Re: Paying for Document
A small one. The IRS used to make tax forms available by faxback system, so you could call in, get an index, then call back and get any form you needed immediately.
They improved that by offering PDF versions of the forms. And then, the improved that again, substantially, by updating to "fillable PDF" forms that can be filled out on the computer, not just printed as blanks.
All at no charge.
So yes, you might call that small progress but it sets the unthinkable precedent that someone at a government agency can actually make the paperwork simpler, and do so for free.
I'm also reminded of what happens every time there is a fare increase on public transit systems: Ridership goes down, revenue doesn't increase as projected. If the USCG turns documentation into another annual PITA bill, it will also become cheaper for folks to simply drop it, and then just pay the $100 up front again when and if they need it to go abroad.