Friday, July 27, 2012

Well, our "regulatory fundamentalists" are arguing once again that Amateur Radio is alive and well. 

As proof, they cite such nonsensical "evidence" that during medieval times jousting was a popular sport. However, because of changes in real-world warfare techniques, the sport fell out of favor with the general public. Yet, even today there are jousting clubs and associations for the few who remain interested in the sport. They say that Amateur Radio is no different.

The problem with this logic is that jousting clubs (and sailing clubs and a whole host of other groups that promote re-enacting such quaint holdovers from our past) aren't also sitting on several tens (if not hundreds) of billions of dollars worth of finite (and therefore, ever more scare) RF frequency spectrum…spectrum that many well-heeled commercial interests would love dearly to get their grubby mitts on at any opportunity.

And while nostalgia is a wonderful pursuit, I invite anyone reading these words to cite any convincing evidence that obsessively maintaining all the 1950's-era obfuscation and gobbledygook in the regulatory and "incentive licensing" system for our Service in the USA has helped to justify our continued fee-free access to all that valuable radio spectrum we currently occupy.

As I've noted, the sad truth is that we haven't pulled our technological weight in Amateur Radio in years.  That's because, as a Service, we have elected to remain firmly stuck…technically, sociologically and administratively…in the far distant past. 

I also find it ironic that our regulatory fundamentalists continue to demand the same old, tired and totally worn-out approaches to regulating and licensing for our Service that might (?) have worked in the 1950s, but are now horrifically out of date.  But, then, in the next breath, they have the nerve to wonder why we aren't attracting young newcomers to our ranks. 

Continuing to myopically apply yesterday's rules and regulations along with half-century old (not to mention long since outdated!) approaches to licensing in our Service at a time when everything we touch is increasingly digital "plug and play" makes absolutely no sense to me at all. 

And obsessively expecting today's increasingly instant-communication-savvy youth to "salute smartly" and then blindly comply with such abject foolishness from a bygone era as proficiency in Morse code and a series of written "achievement tests" over increasingly irrelevant technical material that goes well beyond that required internationally is simply ludicrous. 

It is, by definition, ill behavior.

Unfortunately, and as I've noted on other occasions, it will probably take at least another generation or two for the last vestiges of the “CBer paranoia” and "I had to do it and so should they" elitism that is clearly evident in the posts of many of our "regulatory fundamentalists" (and still all too prevalent in our Service as a whole) to completely disappear.  In fact, as I've said on numerous occasions, I firmly believe that the aging and eventual death the older generation of Hams will be an essential element in the progress of our hobby

That is…if we can manage to hang on as a separate Service for that long. 

That's because death very effectively takes care of all the crusty curmudgeons from a previous generation who are absolutely petrified to let go of old, fallacious ideas (like Morse code testing along with all the other bogus “lid filters” that are largely still intact in our license and regulatory structure) that were never really based in any operational need under the international rules, let alone reality. 

I frequently like to quote Max Planck, one of the greatest physicists of the Twentieth century, who once commented that, “Innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents.  What usually happens is that its opponents gradually die out, and the growing generation is familiarized with the new, innovative ideas right from the beginning.” 

Thankfully, there's a whole new generation of leaders in the ARRL and FCC who are now at hard at work and trying their very best to undo the systemically discriminatory mess their predecessors created of our licensing system back in the 1950s and 60s.  

However, judging from all the "sky is falling" blather that's still being posted in various ham radio online forums about the death of Morse testing and the "dumbing down" of the examination system (a system that I say was needlessly "dumbed up" in the late 1950s and 60s), it would appear that the FCC's progress to date is very much tweaking the noses of the remaining elitist, 1950s and 60's era techno-nerd contingent in our ranks. 

Sadly, there are still FAR too many people in Amateur Radio in the United States of America who would love dearly to keep all that regulation enabled, "I'm better than you" systemic discrimination firmly in place. And, judging from some of their boorish remarks aimed squarely at me in may of  these same online forums, it appears these people are totally oblivious to the fact (or, more likely, could selfishly care less) that their continued collective elitist intransigence and steadfast refusal to let go of the past is what's now helping to make our Service increasingly unattractive to today's youth…the lifeblood of our Service going forward.

As I've said, the only question now remaining is whether or not such ongoing de-regulation and systemic change will happen quickly enough in our Service to also reverse the continued hemorrhaging of our ranks (and the resulting silence on our bands) before the commercial interests completely hijack our frequencies for lack of use.

Only time will tell. 

But, unfortunately, most likely this "old geezer" (I'm 61) will be LONG dead before anyone reading these words learn whether these modern day FCC efforts to turn this mess around will have been successful…or not.

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