These threads discussing gemming seem to take on a similar vein if they go on long enough (and I really enjoy the healthy debate). The problem here as I see it, is that people are approaching the issue from two different backgrounds, directions, angles, or whatever word you want to use.
There are those who are approaching it from a background of being accustomed to the best shoes in the world... bespoke, hand-welted, highest quality materials, built by hands with decades of experience. Lets call those people the Bentley drivers for the sake of sticking with the car analogy.
Then there are those who are approaching it from a background of being accustomed to cemented, corrected grain, foam-lined, paper insoled, disposable shoes available at any local department store for $100.00. Wear them every workday for a year, and throw them away. We will call them the Kia drivers (no offense to anyone driving a Kia).
Lets call anyone wearing a Goodyear-welted shoe a person driving a readily available luxury car (BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Acura, Audi, the list goes on...) There are differences in quality, perks, and price between all of these readily available luxury cars, but the fact remains that they are a dime a dozen. Any drive to the supermarket and you will pass one or all of these. Same for Goodyear-welted shoes... Allen Edmonds, Alden, Crockett & Jones, Cheaney, Loake, Edward Green, Gaziano and Girling (in no particular order). There are differences in quality and price amongst all of these brands, but the fact remains that they are basically the same in construction from a durability standpoint. The price varies (with good reason) because you are getting progressively better finishing and attention to detail as you climb the ladder.
Now, a person that is accustomed to driving a Bentley is going to consider a readily available luxury car to be a serious step down, while a person accustomed to driving a Kia is going to consider it a serious step up. Likewise, a person who is proud that they have entered the market of readily available luxury cars will take great offense from a Bentley driver who belittles their progress by climbing the ladder.
The quote in DW's signature line is particularly applicable here... quality is a spectrum, it isn't black and white. DW is 100% correct and validated in his frustration with the deceptive marketing tactics that has convinced most of the world that Goodyear-welted shoes are the best shoes available. If I was making a product that is hand over fist better, I would be quite angry by that as well. I would also have very little patience for anyone who refused to listen to my wisdom and attempts to teach others that there is a better way or a better product. DW is also fully correct in his assessment of the slippery slope that factory mentality allows into manufacturing by steadily going down in quality. Any history book or detailed look into just about any company or product can validate that point. After all, who isn't familiar with the saying "they don't make them like they used to." I also think that having someone around like DW to write books, post in these forums, make shoes of the quality that he does, etc., is crucial to maintaining a documented history of how things were, and how they still can be.
My point at the end here though, is simply that everyone needs to remember the angle from which they are approaching this discussion. I came from the Kia driving group and entered the readily available luxury car group. I got sick of throwing away shoes every year that were smelly, scuffed, lining peeling from the underlying foam, with worn through insoles. I got online and started learning. I applied my knowledge and I changed my budget to allow myself to save up enough to build a respectable rotation of middle tier Goodyear-welted shoes, and I care for them reasonably rather than obsessively. I fully expect each pair to last over a decade and hopefully up to two decades. I have absolutely no belief that they are the same as a hand-welted bespoke shoe. In other words, I'm happy driving my BMW, and I'm proud that I'm no longer driving a Kia. It is a step up no matter how you slice the pie, and a Bentley driver has no reason to say a BMW driver is driving a piece of crap. Each fills a niche. Knowing that there are Bentleys out there gives a standard to compare lesser quality cars against, and it is fun knowing that there is an ultimate level of quality that isn't really surpassable. However, that doesn't stop the Mercedes drivers from bickering with the BMW drivers about whose car is better, while the Bentley drivers look on and shake their head at the petty arguing.
By the way... all of these cars are strictly random examples. I'm not a car enthusiast, so please save me the retorts on why the brands I chose aren't good examples. I think my point is clear enough. Also, I'm not directing this post at anyone in particular, but rather at the general tone that these shoe quality discussions take on.