Respectfully Mark, the attitude and approach you are suggesting is reminiscent of what the ARRL sponsored in the mid 1960’s called “Inventive Licensing” – which in short backfired and was a debacle.
The ARRL plan then was to have the FCC reallocate access to amateur sub bands and modes and increase the license level requirements to utilize them. I interpret your post to suggest at least maintaining the status quo or even going back to a plan more like like that.
This had a devastating effect on the ARS, and ARRL dissent skyrocketed and membership plummeted. Plus is caused a micro-economic recession and failures of many amateur radio manufacturers and vendors.
I lived through those times and can attest it was a trigger for me to go essentially QRT for a decade and half, and many others I know too. Rather then spur self-improvement, it instead was simply a DIS-incentive to be active.
The legendary Wayne Greene W2NSD (SK) describes the plan and aftermath of Incentive Licensing, entertainingly. in a part of an appearance on Art Bell’s show, which can be heard on this video, starting at the 24:36 point.
It took a long time for the USA ARS to recover from that, if it ever really did. Licensing has increased, more Hams then ever. But how many are ACTIVE?
IMO, that quality, actual radio operating activity, is the most significant parameter indicating health of the service. It transcends either the class of license or the type or depth of exam used to qualify for it.
As occurred back in the 1960’s, amateur radio activity, and league membership, is now stagnant, despite distracting data like total licenses increasing. But its because of different dynamics, technological and social. These are obvious.
In the link you provided the ARRL said their new proposal addresses, “… the need for compelling incentives not only to become a radio amateur in the first place, but then to upgrade and further develop skills. Demographic and technological changes call for a “periodic rebalancing” between those two objectives…”
IMO, the ARRL now has recalled and learned from the mistaken theory and practice of 1960’s Incentive Licensing. To remedy and move on from that they have embarked on a series of licensing and band allocation changes meant to counter the modern trends that deflect or diminish from the benefits of becoming and being a Ham. Elimination of a Morse code requirement was a big one.
Regarding Morse code, there was once lots of gloom and doom regarding dismissing it as a licence requirement – and look what has happened. Morse code OTA activity is alive and well, perhaps even booming! “No Coders” are learning to use it AFTER they get licensed and experience that CW is a really effective and cool mode.
This mentality IMO is the basis for more such proposals. Open up more HF allocation for Techs. Unlike your flippant term “dumbing down” I would call what the ARRL is now proposing Incentive Inspiring Licensing.
Lets the Techs TRY IT OUT, the expanded HF radiotelephone and digital modes, get hooked on the FUN, and that will generate the motivation to GET ON THE AIR, obtain your objective of deeper skills and education not just by studying for harder exams but by DOING, and eventually many will upgrade to the higher class license when they are ready.
73, John, WØPV
BTW – I am not a League “fan-boy”, upset by all the recent BoD crap, but believe the recent band-plan suggestions are spot on, including fixing the 80/75 meter mess.
Read the full article at https://forums.qrz.com/index.php?threads/arrl-qst-article-expanded-tech-proposal-may-2018.607808/. STRAY SIGNALS does not claim ownership of the article.