licensing" ever since by selling tens (if not hundreds and hundreds) of thousands of copies of their so-called "upgrade" materials along the way.
Calling FCC officials "gormless government bureaucrats" isn't likely to get them to see things your way.
And all the while we hams continue to worship the FCC as some kind of "demi-God" from whom all blessings flow, you are correct, they certainly won't see things "my way", "our way" or ANY way other than what the FCC, in their isolated "Ivory Tower" decides to do...or not to do.
As I've said, their whole "petition" process is little more than a bureaucratic farce. Most "petitions" end up in "File 13" if they in any way go against already established FCC policy.
Unfortunately, ALL of us seem to have collectively lost sight of the fact that the FCC is nothing more than yet another US Government regulatory
agency. And they have never
been granted the statutory authority to set themselves up to "educate" anyone. What's more, since we taxpayers pay their salaries, these clowns all work for YOU AND ME and NOT
the other way around.
Now, I don't know about you, but, from my own personal perspective, I
highly RESENT being manipulated, controlled and, in effect, abused
by a bunch of gormless government bureaucrats who remain seemingly hell-bent on using we hams (and prospective hams) as unwitting pawns to further their own social and economic policy goals as outlined in their Part 97.1….particularly all that "maintaining and expanding a reservoir of trained operators and technical experts" nonsense.
In my book, ALL of that eyewash remains in DIRECT CONTRAVENTION of the "personal aim" and "amateur" spirit (not to mention the "non pecuniary interest" intent) of our International Telecommunications Union (ITU) regulators for our Service. And the FCC has been getting away with all of this internatinally illegal foolishness for decades
largely because US hams collectively 'bought into" all that nonsense in the first place and have continued to worship it all as "the Gospel truth" ever since.
Indeed, it's often been said that we don't get the government we deserve
, we get the government (in this case the FCC) we allow
And speaking of "merit badges" - what you're proposing is an end to the vanity call program. In fact, what you're saying is that we should all have randomly-issued callsigns of the same format. Because anything else is a "merit badge" in the form of a distinctive callsign.
No, Jim, my proposal doesn’t mean the "end of the vanity call program".
However, if you mean, the demise of the vanity call program tied to one's license class
, then yes, all that snobbery would
most certainly (and thankfully!) come to an end.
On the other hand, if you mean being allowed to apply for another available call sign instead
of (or addition to) the one you are currently issued, then that program could (and should) most certainly continue.
Indeed, many other countries (like Canada, which, by the way, never
bought into all of our "incentive licensing" nonsense) now allow even "wet behind the ears" NEW hams to pick the suffixes of their call signs even on their very first license application!
Can WE now do that in the United States of America?
What's more, many other counties will also assign any
available call sign in their ham call database… for a fee. In fact, in Canada, you can have (and use) any number
of call signs...some paid for with a fee and some granted as a consequence of moving from one call sign area to another. And ALL of them remain valid and usable...for life.
of that be done in the USA nowadays?
So, again, what I'm proposing would still
allow those so inclined to obtain another (or a "distinctive" call sign). The nature and appearance of the call sign just wouldn’t be tied to one's license class.
And that's how it is. Once a license is earned, it's up to the individual amateur to decide what to learn and when to learn it. As long as an amateur follows the rules and submits timely applications, FCC will renew that amateur's license without any additional testing.
No argument…except that, as I've said, a license to operate in our Service isn't something to be "earned".
Our licenses are granted
after someone simply displays a specified level of competency
. They were never in intended by the ITU to be "earned" as some kind of "reward" for a person's educational "achievement". And there's distinct difference in how those two concepts are perceived by both our regulators and the licensee.
There have been proposals before FCC to grant full privileges to non-Extras in recent years. In every case FCC has pointed out that the exams aren't that involved, and that if the hams really want full privileges they can just pass the test.
All of which is simply an expression of yet MORE bureaucratic laziness on the part of the FCC for their apparent decision NOT to comply with other applicable federal laws as they relate to our Service. There's simply no valid excuse
for such blatant regulatory neglect that would pass muster in a GAO audit or stand up in any federal court of law today.
But why stop at General? Why not give full privileges to all US hams? That's what you're really arguing for. What's the fundamental difference between operating a transmitter on the low end of 20 meters and the low end of 2 meters? If we accept your line of thought, why shouldn't ALL US hams have full privileges?
Well, first of all, my suggestions don't have to pass muster with YOU
Clearly, the lazy bureaucrats at the FCC aren't
now doing the job we taxpayers have directed them to do...which is to fully comply with the ITU regulations and changes in the the US Federal Code. They simply aren't doing doing so. And they continue
to hide behind the worn out excuse that the status quo is "what we hams want". What they interpret as "what most hams want" is what the ARRL TELLS
them "most hams want", even though the League's (now slowly dwindling) membership constitutes only about 25% of all licensed US hams. 25% isn't "most".
But, even so, if I
had perpetuated such "half-baked" excuses as the sole
reason for non-compliance with the rest of the Federal Code at any time during my 20 years as a US Government comptroller professional, I would have been fired on the spot. In my estimation, such bureaucratic laziness now goes well
beyond simple regulatory malfeasance to the point of being blatant, benign neglect of a duly authorized radio service.
Any way you cut it, that's criminal.
This becomes particularly true when the FCC could
very quickly (and, I believe, very easily) get rid of a HUGE part of the blatant systemic discrimination in our licensing system and all without changing anyone's license class or reissuing anyone's license.
In fact, if they really
wanted to, they could do it all with just a simple stoke of a pen.
All the FCC would need to need do is to simply REMOVE all the artificially regulated sub-bands (and sub-sub bands) on HF and then grant anyone
holding a General, Advanced or Extra Class license identical
operating privileges. At the same time, ANYONE could apply for ANY available call sign under their so-called "vanity" call sign system.
This would allow all
of our bands to revert back to their underlying ITU maximum emission bandwidth criteria, which is, as I've said, the way many other countries (like Canada) already do it.
Under this scenario, NOBODY would "lose" their current operating privileges. In fact, this approach would (finally) recognize the fact that there IS virtually no OPERATIONAL
difference between the operating privileges now granted to a General Class licensee and those of Advanced and Extra Class licensee in our Service today.
And, of course, this would also mean that it would once again be left up to we hams
to decide "what goes where" on our HF bands, just like we now do on our VHF and above bands…something we have, by the way, ALREADY been doing…. for decades
. And THAT sky has yet to fall.
thing the remaining Advanced and Extra class license holders would now have under this new system would be "bragging rights", which, from a legal and regulatory standpoint, are largely irrelevant anyway...except, of course, in the narrow minds of those who have been using their Advanced and Extra Class licenses as US Government permission to look down their upturned noses at everyone else in our hobby. Under this new plan, all of THAT snobbery would now lose its US Government sanctioned underpinnings.
But, operationally, all three licenses would now become virtually identical…which, in reality, is what they already are
KB1SF / VA3KSF