Nobody would doubt that the RSGB initiative to bring a new crowd of entry-level operators into the hobby was a 'good thing'. The young, the old, dabblers and people of varying abilities are able to enter the hobby with nearly all the operating capabilities of an advanced licence holder. Ten Watts on nearly all the bands really is 'enough to work the world'.
But should that be the end of their radio adventure? I am wondering if there should be a nominal time limit that encourages the foundation licence holder to progress to the next level or the licence is rescinded. Does this sound harsh? Well, there are plenty of analogies - think of your teenager's moped licence.
Should you be able to remain aspirationally dormant at this level for life? Perhaps if you are visually impaired, for example, or face other similar restrictions, then this should be an absolute entitlement.
But has the proliferation of long term M3's and latterly M6's downgraded the quality of the hobby to some extent? For example, take two metres, with fewer of the 'older gentlemen of the air' as I like to call them, taking an active part in daily communications, has the lead example of how to behave been lost? I would say to an extent, yes. More senior operators still monitor two metres and will bemoan inwardly the way that newer operators seem to be making up their own rules of how to behave on the air without any mentoring or peer influence. Yes, I know there are examples of senior operators behaving appallingly, but I really would not want any young aspiring radio amateur to listen to some of the inane, irrelevant and wholly inappropriate conversations floating around the bands in my area - and we're in a comparative Narnia here in north Wales.
I admit to feeling my heart sink when I heard about a five year old girl passing the Foundation Exam recently. This is not an example of how clever the girl is, is it? Likewise the blood drained when I heard of the Belgians giving their novices fifty, yes fifty Watts to play with. Unless I've been reading this incorrectly, the RSGB have been reporting all this as 'good' news.
So where do we set the balance? Where is the incentive to learn, progress and perfect?
Suggestion: Foundation for five years, Intermediate for ten, Advanced for life. Too severe, or the only way to keep any credibility and dignity in the hobby?