I just went back and read this whole thread from a critical standpoint. Two things jump out to me.
The first being the 718. Seems like some people can only bad mouth others equipment for whatever reason. I personally bought a new 718 and it is a great all-around fun rig that is not too complicated. I look at ham radios like I look at cars. The more crap you add, the more crap that will break. When was the last time your hand-crank car window burned out the electric motor?
The second thing that hit me was the total contempt for CB radio. Yeah I chuckle at all the names people use to illustrate their lack of knowledge about CB. Yeah they have their losers, but you can scan any ham band and find a bunch of them there as well.
Not to drag this into a Ham VS CB debate. So buy a radio that suits you. You don't have to spend a ton of money to get a good servicable radio.
Agree on that 718! Lots of bang for the buck. And I wonder what percentage of today's hams actually started out on CB?