The FCC proposal to reinstate Amateur Radio service fees has certainly fired up the crowd. No one likes to pay for anything, especially when it’s been free for a long time. It’s not going out on a limb to suggest this one will receive a record number of comments from the peanut gallery.
I don’t pretend to know what impact these new fees might have on the growth of the amateur service. Early commenters suggest doom and gloom and of course, “what about the children” who will no longer be able to afford entry into our magical world of radio?
I don’t plan to comment on this proposal because I can’t seem to muster the outrage felt by many. Of course I’d prefer to never have to pay another fee, but you get used to these things living in America. What sort of government licensing comes with no fee? Drivers license? Nope. Fishing license? Nope. Hunting license? Nope. Concealed Carry Permit for a handgun? Not even the 2nd Amendment precludes the government from collecting fees for that.
Deadlines for comments and reply comments will be determined once the NPRM appears in the Federal Register. File comments by using the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), posting to MD Docket No. 20-270. This docket is already open for accepting comments even though deadlines have not yet been set.
You can argue all day long whether these fees are necessary or reasonable but the bottom line is that if the government is going to regulate something, there will be some involved costs. And since not all taxpayers enjoy amateur radio, the question can be reasonably asked, “why should all taxpayers have to cover those costs for the few who do enjoy amateur radio?”
Why do ham radio enthusiasts feel entitled to a free ride when it comes to their hobby? I honestly don’t know. It would be easy to simply declare hams “cheap” except their spending on equipment, antennas, conventions, hamfests and travel to exotic locations to play in a contest belies that notion.
While the proposed fifty-dollar fee must be paid up front, it’s a ten-year license with the net result being a five dollar per year fee, hardly outrageous. The way I see it, so long as the amateur radio service offsets its costs via fees, we might not have to listen to Rand Paul someday point out how our service amounts to wasted tax dollars and should therefore be eliminated.
There’s also a certain irony here. Many US hams identify politically as conservative and the Bill that could result in fees for amateur radio was Republican sponsored and signed into law by Trump in 2018. Decades of voting to send politicians to Washington to slash the budget and ferret out “waste” may have simply come home to roost.
It’s not unlike pigs voting constantly for bacon and then one day being suddenly surprised by the pain of the knife.