I don't think that Ruger is different from any manufacturer that builds a product to a particular price point. If the cost of materials goes up, the choice is to either substitute a less expensive component or change the price point. I think that in Ruger's case, they've primarily maintained the price points of the 10/22, at least in comparison to similar rifles from other manufacturers. To do that, they've had to substitute equivalently functional aluminum, plastic and paint for more costly materials.
I've got an old 10/22, a 22/45 Mk III and an LCP. Functionally, the new 10/22s are comparable to the new one (although I do like the feel of the metal parts on mine). The 22/45 and the LCP work exactly as they're supposed to and have never given me a lick of trouble, so I can't complain about Ruger (other than the horrible billboard on the side of the 22/45.)
Well we don't rent pigs and I figure it's better to say it right out front because a man that does like to rent pigs is... he's hard to stop - Gus McCrae