1) survivor bias. People should not be expected to put all their effort into working with a frustrating telescope if they only have a passing interest. A passing interest can however be turned into a lifetime hobby if the correct instruments had been provided. You are a lucky survivor with above average tenacity to deal with a telescope like that. Consider of all the people who had the same scope and lost interest. Now imagine how things would be different had they been given a "real" telescope instead.
2) a 40mm f/15 Newtonian with slip fit push pull ramsden eyepieces and a second surface secondary on a ball and socket tripod? Please elaborate!
Regardless of what telescope people begin with, the vast majority lose interest. That's reality. It's not about the telescope.
A passing interest is a passing interest.. The success or failure is not about the equipment but rather about the individual. If a 70mm F/4.3 refractor can kill the hobby, the heart and spirit, the curiosity and patience, just aren't there.
To be an amateur astronomer requires tenacity.. a great deal of tenacity. A simple telescope is the least of the obstacles. Cold, windy nights, sleep deprivation, hot and humid, mosquitoes, long trips and clouds.. Tiny, little barely visible objects.. there are good reasons there are only a few of us. Most people look through a telescope and are mildly pleased but for it to be a passion, a life long hobby, that comes from within and not from the equipment. There has to be something special, some connection to the universe, some magic in the eyepiece. Something very special that drives the passion.
A telescope like Mr. Dan's or the $5 at a garage sale 60mm I started with, that first view of the Orion nebula.. That's what it's really about. That's what most DSOs look like even in a large scope. When I am out there and it's 38 degrees F and the wind is blowing 20 mph and I am on top of a ladder looking at some barely visible 15th galaxy.. it's not M42 in an 8 inch Dob on pleasant evening..
It's not an anomaly that many of us started with very simple, poorly made instruments. Think of them as a tenacity test.. Think of them as a reality test.. Because this is what this hobby is really about. Not the easy views but the challenges.
If you want to understand how to deal with beginning amateurs who have purchased scopes like these, the first thing is get it out of your mind that these are hobby killers. These scopes have glass achromatic optics and can provide some nice views.. Show them what their scope can do, point it at the moon, Saturn, Jupiter, the Pleiades. Show them Albireo, M42..
Don't show them what your telescope can do.. Concentrate on what they have and make the most of it. And if it happens to have a 1.25 inch focuser, maybe slip in a good eyepiece...
WWGD? Think of that as an operating principle. What Would Galileo Do?