As an engineer, I can tell you that not training is much, much more expensive.
The last training my employer sent me to, this past spring, cost them a bit under $3000 total. For that $3000, they can:
1) now brag that they have a Foo(tm) certified developer working on the project (quite possibly worth far more than that $3k by itself), and
2) I can now actually do some key parts of the project without wasting a month or three bootstrapping the same info I learned in a week.
And just to put #2 in perspective, I cost my employer almost that much per week. You want "wildly expensive"? Waste a month of my productive time. That sort of short-sighted penny-pinching gets expensive fast. Yes, sending me off for training costs more than the list price of the training; it has an ROI many, many times that upfront cost, however.
As a former employee, I can tell you that conferences - on the whole - are wasted time and money for the employer.
Then you've gone to the wrong sort of conferences. I have yet to go to a conference that didn't help my employer more than having my butt in a chair for a week (and yeah, you could easily twist that into an obvious slam). And as a bonus, yes, conferences do offer a bit of a mini-vacation, so I come back refreshed and excited, on top of whatever more academic or networking-related benefits I get from going.
That said, I will agree with you and others who deride the FP's implied sense of entitlement. If my employer didn't see the value in improving the breadth of their in-house expertise, hey, their call; though I can promise that hell would get chilly before they directly benefited from anything I pay for out of my own pocket (fortunately not a problem at the moment - my current employer has a truly awesome continuing education program, and as long as I'll put in the time, they'll put in the dime for just about anything even remotely reasonable).