In the US there is so much disposable income and as Robert said "choice" that it is easy to fall into the trap of always upgrading equipment. For many people who use cameras it is all about status, they are going to buy the next greatest thing even though my 6yr old daughter can probably produce better images with an old 35mm Pentax K.

There is also the idea that technology can somehow make up for a lack of creativity or initiative to learn how to make photographs. One reason why someone will pay thousands of $ for a camera that is fully computerized and automated but will still take mediocre pictures.

Another issue is laziness. Quite a few photographers who invest in gear and a darkroom do not take the time to learn how to test and evaluate materials and chemistry. They bounce from one film, paper, and developer to another depending on the latest trend or magazine article, never getting the results the experts get. Experimentation is great, I do it quite a bit, but I have my tried and true combinations that I have fine tuned over the years that I can use as a baseline for evaluation of new materials.

If you look at the almost any great photographer past or present, their gear, materials and technique are usually fairly simple and consistent. Even Adams who used a variety of materials and cameras based his decisions based on past experience and knowledge gained through testing .