Fair priced by today's standard, that is. It's kind of unfair to say that an older set was more fairly priced than its modern counterparts because a lot has changed since then. There's also another very important piece to this price, and I'll get to that soon.
So you show a joke minifigure, a small disney princess set and a $20 ender dragon set for your case of lego not being the same quality they used to be. Compare almost every single new set to an older one, they're going to be better as a toy. After all, this a child's source of play. If they can't play with it because it's always breaking, then that's going to be a problem.
New set is $20, old was $70, and is around double its retail price now. What were you expecting?
I mean you're right, but the point still stands.
Well with inflation taken into account, the increase in quality of the lego product in the last 12 years (don't deny that Lego's quality has increased with time), and the licensing of the product, I think 50 dollars is pretty fair for what you're getting. It's not my cup of tea, but I know a lot of people will be willing to pay that much for this set.
Piece count has nothing to do when justifying the price of a set unless there's a significant difference. 724 vs 579 isn't that big of a difference.
Anyway, I'll start wrapping this up. When mentioning the price of a product, it's important to know that this is about the business its itself, which like any other major corporation, has employees. With all of the factories and employees the company has (around 20,000), there can be a major impact if the company decides to decrease their prices. I can't say how big it is, but I'm certain that this would result in employees being cut because they can't afford to keep them. There are most certainly rip-off's that lego is making, and i also understand that it is our money we're giving them, but sometimes it's an extreme. You can only complain to a certain extent, I suppose.
I don't know if lego could sell enough products to counter this. It's not like they can wake up one morning and say "let's decrease the prices of our products for 20%".
The way I view it at least, I don't want anyone to lose their job. I'm not advocating that people buy more lego, but they're just a toy company and not some evil monopoly out to screw us over and put us in financial burden.
It's ok to have an opinion on the matter. Believe me, I have complained about some prices myself, but I think we've seen a looot of stuff on this site about lego being too expensive, not as good as it once was, etc.