the quality of the index improved in the last 3 years, but that involved a lot of victims from the small site owner side. That is the really sad part of that story, I would agree.
There is a disconnect here; Google is not here to make anyone's business flourish (mom and pop or otherwise). It is, however, here to serve it's clients with the most relevant search results possible. I am not saying they are doing the best job of presenting relevant search results, but at the same time I can't complain if my site isn't showing up in the results, where I think it should. Google doesn't owe me anything.