Helping the low income cruiser is certainly commendable!
Having sailed in the Baltic as well as the North Atlantic (Norway, Scotland, Iceland) as well as a nice time Down to the med, all in "wobbly plastic boats" because that was what I could afford, I fail to see your point - it would have been more expensive to build and equip a steel boat (and still is) and no boat whether steel, Alu, or GRP will save your a$$ when you run aground on the cliffs of Norway that's a given (as witnessed by nyself and others).
Having a boat that go well to windward and can maintain a good turn of speed at the same time can be a lifesaver as well, and certainly increases the pleasure of cruising - I remember situations where I was able to sail into a fiord where others couldn't.
Being a bit less young now, and a little better of, I'd still be out cruising faster and cheaper by buying a GRP boat and refitting it with "fancy Commercial equipment" than origami folding it in steel. So if you want to go cruising cheap, fast, and safe now go for an older Perry design, or one of the countless other great designs out there.
The situation might be different in North America, but I doubt it.
You are right when you say that there is no way you could build any kind of
boat for what they are charging for older fibreglass boats. I hear the Greeks are giving them away to avoid the taxes. However, I have several friends who bought fibreglass boats, who are upgrading to my boats, to boats which are built right from the outset, when they find that nothing on the market is what they want. They prefer boats which let them hit the odd rock, log or shipping container in the night, without a care in the world. One T-boned a rock in the Straits of Magellan . Shrug and carry on, no problem. You can read the story by doing a search under Silas Crosby.
They find fibreglass boats extremely wet, dripping with condensation in winter, while living aboard. Most have little or no insulation. Those which have, dont have enough. They find deck fittings which are not welded on , leak eventually and the leaks can be hard to track down .Not a problem in tropical locations, but a big discomfort in BC. Steel decks with all welded down fittings simply dont leak.
A friend just finished his steel work. In a fibreglass boat, that would mean time to hunt down all the detail fittings. When the metal work is done, you have done all your cleats, bow roller, haches, mooring bits, tankage, lifelines, handrails, boom gallows, maststep, pulpit, pushpit, engine mounts , chocks ,etc etc ,for a fraction the cost of buying all that gear from a ship swindlers, and you have far better gear, with zero chance of it leaking. Thus you save a huge amount of money and time building in steel over other materials, unless you use old, outdated, framed methods. And you dont have to worry about losing it all, including your life and that of anyone else aboard, by hitting a log in the night. When I switched to steel, the anxiety levels dropped exponentially and cruising became a lot more relaxed and worry free, pariculary in log strewn BC waters.. Many of my clients have thoroughly searched the used boat market, and concluded that the only way to get exactly what you want is to build it yourself..