This argument has a few inherent flaws. You said: 1. You asserted the J24 is not a stepping stone; 2. Excluding those with a business interest is a self-serving mechanism designed help you win your argument, but it seems ignorant to HOW people move on to "bigger things". 3. You said "No one since T-Hutch" has moved on to "bigger and better" things from this class in 10 years.
1. Stepping Stone boats may include: Lightning, Star, Thistle, Lightning, J22, J24, J70, J80, Sonars
They are generally small dingy-ish boats that reinforce dinghy skills and afford growth at a relatively cheap cost compared to larger boats. They have great amateur competition, are cheap to afford, and consume a lot of sails. Great places to learn to become a Pro sailor.
2. Those who are not self-made millionaires or Trustafarians have to work to stay in sailing, and many great sailors are awarded jobs in the sailing industry because they are great sailors. They need to support themselves while moving on to bigger and better things. So... yes, they start small in one of the boats listed above, and move on to things like the VOR (Charlie Enright), Olympic Campaigns (Andy Horton), Pan Am Games or College Coaching (John Mollicone for both) or pro sailing with other programs. Moreover, they often return to these sort of boats whenever they can to keep their skills sharp.
2. Charlie Enright is the current skipper of VOR team Alvimedica. He bought a salvaged J24 at cheap cost, was competitive regionally and nationally, later worked at North Sails, and is now a VOR skipper.
In short, there are a lot of stepping stone classes, the J24 is one of them, and we have a current VOR skipper who cut his teeth in the J24, among many other boats before and since.