And this is a problem ... why?
Imagine if we actually required the sort of test that some old farts seem to advocate for. Very few people would pass, new licenses would dry up, and eventually the cellcos and the other usual greedy suspects would steamroll whatever was left of the ARRL and have the spectrum reallocated. End of story.
Those "appliance operators" you speak so disparagingly of are, just by virtue of using the spectrum allocated to the Amateur service and perhaps being active in a local club or sending a few bucks to the ARRL, what keeps the hobby possible.
Frankly, I'm all for lowering the bar further, down to a nominal fee and a test that only covers the legal aspects and RF safety. Not because I don't think the electronics are important, but it's a hell of a lot easier to interest people in the electronics once they've already started to play around a bit and see the applied side of things, and we need the warm bodies if we want to hang onto the spectrum.
Also, there are valid aspects of Amateur Radio that really don't rely on or require much electronics knowledge. For some people, Amateur Radio is more of a means to some other end, or an accompaniment to some other interest/hobby. There are a significant number of people in my local club who are Red Cross volunteers or paid employees, and maintain Ham licenses in order to do EmComm stuff. That's a totally valid use of Amateur Radio, but it doesn't require much theoretical knowledge of radio, just the actual practical radio-operation skills to get the messages across.
The ARRL is slowly taking more of a "big tent" philosophy, and it's time for the rest of the community to be a bit more welcoming if we want to have any hope of surviving for a few more decades.