W5HTW writes "We’ve Come A Long Ways, Baby This morning, January 15, 2001, while working at the computer, I was monitoring an area two meter net. Occasionally I check into this net, as it is just a rag-chew net, a way to learn what is going on in our great state of New Mexico, in the ham community. Shortly before I could find time to move over to the radio, an N1 ham, who has apparently moved into this area, began a thread of monologue about the "Aristocracy" of the Extra Class hams. He made the comment the license was good only for prestige. Then he said he had heard some Extra class nets operating where he, as a General, could not go. He said "Well, if that's how they want to be, F- em." (He used the letter F, not the word.) I thought, I wonder if the Technicians on ten meters feel the same way about this fellow, a General, who is outside their operating privileges. Do they listen to him, where they can't go, and think "F- him?" Though the net control station did not disagree, he appeared to be attempting to avoid the conversation, without offending this N1 ham. When the N1 asked, "I can't get you to commit, can I?" the net control responded with, "Not right now." Clearly he was attempting to avoid an argument, as well as to avoid offending those he knew might be listening, some of whom were Extra class. After a few minutes the N1 returned and said, "I rattled a few cages, didn't I?" Then he left. Is this what ham radio is, I thought? I turned the radio off shortly after that, without checking into the net. Quite likely I won't check into it again. There should have been an effort to at least indicate this was not a policy or attitude supported by the net, but that didn't happen. It was clear this was not a good time for an occasional check-in, an Extra, to bother. I was reminded of an old cigarette ad, regarding women and cigarettes: "We've come a long ways, baby." We have certainly come a long ways in ham radio. The class resentment is so bitter it is remindful of the forties and fifties in the South, where I saw drinking fountains outside a bus station, one marked "Whites" and the other "Coloreds." We are reliving that segregation in our hobby. I could say this N1 is displaying his sour grapes, for he did say he didn't think he could ever make Extra class. Certainly - thankfully - he is an exception in attitude as well. We could use far less like him. But he is also a symbol of where we have come to be in the 21st century. For those of us who entered this hobby and moved up in it, as a ham, not as a Novice, or an Extra, or a General, but just a ham (I was one of those) the changes are so disheartening I am frequently ashamed to call it ham radio. It is hate radio. And it is sad. We hear so much about the Extras who are accused of sneering at the Techs and the Generals, but we rarely hear of it the other way around. Yet I hear comments on the air from time to time that reflect the other side, the class hatred from the lower license classes, whether from envy, resentment, or personal problems. It is time to make a correction. We can never go back, so we must go ahead. Ahead means removing the division, and that means a single class of license. It is with regret I say that, for I prided myself on my own personal achievements, my desire to improve myself, through upgrades. These were for me, not for anyone else. I did not study to pass the Extra so I could look down my nose at anyone. I saw an opportunity to upgrade my own skills, to climb another rung on a ladder of personal achievement. I was a ham, and that was the key word. The only option for ham radio is to remove all license classes. It is quite likely the next international conference will eliminate the Morse requirement for HF access, and it should. As soon as that happens, all current amateur radio licenses should be renamed as "Amateur Radio License," with all amateur privileges. In the meantime, while Morse is still required internationally, all amateur licensees who have passed any level of Morse test should be awarded a new "Standard Amateur License." This is within the power of the FCC, and I will back any petition designed to accomplish this. This license would grant them full privileges on all ham frequencies. The only hams not authorized this new license will be current Technicians who have not passed a Morse test. Upon elimination of the international requirement, these, too, should be immediately and automatically upgraded to "Standard" class. This license would in no way prohibit CW, and, though it might result in some reallocation of CW-only frequencies, as there are far more hams using voice than CW, it would not eliminate those subbands entirely. Don't like the idea? Neither do I. But it is where we are headed anyway, so let's do it now, rather than later, and stop the bitterness, resentment and hatred. The hobby is self-destructing at an alarming rate. The "good old days" are long gone, and we must look ahead to the "good new days." They will not be good, if we don't make some dramatic changes now. We can not make them good if we are not unified. Ham radio is not, and will never be again, what it once was. For those new to the hobby, THESE are the "good old days," and are the ones they will look back on with fond memories. For those waiting to enter the hobby, and for those so resentful of anyone who has anything that they don't have the ambition to achieve, the new "good old days" are just around the corner. For those who have been through the past, our loss is the newcomer's gain. It is change, and change happens in every walk of life. We must adapt. Or we must destroy. 73 Ed Brooks, W5HTW"