It seems obvious to me that high-end equipment isn't appropriate to all situations, for myriad practical reasons, some of which have been noted above. And I don't think anyone is suggesting otherwise.
The really good news, though, is that current budget and mid-range equipment achieves a level of performance that is so much closer to that high-end now, compared to what could be achieved just a few decades ago. For a lot of amateurs working in personal project studios, that's a truly wonderful thing because they can easily afford equipment that more than meets their requirements.
But in the top professional circles, the expectations are still higher -- and that's true in all industries, not just pro-audio!
It's also self-evident -- and routinely repeated on these forums -- that 'The Things That Matter Most' are the music, the arrangement, the performance, the location, the mic placement, the mic choice, the mixing balance, the signal processing, and maybe then the mic preamps and the converters, the sample rate and the other technical trivia...
But in professional circles, these are all pretty much a given... They are working with brilliant music performed by extremely skilled musicians in great-sounding spaces, with lovely mics expertly places... Etc...
For these top-end studios and engineers/producers, equipment budgets are very unlikely to be a limiting factor, and neither are deadlines. Nor are studio or venue acoustics likely to be a problem. These facilities are not that rare, either! We see studios like this all over the world in the StudioFile articles in the magazine every month
Professionals strive to achieve the best possible results, not something that's only just 'good enough' to not sound completely crap on a low bit-rate MP3 player for the casual music-consuming masses! Moreover, professionals want and use tools that allow them to work to the highest possible standards, and deliver the best possible results efficiently, consistently, and predictably. These people appreciate and value the incremental benefits of high-end gear.
And yes, of course the consumer appreciates the decisions the professionals make... Even if they arent consciously aware of why those decisions matter in their enjoyment.
It's as simple as that.
Working in these kinds of facilities, with this kind of equipment really is a revelation which probably has to be experienced in person to truly appreciate the difference.
Perhaps a more relatable comparison would be the experience of preparing food using cheap mass-market kitchen knives, or professional high-end chef's knives... It's the same kind of difference -- they both dote same basic thing, but a professional chef can achieve so much more, better, quicker, with his pro knives than he could with the cheap ones, and way more than an amateur could do with the cheap knives!