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ARRL did it again!



Dear Fellow hams world wide:

What we find ourselves dealing with in the United States will no doubt 
effect others elsewhere.  I share these comments given to the ARRL and my 
ARRL director and vice-director.

But before sending this I read with dismay how our "representative" form 
of government was reportedly again threatning to exercise powerful forces 
which go against the perception of representation.  In a comment from 
Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF, he wrote in part:

"And the FCC folks made it adamantly clear that THEY -- not "we" --
would be making the changes that THEY see as necessary."

Who elected the FCC anyway?  I certainly did not get a chance to vote for 
them.

If this is true, why didn't the ARRL inform the membership of this.  Our 
opinions therefore would be best forwarded to our Governmental 
representative.  If it is not true then I submit my comments here:

To the Board of the American Radio Relay League:

You have done it again.  What you ask?  The License Simplification 
proposal.

In 1959 I was first licensed as a novice.  In 1960, I passed my General 
Class license and obtained "all" amateur privileges.  A few years later I 
found myself suddenly with less privileges all because the ARRL thought 
it would be good for the ranks of amateur radio to embrace Incentive 
Licensing.  I was "not grandfathered" into any class which represented 
what I had "earned", merely told that to get those privileges back I 
would have to take additional exams.

I said then, and I say it again now, this will do nothing but create a 
cast system such as found in old India.  It would do nothing to improve 
amateur radio.  Who cares what your class of license is?  Only the ARRL 
did at renewal time.  What mattered was what you did with your earned 
license.  If anything, it would reduce the numbers who would obtain a 
license.  Well, it took over 30 years, but now we find ourselves facing a 
so called "need" to simplify the licensing system to get more people into 
the ranks.  Surprised?  But in a strange twist of fate, I have found 
myself looking at the real possibility of having my General class license 
being lumped into the same group of hams as novice and technician class 
licensees.   So, I will have come full circle having started at being a 
novice, progressing to the license of General (which provided all 
privileges) and now discovering that I will now be lumped in with the 
lowest classes.

To add insult to injury, I find this totally degrading.  I had worked 
hard to obtain my General Class license (when I was 13 years old).  I 
vowed never, yes never to upgrade because to do so would be admitting 
that it was correct for these policy makers to take privileges away from 
me I once enjoyed.  Never mind the fact that I earned a First Class 
Radiotelephone Commercial license (which was also degraded to General 
Radiotelephone) or that I can easily copy over 40wpm on CW.  The point 
was I had earned all privileges and someone took them away from me.  For 
decades I have been a sporadic member of the ARRL because of this.  I 
found it difficult to support an organization which now as then, tries to 
justify it's existence by tweaking with a system which didn't need 
adjustment.

But now I feel it is time to share publicly my views that I have held 
privately for so long and help put to an end this series of experiments 
in amateur radio licensing policy.  For this purpose, I write this letter.

The ARRL is obviously worried that the legacy of amateur radio is dying.  
No kidding!  But it isn't going to die because standards were created.  
It is because they have been lowered.  Lowered from both a technical and 
policy making aspect.  If all you want to do is invite all of the citizen 
banders to the ranks of amateur radio to inflate the numbers in amateur 
radio, you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams.  But at a high cost.  
You are going to loose the people who make a difference.  You are going 
to loose the people who do what needs to be done.  The people who take 
the time to understand what radio and technology is all about.  Why?  
Because of the stark differences between those who are mainly interested 
in talking through a repeater and those who have taken the time to 
experience what amateur radio has to offer.  And because of the stark 
differences in what it took to get a license.  Who are these people?  One 
guess!  And how do you legislate getting those who only are interested in 
talking through a repeater?  One guess!

Ever since the no-code license has been available, I have observed a 
general decline in amateur radio.  These are the people who have not 
invested the time and effort into getting into amateur radio and learn 
what communication modes like CW, HF and other digital modes can offer.  
But you argue that CW is dying.  I strongly suggest that if it is true 
then it is only because it has been legislated out.  If you make it so 
easy to obtain an amateur radio license that it takes nothing but 
memorizing test questions and not truly understanding the theory and 
issues, you have set yourself up for a big fall.  The issue that CW is a 
useless technology is really not the issue.  CW is a wonderful mode of 
communication.  It does not need to be equated with commercial "success". 
 For over a half century this mode gave communication insight to those 
who took the time to understand it.  And now we find current pressures 
degrading it; suggesting it has no place in our technological and 
commercially evaluated world.  Gee, who are making these claims?  Why 
can't the ARRL get the message?  CW was a filter.  It took time and 
effort to learn it.  It took time and effort to master it.  It upgraded 
the rank and file of the entire population of hams.  Why is that so hard 
to understand?  But does the ARRL have it's own agenda?  Is it really 
looking out for the amateur radio fraternity or just the bottom line of 
it's own membership numbers?  I suspect that the ARRL is now reaping the 
rewards of lower memberships due to Incentive Licensing and no-code 
license policies.  The timing of this legislative proposal I submit is no 
accident.   

In summary, my suggestion would be to make it difficult to obtain an 
amateur radio license.  Give people the opportunity to be proud of their 
accomplishments in learning the theory behind the questions asked in 
exams.  Keep CW!  For if you do not, you will certainly kill not a 
headache to be passed at exam time but an art form.  A way of 
communicating that only those who take the time to understand it will 
appreciate.  Allowing "the others" who do not understand CW; to migrate 
the majority away from it by legislating the "future majority" would be a 
crime.  

The board of directors of the ARRL have created the single biggest reason 
why amateur radio will die if the Licensing Simplification Proposal 
succeeds:  The lowering of standards.  It may take ten years for it to 
happen but in my opinion the final nail will have been placed if we do 
nothing.  If you want amateur radio to succeed you will need to keep 
standards high.  You will need dedicated people who will take it to 
future generations.  Making it easy to obtain an amateur radio license 
will cheapen and degrade it.  If you think about these matters, I hope 
you will agree that the proposal the ARRL has come up with is at least 
flawed but at most fatal to amateur radio.  Lobby your ARRL director and 
take the time to share your views.  No less than amateur radio itself is 
at stake.

Sincerely,

Rees Roberts - K9UUT
Racine, Wisconsin

current member: AMSAT, ARRL



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