I honestly found Apple’s wording to be dishonest, period.
The $99 developer tax is the sole reason I only developed mobile apps for Android even though I use Apple devices first and foremost–not because I can’t afford it, but because I find a lot of it purely insulting (the limitations in sideloads, the hassle of having to rebuild your personal apps periodically, and, of course, the “added value” of the largely inhospitable developer documentation).
My kids write iOS apps in Pythonista, Scriptable and Swift Playgrounds and the eldest actually writes Python with Cocoa bindings, but helping him evolve beyond that and setting up a “family” developer account seems like a first world problem I don’t want to have, especially if I have to pay $99 for any of it.
Honestly, I don’t think the fee is even a good deterrent against junk apps, since the App Store is already full of them and the app review process (which is a legend unto itself) seems wide off the mark there.
But I would love for the developer program to be recognizably worth anything at this point. I just don’t see the incentive for hobbyists to develop for iOS (or the Mac), and we pay enough for the privilege of using the devices, with all the compromises inherent to iOS at this point.
Why keep those barriers? And, more to the point, why lie about them?