Although I do enjoy my snug, safe and warm ivory tower, I think you may be erring on the side of idealism.
One argument against lowering the price would be the increased class size, which would reduce the quality of instruction. I don't necessarily think they have "Perl for the Masses" in mind---the idea is to find a sort of sweet spot where you get the most possible participants at the highest possible rate. From what merlyn (who is on Stem Systems' "Board of Advisors") has written in this thread and what I had guessed in the first place, the cost of these classes reflects the market value of such services, at least from people such as Uri "uri" Guttman, Damian "theDamian" Conway and Randal "merlyn" Schwartz.
I don't know whether they all offer something similar, but Mark-Jason "dominus" Dominus (for example) will speak to any users' group for free---although he apparently has nothing against accepting money to speak. It might be interesting to see such announcements here as well. Perhaps we could even offer free publicity to people doing free talks.