I think you are missing the point. It's not the $50, it's the fact that the FCC states that this amount of money is what it costs them (in labor costs) to process each initial or renewal application. If all of that money went to FCC employees, they would have to have 36 full time employees, working on nothing but amateur renewals and initial licenses. They don't have that many people working on strictly ham license applications, it may be ten percent of that number, since almost all of the process is totally automated. For example, the VE teams do all the paperwork, forward it to the VEC who gives it a cursory check, then it gets sent to the FCC as a batch. The FCC then issues callsigns (automatically) and updates to the ULS (automatically). There is no FCC employee looking at each and every application, scrutinizing it for accuracy. It runs through a process that checks names against a "naughty list", and if your name is on that list, it gets offlined for actual manual review. From the time the batch is submitted to the FCC to the time it appears on the ULS can be less than an hour. Therefore, no one at the FCC is expending any inordinate amount of time on the great majority of applications. The batch is run through a verification program, names are offlined as needed, and the batch uploads to become part of the ULS. So, the fee, as proposed, is arbitrary and not really a reflection of the costs. If it was reflecting the costs, as it is supposed to be, it would be a fraction of that $50. At some level, it becomes small enough that it is not worth collecting the cost, and it gets waived. That is what happened in the case of the vanity callsigns. The FCC determined that the $21.40 fee it was charging for vanity callsigns was not worth their time to collect: “The Commission spends more resources on processing the regulatory fees and issuing refunds than the amount of the regulatory fee payment,” the FCC said. “As our costs now exceed the regulatory fee, we are eliminating this regulatory fee category.” The current vanity call sign regulatory fee is $21.40, the highest in several years. The FCC reported there were 11,500 “payment units” in FY 2014 and estimated that it would collect nearly $246,100. So, if it is determined that the actual fee should be $20 or less (and it would be, based on how the fee is supposed to be calculated), then why would the FCC want to be burdened with collecting it and all the hassles that come with that duty? They didn't think the $21.40 was worth it.