Very nice text.
While on one hand I am one of those seeking an easier path as you say, I am not doing it just because it is easier, but because I am tired of getting broken after broken card, especially as you say you can see a lot of people running around in +15. For any serious budokai party you're being judged by your gear (and why wouldn't you, since 30-40% stats mean a lot) and it's a ticket to being even considered to join the party.
I get what you're saying too - if you make everything easily obtainable, people will get bored very soon since they have all. But having a good gear won't let you automatically win a coveted first place in budokai.
On the other hand, content could be made harder so you can clear it only if you're geared well by increasing the difficulty (e.g. increasing boss HP, damage output, making mechanics complicated). I've seen some videos how people clear some of the dungeons too - they use glitches to skip mechanics; gear doesn't play a role here obviously... Fixing such issues could help making the game harder and I am sure at one point in future that will get addressed too.
Also, everything could be made harder if getting to Zeni would be harder. My suggestions might trigger inflation which nobody wants, so getting Zeni should also be made harder to get.
As for the old system and AH offer. True, you can buy now +15 gear on AH now for a very nice pile of Zeni. And I don't see it being a particular problem.
What I see as potential problem is the inflation that practically every game gets to battle with sooner or later.
But then again, I don't know where you played before, but I played on TW2. There was so much you could buy for 1.000.000.000 Zeni which is credit cap in this game. Even with that money pit system game had serious issues with inflation. And what's more, even there there was a tremendous amount of players with +15, but community was considerably larger so you couldn't notice it just as easy as here. And in last years a lot of those with +15 stopped playing. You couldn't see such items on AH simply because the value was well over 1.000.000.000. The best you could find was +11, maaaaybe +12. Not because they were rare, but because the value was exceeding the credit cap. You either had to have a very well known and good middleman which could finalize the transaction in at least 2 trades since 2.000.000.000 had to be traded in two parts OR, which was actually more preferred way, you could buy it for real cash. Needless to say, it was against the rules. There was a (black?) market on some TW website on which people were listing their highly upgraded items along with their account. That was the only way of buying them, not because they were harder to get...
Edit: It's been quite a while when I last did CC on TW, obviously, but there was a time when you just couldn't pass certain CC levels without having a good group which actually knew what they were doing and had to be very well geared. Just knowing the tactics or just having the good gear was not enough...