I kind of understand the OP's point, he's just going about describing it poorly and so caused a fight between 'casuals' and 'raiders.' It's basically turned into a topic about class warfare and that's not cool.
I personally have always had a bit of an issue with the concept that raid gear is the defacto best PvE gear. And my issue with it is that for some people, the content isn't hard to do. In fact in some instances it can be easier than group content (this is not to say that all raid content is easy, please don't polarize my statements and read the whole post before showering me in flames!).
For your core raiders it's going to be work, yes. But what about the new guy you're bring up through the content to get geared to the point they can do what you're now progressing on? For them, they're getting pretty easy upgrades. They didn't have to learn the strategy, they don't have to contribute as much to the encounter because everyone already has a tier of upgrades beyond what you're doing so that they can join the top level stuff.
Now, RIFT may not have that problem currently, where it seems that going from Experts to end-tier is only a jump (maybe two). But in past games I've played, raiding has been a major gear treadmill and you have to do each level to be able to compete in the next.
The issue comes though when even the mid-ranked raid gear is better in every way than the group/overland/solo content gear you get.
My issue with this is that the gear you get for raiding is applicable to content that comes out for non-raiding. It makes a noticable difference in how you handle the game (and in the worst case scenarios, can cause the balancing of a game to get skewed in favour of a top-heavy player base with a majority of raiders, damaging balance and content for new players who don't raid. This has happened in other games!).
My suggestion for the whole concept of raid vs group vs solo gear was the concept of side-grades, or tier specific stats. Boosts that were applicable to the environment that you were going in to and gaining the gear for.
Hit/Toughness is an example in Rift. EQ2 had a similar mechanic as well (though they also did the same core stat upgrade that Rift does making raid gear point per point better than equivilent level group gear).
But why stop at just Hit/Toughness? Why not have bonuses that let you do more? Or do something different? Unique procs for example, or situational boosts to skills.
The core stats themselves would be similar across all play styles at max level, but you'd get other things that would be required to tune different kinds of content.
Additionally, why should raid content require
higher stats than group content? Or even locked solo (that is, forced to complete with one player)? You're already bringing more people to the event, so your overall numbers will be higher. And mobs can use debuffs or mechanics to challenge those numbers of people.
I know this is totally contrary to the design decisions of most MMOs and I suspect it wouldn't actually be done because well... It's hard. It would be much harder to fine tune each of those advancing encounters, to fine tune each of those new sets of equipment to be needed and unique while not invalidating non-raid content.
And that's the thing. Raid gear invalidates non-raid content. If you end up in a group with someone who has raid gear you can see this immediately. And yes, someone said "But they're helping you" and in a way they are, sure. But in a way they're not as well. They're now acting as your crutch. They won't help you get better because they're carrying you.
Personally, I like to learn and grow in a game at my pace. I don't want a piece of content trivialized because a player with end-game equipment decides to come and 'help.' While I do appreciate the thought, it kills the challenge and with the loss of challenge goes the fun.
It's also why I don't look up strats for mobs before I try them at least once without them. I like learning, picking up things and growing. I don't want to be hand-held, and I don't want to be walked through.
So anywho, that's my wall of text. Will something like this ever apply to Rift? No, absolutely not. The game isn't built that way. But it would be nice to have other means of acquiring top-end gear (means that are hard and quire class knowledge, mechanics excellence, and time) besides having to do the specific task of raiding.