Why couldn't they just have an offline mode and an online mode, as in one where you can do whatever you want and the other where you do regional play? I think you already know the answer.
I agree though. We are only a small minority voicing our opinions compared to the vast majority that bought the game. But it still sucks and I'm sure others who bought the game and haven't been keeping up with it as much are thinking the same.
I am not as cynical as others. I do actually think this is just the way that Maxis have designed the game to try and embrace these new social experiences that so many people strive for. I do think that they have made a mistake with it. There definitely seems that there is no reason why they couldn't make some offline single city mode (ideally a much larger city).
I have personally been playing LOADS of the game and have really really enjoyed it and have had minimal online issues, until now. For some reason I now can't play the game, but I still don't have any regrets over my purchase, I know I shouldn't accept it, but I really should not being playing it all the time