Talk about "elitist, arrogant, and shallow", "ludicrous and expensive". I too have owned quite a few boat that I bought for well under $1000 dollars, but generally after long periods of hard work and a lot of ''new'' and used gear, I have ended up with as much money in these bargains as I could have bought a fully operational and several times more expensive boat for and I have gnerally made out better financially when I have bought boats that were well maintained by prior owners (but perhaps in need of minor cosmetics) than when I have bought boats that were somewhat abandoned. I do agree with your ''covered in leaves sitting in someone''s yard'' point.
The original poster is new to sailing. He wants to learn to sail. There will be plenty of time for him to learn to restore old junkers later.
I also disagree with your wholesale condemnation of up to 25 foot keel boats. Most of the larger adult oriented sailing schools that I know of use 22 to 26 foot keel boats quite effectively to teach sailing. Obviously in this person''s case, there are not adequate facilities where they will be sailing for that solution to work, but is an excellent way to learn to sail in many venues around the country.
Boats like J-24''s can be bought as cheaply as $3500 in non-racing condition and are easy enough to sail, and have so much literature on how to sail one available, and have such a surplus of good used J-24 gear available that I think J-24''s can make an excellent, low cost starter boat for someone who thinks that they might be interested in learning performance sailing. Literally thousands of people have learned to sail on J-24''s or have owned J-24''s as first boats.
Lastly, learning to sail on performance oriented boats, does not automatically make "elitist, arrogant, and shallow sailors" any more than learning to sail on junkers automatically makes people who can''t be tolerant of people prefer to sail or recommend that others sail on nice boats.