Friday, June 22, 2012

Some in our highly vocal "regulatory fundamentalist" crowd say that, "Nobody really knows the "average age" nor the "death rate" or anything like that of people in our Service. And we haven't known it for many years, because the FCC has stopped asking for birth date info."

The truth is that the FCC no longer needs to have us write down our birth dates on our application forms in order for them to obtain this information. 

That's because everyone applying for a new, renewed, or upgraded, FCC-issued Amateur Radio license these days must list their US Social Security Number (SSAN) or their FCC Federal Registration Number (FRN…an FCC-assigned file number that's originally based on one's SSAN) on their application forms.  And the US Government's SSAN database contains one's birth date.

So the FCC already knows how old we all are.... and so do the Volunteer Examiner Coordinators who handle all of our licensing paperwork.

Then there's the argument that, "We Americans are living longer and, more importantly, staying active longer than ever before. The 55-year-old empty-nester who gets into ham radio may have 30+ years of hamming ahead of him/her."

All of which is certainly true. 

And as long as we continue to have "55-year-old empty-nesters" entering the "pipeline", all might be well.  

But, on the other hand, how many youngsters of today have even HEARD of amateur radio, let alone tried to jump through all of the FCC's systemically discriminatory, 1950s-era "hazing rituals" just to obtain a license that grants them full HF privileges? 

Clearly, it's a fool's errand to myopically believe that by the time those same youngsters turn 55 that their expressed disinterest today in participating in all that systemically discriminatory nonsense will somehow miraculously change.

Then there's the same, old, worn-out argument that the…"growth limiting factor isn't the license. It’s other things, which are much harder to fix" that's at the root of the continued "graying" of our population.

Admittedly, the anemic growth of Amateur Radio (or lack of it) is probably due to a combination of factors, the least of which is the notion that instant, non-commercial personal communications via the Internet and cell phones have now become mainstream with today's youth. 

But, by the same token, continually placing "needless regulatory barriers" (to use the FCC's own legal term) in front of people that are not in any way based on safety or non-interference concerns and over material relating to operating privileges that have already been granted to lower class licensees most certainly remains a contributing cause. 

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