Blessings have always been a single-target buff castable on anyone, like PW:F, MotW, or AI. Those used to be single-cast also, because the game was designed around 5-man content. Rebuffing your group every 30 minutes is no big deal. But if you're one of two druids in a 40-man raid, rebuffing 20 people individually every time there's a wipe? Fuck that. It's not fun. It doesn't make the game harder -- it makes it much more tedious. So they changed it. Those spells can now target 5 people at once (one group). The same was true for paladin blessings, so they changed those. It doesn't make sense to base those around groups since the MT doesn't want to share the BoS that the rogue in his group gets. So they did it around classes -- still averaging 5 targets per cast.
From day one, paladins could bless the whole raid and shaman totems only affected a group. Sure, it might have been inconvenient as hell, but I want to hear an Alliance guild come in here and tell me that they would've let BoK lapse on their tanks and rogues while learning the Twin Emps because "man, recasting all that shit every 5 minutes is so annoying." No. In any situation where it really matters (i.e., not trash, not farming some easy boss) the buffs would be there. Trying to point to Greater Blessings and argue that now shamans need a raid totem makes no sense. Why not give warlocks a raidwide imp? Maybe moonkin would actually be worthwhile if they gave the entire raid +% crit!
Not entirely true. Dealing with the 5min buff was a nontrivial operation.
A lot of classes can use 4 Blessings (Anyone wants Kings, anyone can use Light, almost everyone wants Salv, everyone wants either Wisdom or Might). To buff to full potential, a raid of 4 or 5 Pallies has some people buffing 40 raid members. So let's say you write of some of the buffs as being frivolous, and pick 2 important ones for each class. Each Paladin is now buffing 20 people, which takes about a minute before the pull (30 or so to buff, 30 to drink). Realistically, a big longer, due to limited people with Kings, people with Improved Blessings, etc.
So, even a boss pull that you're fully preparing for, some raid members are going in with Kings at <4mins. Can you rebuff Kings on the whole raid 4 minutes later? Sure, but takes over a minute of Paladin time, and a huge chunk of mana. So only some people even get Kings for more than 4 minutes of your fight. Salv would have been the same way, if Improved Salvation hadn't been around since the beginning.
Greater Blessings changed the whole picture. Now, buffs were limited by their actual durations and stacking properties, not by the logistics of casting them. Every raid member having 3-4 Blessings is a reality now, where is wasn't before, and this is what the Horde whiners on R&D are picking up on. Like I said in my first post, I'd like to see the logistics of totems ironed out in similar fashion.
Egal: The analogy between Greater Blessings and raid-wide totems just isn't there. Coming in with an idea is nice, but at some point, you have to listen to what basically every person on this thread is telling you.