Don't try to say that the system is the way it is because they can't afford to change it. The system is the way it is because they're making TONS of money this way and have no financial reason to change it.
I think the increase in amateur radio licenses probably has more to do with more people expecting the S to HTF. There seems to be a growing expectation that a global collapse, nuclear holocaust, government collapse, zombie apocalypse are just around the corner. It's probably a combination between that and people wanting to be prepared for more local or regional disasters like blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.
All constants are variables.