It's hard to accept that you have read my posts because that is something that I haven't claimed. Try again. Yes I went on to the site and no I didn't download a free trials version because I couldn't see one being offered. I was therefore thrown back on relying upon their blurb which gave every impression that it was a prettifying program for people who like pretty pictures. If Elements is more than this then they should say so at the outset otherwise it's a marketing fail. Really, I shouldn't need to spend time looking for something that they do not suggest is there.
You said, and I quote, "those who do actually turn a penny or two without vast investment in equipment. " So my point was, and is, that if you don't make a living from it then it's either not the right product for you, or you have to accept the pain of purchasing pro level software when you're not a pro. The indication from your post, was that you make some small return from a small investment.
You also appear to be ignoring Lightroom and only discussing Elements.
That said, from the PE page:
The #1 selling consumer photo-editing software*
Simply unlimited! Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 9 photo-editing software delivers powerful options that make it easy to create extraordinary photos, quickly share your memories in Online Albums and unique print creations, and automatically organize and help protect all your photos and video clips.
You then have a link to features, reviews, customer comments and so on. Since you haven't actually stated what it is you want to do, it's difficult to tell you whether this will work for you (and difficult for Adobe) which is why they have a large, friendly, yellow TRY button right below BUY, so you can check it out for yourself. For USD80-, it's very inexpensive.http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshopel/
Turning our attention to Lightroom, they use the same TRY/BUY buttons - you can see for yourself at:http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshoplightroom/
At USD300-, this obviously moves up in the expense scale, but you get more - again, the site has a list of features and the opportunity to trial it.
Now shall we move to PDF? This was created by Adobe in 1993. Since they released it as an open standard, how exactly are they trying to "corner the project"? They opened it up in 2008. It's not exactly 100% open, but then so what? They invented it - they can release it at whatever level they like.
It seems you're here to have a whinge. Fine, go for it. If you actually want some advice or suggestions, this thread has many.