It didn't used to be that way. Today, we are integrating search engines into desktops (a bad interface on top of a security and privacy violation) rather than fixing bugs. I was just told that the inconsistent interface items in Elementary (some applications can't change themes and stuck on "dark", and if you change the rest of the windows to dark to match than your notifications are black on black - *doh* - idiots!) The reply (after about 3 or 4 months) is that is an intentional developer feature.
The devs can't change there own theme that they have to be locked in to one that is non-functional!?? I was trying to figure out why I could get an X connection over tcp the other day, in-spite of the fact that I changed my /etc/X11/xinit/xserverrc. I did some research and lightdm intentionally has it hard-coded to ignore xserverrc (which worked fine) and refuse tcp connections for security purposes. My house is behind a double-nat (no incoming connections possible) AND I have a Cisco ASA - I don't care about security. There was a patch made so that you could turn on listening over TCP with a cryptic configuration parameter (what happened to my shell scripts?), but this feature seems to be broken - it doesn't work. Why are they removing functionality from my apps? There are so many cool things you can do with X, but I suppose they'll all be gone once we're forced into Wayland.
And in the old days, the developers were fewer, but they were rock-solid. Now its a huge ecosystem - too many cooks spoil the soup. Its like Gentoo vs Funtoo - a single BDFL keeps the direction focused.
Pulseaudio is okay, but it seems to be kinda resource heavy. I like being able to reroute audio at will, have different apps default to different audio devices (I have many), or broadcast to multiple devices ... and while it works with jack with just an extra click, they should be integrated. Consolekit I kinda understand. Its a really ancient security problem that was never addressed really well and every distro did things differently and it made using pluggable devices problematic sometimes. I don't like emacs, but I hear you on latex! I cheat and use LyX. Awesome program, but I tend to have slow display issues - thats the reason I use the ati binary drivers - they make my LyX performance problems go away. I don't care about games.
Gstreamer makes a lot of sense. Its better to consolidate the APIs so that each program doesn't have a mess of libraries bloating the system. Then you can work on optimization instead of each program trying to deal with compatibility and optimization on its own. The new Gnome is a bit resource heavy, but I after using it, I kinda like it. I hear the old ones weren't as good. And I don't like KDE at all, but at least we get a choice. Elementary OS won't let me install Gnome :/ Thats why I'm moving over to Funtoo (that and I hate systemd and like the direction Funtoo is going).