OG VIP devolved into permanent VIP, which was never the intention. The new VIP groups are a "fresh start" to some extent, yes. The biggest reason is that VIP comes with MycoChat and that service is not free. We attempted to make VIP as close to the OG VIP as possible in terms of price, but the package lasts for 3-months. If you continue to renew then your price is actually cheaper than the original VIP packages.
$20 for your first 3-months, $16 for all subsequent renewals. If you expire and come back again you'll have to start at the 20$ level again. There is no other way to automate this in a fair way, nor to pay for the services you gain otherwise.
Black and Gold VIP are a bit more, but you also get a bit more. All VIP packages will be added to over time.
All-in-all, it's a way to support the community and get a little more back than just a Free Member account provides. It in part pays for the additional features you get, and in part supports the community goals, hosting, expenses, etc.