Good, sad read.
i started playing eternal magic in 2013, so I have different price memory than some of the old timers. Bazaars were 200 then, or at least they were when buying the cheapest ones in the room; I still have them. two years later, the NYSE lotus was 3k; I traded it for a big pile of duals and legacy staples, since i couldn't justify owning something that expensive I wouldn't be playing with. almost every event i was playing in would have been something i could 10 or 15 proxy for after that given my legacy collection, had i been so inclined. In the meantime, i had all these options for what i could play in legacy: miracles, storm, lands, delver.
of course, legacy now might be approaching the costs of vintage then; multiple revised duals are above $500, at least if tcgplayer mid is accurate. dredge is an outlier, admittedly, but a pair of revised tropical islands is worth more than my entire vintage deck was in 2013. it just sounds weird.
Collectors are worse for the game in the long run, if you really want to compare the 2. Finance people gain no benefit from sitting on inventory they cannot move, so eventually those cards filter back into the market. The price may spike but if no one is paying it, eventually it will drop.
There is no way that the very slowly dwindling availability of these cards because they found forever homes is worse for this game than artificially and massively raising demand of said cards.
The last ungraded UNL Lotus to sell on eBay sold for slightly more than I just paid for a gently used hatchback.
When I think about playing "real" Vintage again, it's usually in the same daydream where I've won the lottery. I'm texting friends who sell cards on my way to the Porsche dealership.
The issue you mentioned about people expecting to be lent a deck is interesting. I encountered that even when running 100% proxy tournaments - several players expected to be able to show up each month and be handed a deck.