Once in a while, CPU cycles do matter. Once in a while you have a daily report that takes 25 hours to generate. Once in a while, you have a speed problem that's only going to get worse, so throwing hardware at it won't work long. Once in a while, programmer time is free (hobby projects, volunteer time), but hardware is expensive.
Most of the time, I agree with you. When a "speed my code" question comes up, I think it's important to question whether it's the right question. Once in a while, it is.