Near-total agreement here, MH. For the best overall quality and ease of editing and manipulation, uncompressed is definitely better and is more desirable. But many in my industry cannot wean themselves off delivering audio as MP3 (and MP2) files. They’ve just done it for so long, its in their DNA.
Can’t agree with you though on the notion that one scheme does not sound better than the other. With AAC, they’ve rethought the whole perceptual coding thing to sound a lot better and clearer (not as much dependence on masking), and you could really swing low on the allowable sample rates and still come away with decent (admittedly not pristine) audio. While I personally cannot hear it, its good to know its there.
There’s also more to it than music storage or Internet transfer. Limited-capacity portable mediums with multichannel audio (such as 5.1 on a DVD) depend on MP4 and AAC to fit all that magic into a tiny little space. MP3 wont give you that.
I’ll continue to use MP3 because that is what is expected in my industry, and you deserve an official AP Tip of the Hat for your LAME workaround – simple and brilliant, and Im going to use it here and at the day job. I just know that, at least for radio broadcast and voiceover files, its time to leap ahead.