WARNING: This article contains personal opinions.
I've been thinking a bit about the article posted here yesterday about the National Archives and Records Administration's proposal to increase fees. To be sure, I reacted negatively to the news at first. So did many other people who posted comments to the end of the article on the newsletter's web site.
The more I think about it, I wonder if perhaps the personnel at the National Archives have the right idea. In fact, maybe all of us should follow their example.
Here are a few thoughts:
What if the subscription price for this newsletter jumped from $19.95 to $67.43?
What if a membership in the National Genealogical Society jumped from $55.00 to $185.00?
What if a room at the Plaza Hotel next door to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City jumped from $68.00 a night to $230.00 a night?
What if the rental for a roll of microfilm at your local Family History Center jumped from $5.50 to $18.60?
The above questions will be troubling to genealogists. Now, in turn, let's address a few questions to the decision makers at the National Archives and Records Administration, most of who reside in the Washington, D.C., area. Let's ask these people, what would be the impact to your pocketbooks of these actions?
What if the price of a loaf of bread jumped from $2.00 to $6.76?
What if the price of a restaurant dinner jumped from $25.00 to $85?
What if the average price for a home in the Washington, DC area jumped from $450,000 to $ 1,521,000?
What if the price of a gallon of regular gas in the Washington, DC area jumped from $2.50 a gallon to $8.45?
What if? What if? What if? I'll tell you what if: reckless price gouging policies like this by government officials would drive this country into the biggest recession ever seen!
All of the above examples show price increases to 338% of the original prices.
If the government expenses go up a bit, we all expect the fees to go up a similar amount. However, six and a half years ago the National Archives and Records Administration instituted huge price increases, going from $10.00 to $37.00 for a NATF Form 85. (See the October 14, 2000 edition of this newsletter at http://www.eogn.com/archives/news0042.htm for details.) Now we are expected to pony up even more money only seven years later. NARA is now proposing $125 for photocopies that cost $10 only seven years ago. Let's see, if I can do the math, that's a 1,150% price increase over what we paid seven years ago!
I don't think the level of inflation in this country justifies increases of this magnitude.
If your local bank increased its fees this much in a seven-year period, you'd ask the various government agencies to investigate the bank for possible illegal prices. Who do we ask to investigate this price gouging that is being attempted BY a government agency?
From where I sit, it sure seems that NARA is holding our records hostage. Maybe they should change the name of NATF Form 85 to "NATF - Ransom Note." They could even redesign the form to use fonts that look like letters cut from newspapers.