Re: Nope, not arse about face
The value in publishing papers is not in the content. If it was, then the journal would pay the writer for the paper.
Nope, the value is in **being published**. That's what gives the swots kudos, street cred and value. This is part of the measurement used to reward both staff and secure funding. That's why university profs need to keep publishing - quality be damned.
That is wildly oversimplified, to the point of being useless.
Yes, publication is important (often, at some stages, critical) for career advancement for most (but not all) faculty at research institutions, and this provides incentive to publish for the sake of publication, and thus incentive (where the business model has the necessary structure) for publishers to offer publication-for-the-sake-of-publication.
This is universally acknowledged in academia, and many people who know a hell of a lot more about it than you do have discussed the situation in great depth.
It's not a discrete dichotomy or a zero-sum game. Incentives to publish don't immediately evacuate all publications of value. Researchers still publish a lot of useful and innovative content, and read journals, monographs, and collections for that content. And that applies to journals with publication fees, journals without publication fees, closed- and open-access journals, print and electronic journals, and so forth.