Lot's of good questions Roy.
As one of the people that does have certs, I like them. I know that I meet the minimum standards for being a MCDBA / MCIPT - Database Administrator. I feel that it shows that I care enough about my career to do that little bit extra. (It's one thing to be constantly learning. It's another to have an actual piece of paper that says I know enough to be certified.)
The new tests have more interactive questions, where not only do you have to know what the answer is, but also how to utilize SSMS to achieve the desired results. As the certs move on to more of those type of questions, I feel that they will become more valuable.
As it is, it is entirely too easy for someone to get one of the test prep kits, memorize the answers, go take the test, and become certified. Those that you see on the forums with the certs giving all these BS answers are, IMO, these. They cheated to get the certification, and they will probably cheat to get the job (homework/interview questions).
Not to say that the prep kits aren't useful... they are. The ones that I have seen have a lot of questions, with the background information about why things work and why the different answers are/are not correct. But, they also make it easy for someone to get certified without having the actual knowledge, by just memorizing the answers to questions. It's amazing just how many of the questions on these prepkits are on the test.