Mr. DiPierro, while you're entitled to your opinion, like I am, I don't think that you have the authority to speak on behalf of all aikido organizations, dojos, or its practitioners. When you make such broad generalizations regarding aikido (an art practiced differently within and between organizations and dojo), it lessens the credibility of any valid points that your argument might have.
When I make generalizations, I'm usually speaking about the major aikido organizations, or sometimes only about the aikikai, which is the largest of those groups. I try to include qualifications like "most", "many", or "typical" as much as I can to make it clear that I don't mean to include every aikido dojo, but at some point you just have to rely on the reader to know that I'm talking about the common traits you would find in the average dojos in these groups. I think the places that deviate from the norm know it already and it is probably somewhat of a point of pride for them anyway. For example, when I compared aikido to competitive arts earlier in this thread I obviously did not mean to include the JAA in with the aikido groups since they have tournaments, and I don't think that there is any confusion that this is something that makes them different from other kinds of aikido. So I think it was clear enough that I was not talking about them without me having to explicitly state that.
Anyway, if you want to discus that issue further please contact me privately since it does not pertain to this thread. However, let me make it clear that my statement in my previous post about rank being a product of organizations is not a matter of opinion but something that is always true, in any art and any style. If it were just one teacher and one student (which is really the way transmission works anyway), then how could rank have any meaning? That student is both the most senior student and the most junior one. The alpha and the omega. Sure, you call that rank anything you want, and change it at any time, but it is completely arbitrary and has no reference point except that of the teacher, who is always going to be higher in rank.
Once you have another student then you can rank them. You can do it by when they started, how many hours they have practiced, how good they are, how old they are, how tall they are: any standard you choose. But now you have an organization: three people, with one in charge and the other two remaining to be ranked second and third by the first. As your organization grows, you can add more ranks, and at a certain point you might want to standardize them in some way so that people can move up systematically. Or you might not. But outside of the context of such an organization, rank has no meaning.