1. Junk dissaude's people from becoming really interested. It's only
the most rabid observer who can stick it out with trash while waiting
for a good scope to deliver itself.
2. Good scopes are FAR cheaper today than 20 years ago. In 1970, a
serviceable (barely) 60mm refractor cost $75.00. Today, about double
that. Compare that with any other product you can name. Except
3. If the "bug" doesn't really bite and you have to sell the scope,
you'll get back a decent percentage of what you paid if you invest in a
decent scope. IMO, a 4" reflector or a basic 80mm refractor is a
mininum. Crappy white 60mm refractors on spindly mounts won't net you
$25.00 on Ebay but a name-brand 80mm refractor telescope can be resold.
4. Light pollution is far worse today. What someone could see in an
80mm refractor in 1970 requires a 6" reflector or equivalent today to
been seen from the same generally urbanized area where 95% of us live.
This requires investment in something reasonable.
5. Above a certain level, there are no truly bad scopes anymore. No
company will put out a bad 6" scope, but plenty will sell HORRIBLE
6. You have to contend with all manner of flashy alternate
entertainments today, so whatever the kid uses had better deliver.
7. Too few young people are joining the ranks of amateurs and too few
are pursuing careers as scientists and engineers. The only way to
reverse this is to "get them interested early."