I would believe the "It's meant to do that, they're gathering data!" excuses a little bit more if SpaceX wasn't undertaking significant redesigns between flights... not small adjustments that would imply they're removing failure modes, but complete changes to the whole thing. They've yet to get anywhere near a "final design", and how many flights should that undertake before anyone is willing to trust it with serious cargo or human lives?
I've no doubt they will get there eventually - for all the billions of dollars and hundreds of highly skilled engineers working on it, you'd be shocked if they didn't - but any claims that this is cheaper or more efficient that the other options have to be taken with a massive pinch of salt. This has become a "too big to fail" project, so Elon's famously poor project planning and time estimates are going to be indulged simply because everyone involved cannot afford to loose face at this point.
..at which point we get finger pointing and "but look what the other guys are doing".. sure. Just because the other guys are incompetent doesn't make your mess any better, does it? This is not a new frontier of space exploration, it's the same old indulgent process of throwing cash at the person who makes the most noise. Except in previous programmes we all got some benefit and non-stick frying pans, whereas this time the only person benefitting from the US Government budgetary excess is Musk.