I've been wondering... given that ranks come more slowly as you go up in the organization, has anyone calculated what the cost for rank per year is as you go up through the ranks? So if the cost for a rank which you earn after 5 years is 5X the cost of a rank you earn after a year, isn't it pretty much a wash?
So rank is an annual membership fee that we make lump advance payments on? What do we get for having the rank? What do we get for having the rank backed by the organization? What do we get from the organization other than the backing of the rank?
I can see that we do get some value out of the rank, we can wave a nifty number around in our advertising, we can use it to get a general idea of our positioning in a group of people, etc.
The organizational backing of the rank gives us some measure of quality control, and assurance for ourselves and our students.
The other stuff? I really like the nice certificate in a different language and aesthetic style than my other certificates. I like the little book that has a lot of names of people I admire. I like knowing that I can go to the hombu, show my card, and get admitted to a class with a nod if not a smile.