The amount of incipient complexity in programming has been growing, not going down. What's more complex, "hello, world" to the console in Python, or "hello world" in a browser with the best and newest web stack? Mobility and microservices create lots of new edge cases and complexity—do non-programmers seem particularly well-equipped to handle edge cases to you?
The problem has never really been the syntax—if it were, non-programmers would have made great strides with Applescript and SQL, and we'd all be building PowerBuilder libraries for a living. The problem is that programming requires a mode of thinking which is difficult. Lots of people, even people who do it daily, who are trained to do it and exercise great care and use great tool tools, are not great at it. This is not a syntax problem or a lack of decent libraries problem. We have simple programming languages with huge bodies of libraries. What's hard is the actual programming.
I agree. There's a never-ending stream of things (remember Klik & Play?) meant to make programming "easy for everyone" and they never manage to actually do so, because it's not possible to take away difficulty without taking away flexibility.
One of my father's COBOL books from the punch-card days has a similar sales pitch about English-like syntax and ordinary people becoming programmers.
What people do now with, for example, excel, was certainly once reserved to people with programming skills.
Ordinary people have not become programmers.
The guy claimed that his company had "done it properly", but it required a huge upfront investment in infrastructure, setting up everything properly and keeping it running.
Wasn't the idea that they were supposed to make things simpler and cheaper?