I must say I agree on most of these points.
I personally don't feel the need to own a pair of Manolo's, but Christian Louboutin's... I'd lie, cheat, and steal for a pair.
I agree that it's the lure of the brand and the lure of the luxuriousness that make shoes like these so appealing. And for me, that doesn't just mean that the brand is famous and expensive. There are plenty of high-end brands that I actively DON'T want (ie Louis Vuitton).
It's something about the specific image the brand projects. Manolo's project an image that doesn't inspire that "must have" feeling in me. But Louboutin's, with the sass of the red sole and the slightly edgier styles... that gets me hooked bigtime.
As Shoesense said above, I'd have to get flats or low wedges. I'm not about to pretend I could (or would want to) walk in 4+ inch heels. And I'd certainly only buy them on sale. But the science of branding has certainly sucked in this particular victim.
If the shoe doesn't fit, must we change the foot? --Gloria Steinem