Sunday, November 02, 2008

What Will Happen to Amateur Radio If Obama Is Elected

I must admit I gain much inspiration from looking at referrals; the search keys people use often inspire.  I'm doing this one today because the election is just over a day away now and there might actually be someone undecided out there looking for guidance.  Unfortunately, I can't offer much.

I haven't heard word one from either Obama or McCain regarding amateur radio.  The FCC Commissioners are, of course, appointed by the President, and so in theory whether we have Obama or McCain in the Oval Office will presumably at some point have some effect on who the FCC commissioners are, but that said it is very rare indeed that a Commissioner actually gets involved in a matter related to ham radio.  Nor has either candidate, as far as I can find, ever taken a strong position for or against any legislative issue with any well-defined relation to ham radio.

However, in a broader sense, I think Obama is likely to be ever so slightly better for ham radio than McCain.  There are two reasons for this.  First, McCain has spent many years doing the bidding of the large telecoms.  If it came down to a large telecom wanting a patch of spectrum that hams currently have, I have slightly less faith that a McCain-appointed commissioner would give a moment to listen to the concerns and interests of hams, or take the time to understand ham radio's long history of public service, before ruling in favor of one of McCain's friends in Big Telecom.  However, this just isn't a very likely scenario.

Second, Obama's positions on issues related to science and education seem to me to be more favorable to restoring interest in engineering and technology with America's youth than do McCain's (who favors widespread cuts to virtually all forms of research funding).  As such, I think Obama's platform might just have a side effect of increasing interest in ham radio as an interesting hobby to pursue.  This factor is pretty tenuous as well, though.

There's a third issue, one which is near and dear to many of hams: the dreaded CC&R.  This is a topic that goes beyond hams, of course; fighting with the HOA seems to be a pastime of a fair portion of homeowners these days, over issues as varied as clotheslines, flagpoles, playsets, and parking.  I haven't heard either candidate say anything to this issue either, and I can't say that I have a feel on where either candidate would stand with respect to legislation that might tend to weaken the power of homeowner's associations in general, or specifically the federal legislation that would be needed to expand the scope of PRB-1 to invalidate conflicting CC&Rs (the way existing law already does for DishTV).  I have to call the candidates a wash on this issue.

So if you're still waffling on who you're going to vote on, and you're a ham, I'm afraid that this issue doesn't give you a whole lot of guidance, and quite frankly if you're swayed by any of the above I suspect you weren't really that undecided to begin with.  You still have 36 hours to make up your mind, in any case.  Don't forget to vote (if you haven't already).