Here's another example - from my e-commerce site now...
One way of getting links is by writing manufacturers of products that we sell. Several had "old links" up to our competitors and when I asked for a link they refused...no one wants to go through the bother of adding links - they would usually say if we added your link then we would have to add everyone - I would then suggest nicely that they should take down the old links - not fair everything being equal (clean site, good reputation, etc.) - they have every legal right but it's not fair - the site owner does not care...again, I can't blame them.
Then there's the business owner who lost their webmaster and does not know how to run their own site...they cannot even access the site - you would be surprised how many authority sites out there who have a clueless owner.
I know the answers are not easy - but Google has plenty of smart people working for them. I know there are algorithm tweaks here and there and different forks - filters - social that have been added but the heart of Google is still linking I would argue - even today.