What happened to good, hard, honest training? Training with consequences and pushing each other to our limits so that we grow in some meaningful way as as a result? That hardly exists anymore and if that were what aikido still was globally, there'd be about 60% fewer people doing it, but it'd be a hell of a lot better for it. The standards of most aikido are watered down both in the martial sense and also in the sense that nobody is expected to give anymore than they want to give. They never have their limits tested in a way that they have to dig down and find something inside themselves to keep going. They're never put in a situation where they grow in some meaningful way as a result of the training. Good, hard, honest training with consequences. These days we have shodan tests that last 15-20 minutes, sometimes with a chunk of that demonstrating basic ukemi, nobody breaks a sweat, nobody gets pushed or has their limits tested. That's all probably by design. If you expect people to really strive to reach a high standard and you plan on paying your bills from this stuff, well.. good luck. When you set the standard high and require people to really put part of themselves into the training and you push them to get there, really make them work, they come out with an appreciation and love for the training and for what they went through to reach that standard. They know they earned something worth having. When the standards represent a level that's easy enough that most people can do it, well... you get what we see these days.
I think the question Chris Hein brings up, relative to this point, may be the question of: did we ever actually have any standards to begin with? Maybe there has never been a decline in standards, and that, if anything, they have been on a slow increase since conception of the art... just that, maybe they, as standards, are stuck at a certain plateau because no one knows what is worth standardizing on? It's fine to say people maybe should work harder, but if they're working harder at what is effectively a mediocre goal, the result is still mediocrity.