K7DOC, et al,
I agree with the above analysis especially with regard to how few of is actually engage in emergency prep exercises, let alone activate for a practiced event.
I obviously prefer "free", though life doesn't work that way. I pay $40 per year for my boat to use state ramps and be served by public DNR police, and $10/yr for the trailer that hauls it to ride on public roads. $8.50 goes to a fishing license and an extra $4 to go into trout stream, yet, I dont own a fly rod.
People who cry "Socialism!!" when other people get stuff they need to live on for free, are in no position to complain about a ten year fee for a hobby administered nationwide and which uses public radio space that carries marketable value.
I'll buy the public service argument and support a waiver of fees for proof of involvement with local ARES, Skywarn, or Sherriff SAR teams. Outside of documented public service activities, it's just another hobby like fishing or hunting.
Any kid who can't get into a VEC session for want of $35 her parents can't provide, should write me a note and we'll discuss it.