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Author Topic: Bring back the Advanced Class  (Read 48091 times)
K9AIM
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« Reply #105 on: July 17, 2013, 09:26:27 AM »


it's comments like yours that invite tech-savvy youngsters (our target audience if our Service is to have any hope of survival beyond the next few decades) to increasingly view our Service as the "Radio Amish".


in many ways that is what we are, isn't it? the internet has made radio communication almost akin to using a horse instead of a car for transportation.  those who do, generally have an appreciation of the 'old way.'  that said, there are options within amateur radio for tech-saavy youth to explore and enjoy. 

there are plenty of instances here in these forums where i have gone out of my way to say i am well aware that there 20 wpm code tested hams who are lids and non-code-tested hams who are top of the class, so you would be mistaken to lump me in with that absurd group of hams who feel no-code hams are not bonafide hams.

i agree that code-testing, like the designated hitter in American League baseball, is now extinct with little chance of resuscitation.
i still see merits in both of the older ways of doing things, even if they are not coming back.  there are advantages and disadvantages to any change; i am just more tuned in to what i take to be the the disadvantages than you are.  73


 
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KB1SF
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« Reply #106 on: July 17, 2013, 12:23:16 PM »

i still see merits in both of the older ways of doing things, even if they are not coming back.  there are advantages and disadvantages to any change; i am just more tuned in to what i take to be the the disadvantages than you are.

To the contrary, Robert, I'm well aware of the HUGE damage that keeping those "older ways of doing things" as hard and fast licensing requirements in place LONG after they served any useful regulatory purpose has done to the growth (if not the very survival) of our Service going forward.  

My only hope is that the sweeping regulatory changes that are now happening in our Service (such as the wholesale elimination of the Morse testing requirement) have not come way to late in our history to reverse the looming downward trend in our long-term growth due to the increasing average age of our ham population.

In that case, the mortal damage to our Service may have already been done.

That is, these long-needed changes may have now come WAY too late in the game to keep enough tech-savvy youngsters...the lifeblood of our Service going forward...interested enough to join our ranks to offset the number of ever-aging "oldsters" in our Service who are now dying in increasing numbers.

Unfortunately, only time will tell.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF / VA3OB
kb1sf.blosgspot.com
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 12:28:48 PM by KB1SF » Logged
K9AIM
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« Reply #107 on: July 17, 2013, 03:05:39 PM »

the number of hams has been growing for a long time and so I am not sure your concerns are warranted.  Morse code is also alive and well and transceiver manufacturers continue to include CW as a mainstream mode, so i am not sure about what you claim is the "HUGE damage" caused by keeping and even exercising the older ways of doing things. perhaps you will argue CW is still alive and well because morse code fluency is no longer required to obtain any license, but i think that is a reach at best.  

I am 51 and have been licensed since 1976, I wonder what the median age of US and world hams is?  There are no such public stats, are there?  if we die out and ham radio goes the way of the dodo bird so be it, but i don't see that happening anytime soon.
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KB1SF
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« Reply #108 on: July 17, 2013, 04:15:43 PM »

the number of hams has been growing for a long time and so I am not sure your concerns are warranted.

I agree that our gross statistics do tend to indicate that our Service is "growing" in the USA at the moment.  

However, when you toss in the fact that, according to the ARRL, the average age of even our newly licensed hams in the US is now pushing 50, and the average age of the rest of us was already pushing 60 the last time the FCC publicly released such statistics, if these trends continue it's only a matter of time before our death rate outpaces our newcomer rate.  

Even a casual look at the expanding "Silent Key" page that appears in QST every month really makes me wonder just how credible all those purported "growth" statistics really are.

It's also important to remember that, in the USA, we are all on a 10 year license renewal cycle.  Again, this means that the glowing "growth" statistics that N2EY and others continually like to banter about were only FULLY valid 10 years ago!  God only knows how many hams who are still listed in that totals have already died, or have decided to walk away from amateur radio, never to return since they last renewed their licenses.  And, again, God only knows how many MORE of those aggregate totals may still decide to renew their licenses at the next 10 year point, but have long since decided to move on to other hobby pursuits.

Unfortunately, there are many more negative (but yet unseen) trends that are present today in the aggregate population statistics for our Service that weren't in play when you and I were first licensed back in the 1970s.  As a result, the aggregate totals being bandied about today don't even come close to giving us a complete picture of actual population trends in our Service.

Quote
Morse code is also alive and well and transceiver manufacturers continue to include CW as a mainstream mode, so i am not sure about what you claim is the "HUGE damage" caused by keeping and even exercising the older ways of doing things. perhaps you will argue CW is still alive and well because morse code fluency is no longer required to obtain any license, but i think that is a reach at best.  

I am 51 and have been licensed since 1976, I wonder what the median age of US and world hams is?  There are no such public stats, are there?  if we die out and ham radio goes the way of the dodo bird so be it, but i don't see that happening anytime soon.

Perhaps.  

But, as I said, only time will tell.

So how about you and I agree to meet here in 10 or 15 years time to see who got it right?

73,

Keith
KB1SF /VA3KSF / VA3OB
kb1sf.blogspot.com
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 04:27:47 PM by KB1SF » Logged
N0IU
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« Reply #109 on: July 17, 2013, 05:12:49 PM »

My only hope is that the sweeping regulatory changes that are now happening in our Service (such as the wholesale elimination of the Morse testing requirement) have not come way to late in our history to reverse the looming downward trend in our long-term growth due to the increasing average age of our ham population.

Now happening???

How long have you been sleeping under a rock?

Its not like the Morse code proficiency tests were eliminated recently. The 13 and 20 WPM Morse code proficiency tests were eliminated on April 15, 2000 and the 5 WPM Morse code proficiency test was eliminated on February 23, 2007.
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KB1SF
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« Reply #110 on: July 17, 2013, 05:19:54 PM »

Now happening???

How long have you been sleeping under a rock?

Its not like the Morse code proficiency tests were eliminated recently. The 13 and 20 WPM Morse code proficiency tests were eliminated on April 15, 2000 and the 5 WPM Morse code proficiency test was eliminated on February 23, 2007.

As the old saying goes....you ain't seen nuttin yet.

My hunch is that regulation by bandwidth rather than by license class and operating mode is next up for serious FCC review.  They can't continue to perpetuate the systemically discriminatory (and therefore illegal) licensing system that's now in place in our Service indefinitely.

Stay tuned.

73,

Keith
KB1SF
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N0IU
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« Reply #111 on: July 17, 2013, 05:57:17 PM »

As the old saying goes....you ain't seen nuttin yet.

My hunch is that regulation by bandwidth rather than by license class and operating mode is next up for serious FCC review.  They can't continue to perpetuate the systemically discriminatory (and therefore illegal) licensing system that's now in place in our Service indefinitely.

Stay tuned.

73,

Keith
KB1SF

That is very interesting Keith. I would love to follow the progression of this new totally fair licensing system you are proposing.

When exactly did you file your Petition for Rulemaking with the FCC? I know these usually have a 30 period in which the public can comment on whether the FCC should grant or deny the petition. Did I miss the date?

Since I could not locate a Petition for Rulemaking under your name, I thought that perhaps you decided to file a lawsuit against the FCC since incentive licensing is discriminatory and therefore illegal. I checked all of the sources that I know that tracks lawsuits against federal agencies, but I could not find anything involving the amateur radio incentive licensing system.

Or maybe you just expect the FCC to read these posts on eHam or read your blog and decide that it is time to take action. If that is your strategy, don't hold your breath. No, wait a minute... go ahead and hold your breath.
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KB1SF
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« Reply #112 on: July 17, 2013, 07:58:55 PM »

Or maybe you just expect the FCC to read these posts on eHam or read your blog and decide that it is time to take action. If that is your strategy, don't hold your breath. No, wait a minute... go ahead and hold your breath.

I shall certainly consider your boorish suggestion.

However, my hunch is that the FCC, ARRL, (et al) are now simply waiting for enough "regulatory fundamentalists" within our (and their) ranks to die off so that this ever-shrinking (but yet still highly vocal) minority of firmly entrenched Luddites in our Service in the United States won't (once again) derail the ARRL's and FCC's attempts to enact such long-needed reforms.

And, perhaps you are correct.  Even though I'm an American citizen and still hold a US amateur radio license, I now live and do most of my operating from the Canadian side of the border. So I could (and probably should) care less about all the systemically discriminatory nonsense you hams south of the border STILL must endure in the horrifically arcane, license class and operating mode-based, US licensing system for our Service.

So, in closing, let me once again offer my services as an Accredited Examiner here on the Canadian side if any of you blokes still want to have a "Morse Code" endorsement put on a ham radio license.  I can (and do) still administer such exams under the Canadian rules.  Indeed, just a few weeks ago I administered both the Canadian Basic and the Canadian Morse Code exams to an American ham from from Cincinnati.  He passed both exams with flying colors, by the way.

Thankfully, back when the ITU made such testing optional internationally, Industry Canada ALSO made the Morse test an option...not a hard and fast regulatory requirement....for full-featured access to HF.  In that sense, it's simply one of many ways Canadian hams can now gain access to HF. 

Indeed, unlike the hand-wringing and wails of protest from the "regulatory fundamentalist" crowd in the States when mandatory Morse testing for an HF license went the way of the dinosaur, there was nary a peep from the "rank and file" up here when those changes were adopted.

Perhaps that's because Industry Canada left the Morse test in place....but as an option.


73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF / VA3OB
kb1sf.blogspot.com
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 08:34:19 PM by KB1SF » Logged
N0IU
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« Reply #113 on: July 17, 2013, 08:17:31 PM »

So in other words, you are just going to sit on the sidelines and wait for other people to take care of the problem. If you, Keith C Baker KB1SF / VA3KSF / VA3OB are not part of the solution, then YOU are part of the problem.

If this really matters to you... if you honestly and truly think that incentive licensing is illegal, then why don't you set the wheels in motion and file a Petition for Rulemaking?

If you are not going to do it, then all of your bitching and moaning and complaining and whining are just hollow words, nothing more.


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KB1SF
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« Reply #114 on: July 17, 2013, 08:51:10 PM »

If this really matters to you... if you honestly and truly think that incentive licensing is illegal, then why don't you set the wheels in motion and file a Petition for Rulemaking?

Primarily because I know such a "petition" will go absolutely nowhere.  

And that's because I know (from my experiences as a former President and BOD member of AMSAT-NA) that the FCC's stupid "rulemaking" process is little more than a bureaucratic farce.  And all you have to do is look at how they rammed Access BPL down our throats (despite the wails of protest and repeated "petitions" from the ARRL) to see that farce in action.

And, besides, as I noted above, enough of our die-hard Luddite contingent who would vehemently oppose such sweeping change have yet to die off.  In that sense, the timing isn't (yet) right.

Quote
If you are not going to do it, then all of your bitching and moaning and complaining and whining are just hollow words, nothing more.

Perhaps.  

But it would seem I've certainly gotten under YOUR skin!

And in the process, I've set a whole host of other readers to thinking about these issues as well.  Indeed, I've received a ton of supporting e-mails from readers who don't care to wrestle with those who firmly believe that mandatory Morse testing and "incentive licensing" were the best things that ever happened to our hobby.

Simply getting people to think about these issues has always been my simple goal. And judging from the over 17,000 hits on this thread, it would now appear that my goal has once again been accomplished.....in spades.

Cheers!

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF / VA3OB
kb1sf.blogspot.com
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 08:57:06 PM by KB1SF » Logged
N0IU
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« Reply #115 on: July 18, 2013, 03:58:52 AM »

The only thing that got under my skin was how ridiculous this whole notion of the discriminatory and illegal nature of incentive licensing is.

Just because 17,000+ people read this thread does not mean that anyone actually gave it that much thought other than not to waste time replying to it.

No, I haven't read all of the posts and perhaps someone already made this point, but amateur radio is a privilege, not a right. And no matter what the ARES/RACES crowd want you to believe, it is a hobby, nothing more. Especially with the Internet, Part 97 is readily available for anyone to read prior to deciding whether or not someone wants to become licensed. The rules for entry and earning additional privileges are completely transparent even to the point of publishing all of the questions and answers to the test questions. If you don't like the rules, then don't get a license. Pure and simple. No one is denying you your rights.

Yes, a certain level of literacy in the English language is required in order to take the tests, but children under 10 years old have licenses so this does not seem to be any sort of formidable barrier of any kind.

You might as well say that the cost for getting on the air is discriminatory because not everyone who wants to become an amateur radio operator can afford it. And just like Part 97, catalogs and forums such as this one are readily available so there should be no surprises when it comes to the cost of being an amateur radio operator.

I say once again, this hobby is a privilege, not a right.

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N2EY
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« Reply #116 on: July 18, 2013, 06:10:37 AM »

I agree that our gross statistics do tend to indicate that our Service is "growing" in the USA at the moment.

"At the moment"? The numbers have been growing since 2007. Fewer than 655,000 then, over 713,000 now. Even more illuminating, the percentage of Extras and Generals has increased dramatically while the percentage of Techs has slightly dropped.

However, when you toss in the fact that, according to the ARRL, the average age of even our newly licensed hams in the US is now pushing 50, and the average age of the rest of us was already pushing 60 the last time the FCC publicly released such statistics, if these trends continue it's only a matter of time before our death rate outpaces our newcomer rate.

Oh puh-leez.

This nonsense about "average age" is complete....organic fertilizer. FCC doesn't collect age data and hasn't for years. The definition of "average" is never given (mean? median?) nor is the distribution (bell curve? exponential? something else?)

If somebody REALLY wants to make noise about "average age", let them post REAL statistics for ALL US hams. And compare it to years and decades past. Until that is done, it's all hand-waving and spin.

Even a casual look at the expanding "Silent Key" page that appears in QST every month really makes me wonder just how credible all those purported "growth" statistics really are.

Look back 10, 20, 30 years and the page is just as big. Note too that the SK page ONLY includes verified deaths.

It's also important to remember that, in the USA, we are all on a 10 year license renewal cycle.  Again, this means that the glowing "growth" statistics that N2EY and others continually like to banter about were only FULLY valid 10 years ago!

NO IT DOESN'T.

We've been on a 10 year license term since 1983 - 30 years ago. The license database has ALWAYS included hams who were SKs or who had lost interest. The database was just as inaccurate 10 years ago as today.

 God only knows how many hams who are still listed in that totals have already died, or have decided to walk away from amateur radio, never to return since they last renewed their licenses.  And, again, God only knows how many MORE of those aggregate totals may still decide to renew their licenses at the next 10 year point, but have long since decided to move on to other hobby pursuits.

Which is the same as it has been for 30 years.

This is obvious stuff to anyone who really understands the rules, Keith. I suspect that you don't.

Unfortunately, there are many more negative (but yet unseen) trends that are present today in the aggregate population statistics for our Service that weren't in play when you and I were first licensed back in the 1970s.  As a result, the aggregate totals being bandied about today don't even come close to giving us a complete picture of actual population trends in our Service.

Nor did they back then.

The REAL problems we face have nothing to do with the license tests, structure, or Morse Code. The REAL problems we face are:

- Lack of publicity
- Lack of "ham friendly" houses and cars (HOAs, CC&Rs, warranties, RFI/EMI)
- Perceived high cost of equipment

Fix those and you'll see even more growth.


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KB1SF
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« Reply #117 on: July 18, 2013, 06:24:50 AM »

The only thing that got under my skin was how ridiculous this whole notion of the discriminatory and illegal nature of incentive licensing is.

Perhaps that's because you've never been involved (in a legal sense) with federal systemic discrimination case law in the United States.  I have.  And if you had done so, I believe you'd change your tune.  

Or, as the popular author and PBS lecturer Wayne Dyer puts it, "The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don't know anything about."

Quote
Just because 17,000+ people read this thread does not mean that anyone actually gave it that much thought other than not to waste time replying to it.

Ditto the above.

Quote
The rules for entry and earning additional privileges are completely transparent even to the point of publishing all of the questions and answers to the test questions. If you don't like the rules, then don't get a license. Pure and simple. No one is denying you your rights.

To the contrary, under current US equal access law, if the entire testing structure is systemically discriminatory, it doesn't matter how widely the questions and answers are published.  

It's also important to remember that, with equal access law, a person does not have to prove they've been unfairly discriminated against in a court of law.  All that's legally required is proof that a SYSTEM of discrimination exists in the way people are treated within that system.  Hence the term "systemic discrimination".  Or, more specifically, if a federal "test" serves no REGULATORY purpose or fill a regulatory NEED...then it's illegal under these 1990-era laws.

But, rather than give you some examples of where I'm coming from, may I suggest you and the rest of our readers simply download the Extra Class question pool (or take an online Extra Class exam or two) and see for yourselves what I'm talking about.  

That is, I suggest you go through the questions in that question pool one by one while asking yourself: "Does this question pertain to knowedges and skills that directly relate to safely and courteously exercising operational privileges that have already been granted to Technician and/or General Class licensees?"  

And, if your truthful answer to that question is "yes", then the next question you should be asking yourself is:  "Why is this question even in the Extra Class examination pool in the first place?"

What's more, for those questions that DO somehow relate to the specific operational activities that require an Extra Class license, you might then ask yourself what, if anything, that question has to do with safely and courteously operating in the last few KHz of our HF bands.  

That is, what overriding regulatory NEED is fulfilled by an applicant having such "extra" knowledge that yet another, 50-question exam is required in order for them to be granted access to those last few, so-called "exclusive" slices of HF radio spectrum?  

Or (as is frequently the case) is the requirement for all that "extra" knowledge simply part and parcel of some arbitrary decision made long ago by some gormless, 1950s-era, FCC bureaucrat (under pressure from his ARRL lobbyists) to artificially wall off portions of our internationally allocated amateur radio frequencies in an attempt to motivate people to learn more about RF theory and practice by stroking their egos?  

What's more, while you all are going through this exercise, it is important to once again remember that the FCC has always been nothing more than a US Government-funded, taxpayer supported REGULATORY agency.  They are NOT (and never have been) chartered as a college or university and have never been granted any legal authority (or professional certification) either by Congress or the Executive Branch of the US Government to set themselves up as one.  

So, once again I ask: Where in the International rules for our "self training" Service does it say that such "achievement-based", so-called "incentive" nonsense is required…or even allowed… under international law…as part and parcel of a licensing system for our Service?

Indeed, as many of the people who are still trying (in vain) to defend the "old order", the truth is that, if the content and comprehensiveness of our Extra Class exam were confined to strictly examining only those additional operational privileges granted solely to Extra Class licensees (as a myriad of 1990s-era US equal access law dictates that it must) about the only thing left that could be legally examined is where the new Extra Class sub-band limits are and how one goes about requesting an Extra Class call sign.  

But, even the procedure for requesting a different, so-called "exclusive" Extra Class call sign is accomplished when an applicant fills out his or her application form for an examination to upgrade!  

And that activity happens even before they sit down to take the exam!

What's more, when it comes to administering exams to others, keep in mind that General Class licensees can also now serve as Volunteer Examiners in the United States.  So, a requirement that one possess an Extra Class license in order to be able to give exams doesn't wash either.  Indeed, the only reason an Extra Class license is required to administer exams to other Extra Class applicants is because the "Extra" license class still exists in our Service!

So, as I've said, my hunch is that if the FCC and the NCVEC question pool committee were following both the spirit and the letter of US equal access law, they would be very hard pressed to come up with even 10 or 15 questions for the Extra exam pool if the subject matter of those questions was limited solely to the added operational privileges an Extra Class license grants in our Service.  

All of which once again begs the obvious question that I've been asking of people in these forums for the better part of the last three years:  What overriding regulatory NEED is served by even having a so-called "Extra Class" license in our Service in the first place?

The bottom line here is that, under US equal access law, if a federally sanctioned examination for a federal license doesn't fill a regulatory NEED, then it's unfairly discriminatory....and therefore, illegal.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF / VA3OB
kb1sf.blogspot.com
« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 07:19:52 AM by KB1SF » Logged
KB1SF
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« Reply #118 on: July 18, 2013, 06:46:26 AM »

Oh puh-leez.  This nonsense about "average age" is complete....organic fertilizer. FCC doesn't collect age data and hasn't for years.

To the contrary, I have it on good authority (from a retired FCC staffer) that the FCC keeps a meticulous record of such information. They've been harvesting and maintaining such age data for years.  And they are STILL harvesting it by cross referencing the age information contained in the USA's  Social Security database (we STILL must put down our Social Security numbers on our license applications, remember?) with their own FCC ham radio database.  

So, while it's true that the FCC may no longer PUBLISH that information, it's all still there in their database.

Now, they'll tell you the main reason they ask for our Social Security numbers on a license application is to make sure we are not a tax cheat before they grant us an FCC license (another US federal law by the way).  But ANOTHER reason is so that they can also keep track of our individual ages.

Quote
If somebody REALLY wants to make noise about "average age", let them post REAL statistics for ALL US hams. And compare it to years and decades past. Until that is done, it's all hand-waving and spin.

This sounds like an excellent project for you, Jim!

Indeed, the only "spin" being perpetrated here is your continual publishing of aggregate totals and calling it "growth" without also publishing (or even discussing!) the underlying age and other demographic statistics for our Service...which by even anecdotal evidence...is significantly older (and becoming even more so) than at any time in our history.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF /  VA3OB
kb1sf.blogspot.com
« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 06:59:08 AM by KB1SF » Logged
K9AIM
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« Reply #119 on: July 18, 2013, 07:47:56 PM »

As an accredited examiner, I've administered more than one examination by reading it (out loud) to a blind person. They couldn't read it either. And I'd do the same for an illiterate person. In fact, as examiners, we are encouraged to do this.  It's called administering an "accommodated" exam.

I am surprised they don't have exams available in braille... accommodating a blind person by reading the exam questions to them still tests them for the knowledge required to obtain a license.  and, if Morse code were a still a requirement, a deaf person could be accommodated by using a flashlight or simply a printed out series of dits and dahs.  In 1976 when I took and passed an FCC administered 13wpm code test, there was no sending requirement, so noone unable to send without accommodation would have even been impacted.  so explain to me again what rationale you have concocted to justify the idea that Morse testing is discriminatory.


And, again, if the requirement for a Morse test for an HF license wasn't systemically discriminatory, then why does the FCC still encourage testing accommodations like those I've noted above but yet decided to ditch the Morse testing requirement just as soon as they could after the ITU made it optional? 

Can you think of any other reason why they did so?

The FCC was implementing serious cost cutting measures, so any expense they could dismiss for amateur radio oversight was greeted with open arms.  And, some King had already whined about the code requirement to President Bush and that already helped push thru the weasel waiver option for code testing, so doing away with code entirely was simply another step in a direction already being pushed into place from political pressure.
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