"what it didn't do was create applications that would be easy to maintain 5 or 10 years down the line"
Ah but you see, what happens is, a business will be happy to pay a premium to get an expert in to build an all singing all dancing new system...but they won't pay a premium for the same expert to maintain it, they'd rather hand it over to Steve in the basement...because he's way cheaper on his £30k salary and he's already there or Rakesh and his merry band of sweatshop workers in Bangalore because they cost a few pounds an hour...the latter is changing though, because Indian workers are waking up and realising they're being fucked and they're demanding more money...which is great for everyone because they get paid more, and us in the West can finally compete on quality as well as price...which means pretty soon we'll have the upper hand again...old Steve though, he's a problem...he'll never demand more money because he's happy to disappear into the company and take his middle of the road salary for an easy life...he's also happy that contractors come in to build stuff because he will always be able to pass the buck to the "fucking contractors" if the shit hits the fan.
Contractors are only long gone, because a lot of businesses are too tight to keep them around, after a certain period of time, businesses get it into their heads that they're paying for nothing, so they axe the contractor...it has nothing to do with the contractor wanting to fuck off on to the next job...I much prefer long term relationships as a freelancer than tarting around looking for the next job...but unfortunately, that's not the norm...I do have a few long standing clients that I've had for over 10 years, and those are valuable to me...but I usually have 9-10 other short term clients on the go as well that I know won't keep me past a certain point (usually 6 months) because of either a) they can't afford me or b) they're too cheap to keep me...they always keep my number though...just in case...and they always...*always* get in touch again eventually.
These "crazy solutions built by contractors" are usually not difficult to maintain 5-10 years down the line if you've always had the appropriate expertise to maintain it over the 5-10 years...what typically happens is a business will get a contractor in to get the new "all singing all dancing" tech, ditch the contractor once it's built, run the "new" solution for 5-10 years, hand over maintenance to the internal sysadmins who will never patch it, never maintain it...then end up in a hole because their in house guys weren't, aren't and never will be capable of maintaining it, because they are sysadmins, not engineers...so they hire another external expert again to build a new system 5-10 years down the line and the cycle repeats.
The second most common situation is that the in house guys will have a crack at it themselves, but hit a wall...then get a contractor in to do it properly, who will discover that half the problem is the hardware that was purchased wasn't specced up correctly due to a toxic combination of aggressive bean counting and "sensitive" permies that don't push back...so the contractor is left having to implement workarounds to shoehorn what they want into the crap they've bought that can sometimes be complicated to maintain or are just always going to be problematic...in this situation you'll struggle to keep your contractor around because he doesn't need that shit in his life...he'd much rather spend his time looking after a solution on a better specced set of hardware that isn't going to get in his way...personally, as a freelancer I'd much rather look after a customer that has legitimate problems that need resolving than a customer that has shot itself in the foot not ordering enough disk capacity, under performing CPUs or RAM etc...these are problems that only money can solve and once business has spunked a wad on a load of kit, they aren't likely to spunk another wad on rectifying bad specifications because "well the documentation said the minimum requirements were X"...no amount of explaining will get them to understand "yeah, but that is for 10 users, you have 200 users"...especially when you have a "knows enough to be dangerous" in house permie contradicting the contractor because he feels threatened and overlooked.
Rest assured permies, contractors don't want your jobs...we'd rather be your pal and use you as a set of "remote hands" a lot of us would also chuck in some assistance for free if you call us direct (without clearing it with your boss), because we want an easy life too...because coming onsite isn't profitable and making your boss sweat every time he hears you called us, because he thinks he's getting a bill, isn't productive...we'd much rather charge £30 an hour for remote than £60 an hour for onsite...because while we're onsite we can only make £60 an hour...whereas remote, we can multitask and make twice that.