The reason the shift lever is not welded on is because it would have been harder to
install the transmission in the Jeep on the assembly line with it welded to the shifter
Its alot easier to install things coming down a fast moving line if they are in sub-assemblies
Also, it would have been an extra step to weld it on. Believe it or not, the cost of an extra
welding process and station in an assembly line is HUGE, versus parts that are able to be
placed on easily.
Its not about why didn't they do it. Its more about why did they do it. To save money!
If you want to weld yours on, there is no real reason why you can't. Just be aware that
after that, if you ever have to take your tranny out, its just going to be a bit
harder to do, if you have to remove the entire shifter assembly, versus just popping off
the shift lever.
I have owned my 1985 CJ-7 for 20 years now, and I have replaced the rubber
snubber three times. Each time it makes the shift lever feel like new again! And
it is an easy fix.
But if you weld yours, let sn know how it comes out, and take some pics!