i agree with 95% of what you say!
a forum is not where you go and ask "How to mix" and expect to learn the process. anyone nice enough to respond to a bland question like that on a forum with 1,000,000 damn posts and 80% of them are just like yours isn't telling you everything you need to know and cannot if their is any character limit on this forum. when you skip steps and try to do a 24 hour crash course on learning any skill your end result will reflect the lack of knowledge and dedication. you cannot mix a track that rivels a track released by a major distributor when the people involved on their project have years of experience and damn near unlimited resources. buy a book, cop a dvd, take a class, something but don't expect to learn everything here when you don't even know enough to ask the right questions!
I agree that you should make sacrifices if necessary to get proper equipment and not expect miracles out of $200 pieces. but at the same time the area you can work on even when your money is low is your ears and skills. a great engineer could mix a song done by most of us here (including myself) and make it sound great using the same equipment we used compared to what we did. odds are you will have the finances to upgrade your equipment prior to perfecting your mix on your current setup so this isn't a issue anyways as long as you hear progress in each mix you do! Speaking of MJ, i heard he prefers to record on a SM57, as everyone knows a sub $100 mic not a $3,000 Neuman....
ppl need to start rating their mixes on a curve compared to their past work not compared to what has been released by major distributors. no better competition then yourself. if i had to rate the final sound of what i record and mix i would say it isn't up to the standard. but they sure sound a hell of allot better then they did 1 year ago!
i now go by