Yet there are people telling me that a bargain basement scope of today is SO much better than a top of the line scope from 20 years ago, due to improvements in lenses and coatings.....
You're right - clarity and light transmission are much better today in even the bottom barrel scopes. The problem though is retical gearing. In order to save money, the cheap scopes use retical gearing that just doesn't hold up. You can look through them and see the target clearly but your groups will look like a shotgun pattern because the reticals move with each shot.