I agree with your philosophical points and also the comments about Joel. As a long time reader of his column, I was really surprised. It definitely sounds like a rant in all respects.
Architecture astronauts or not - Google is getting bigger and bigger by offering web based software for the masses. I think a better point to explore would be that Microsoft has taken a follow-ship position, and how it has happened.
I also tried to listen to Joel's new podcasts but boy are they ever boring! The title of each podcast is "podcast #1", "podcast #2" and so on - pretty clear they didn't have a clear topic to explore intelligently.
Also, I've come to expect suits to denegrate and deminish the contribution of SW developers, but not Joel! I am sure that Joel has at least a few past columns in which he explained the economics of SW on the side of SW developers, such that one good, cheaply distributed and properly marketed product can bring in a great deal of money, which is why a SW developer can justifiably make more than a doctor or accountant. (The SW developers contribution is effectively spread to lots of places at the same time, doing lots of work not easily done otherwise.)
Not to mention that breaking into 6 figures isn't that much any more: taxes go up, gas goes up, hopefully starting salaries for in-demand fields go up.