Admitting that people who pay gain an advantage is an easy concession to make. Anyone who won't admit it is just being absurd on purpose or likely doesn't understand the larger picture.
With that being said, making a claim that it shouldn't be present is equally absurd, or perhaps misunderstood. It can be a free MMO if that is the way you choose to play. If you elect to pay, then yes, you will gain an advantage, which will have an impact on the game and its ultimate outcome. Defining what that advantage is, or is not, is a whole other conversation.
Of course Firefly is attempting to make a buck from its playerbase. As a player, you are enticed to spend that buck with the lure of gaining an advantage with the ultimate goal of "winning", whatever that is.
Does anyone think this game was truly created to be free and Firefly did it out of the goodness of their heart for the betterment of gaming and its players?
I do not think that. I would imagine Firefly has to pay its employees and profit for their shareholders to stay in existence.
Stating that this business model will continue if the masses don't rise up is simply not true. This business model will cease to exist with a revolution by its player base.
So yes, the individual paying larger amounts toward the game will have some undefined advantage in making king, sheriff, steward, or being stronger, etc over the individual who does not make as large of payments, or none at all.
Each individual has to make their choice of how they want to play based on the conditions present. This particular component of the game will not, and cannot change. It canot change because this component is what allows it's very existence in the first place.
Just some new guy's thoughts.