This is how I see it: you can justify the lack of conflict and the lack of any real desperation on Voyager any way you like, but at the end of the day, the question has to be: if there is no conflict amongst the crew, if there is no desperation in Voyager's situation, then what, exactly, is it that distinguishes VOY from every other Star Trek series? And the answer, I think, is "not much."
^^Well I meant more for bartering for supplies etc, but you're right; they could make many of the repairs they needed. People forget that this is a FEDERATION ship, a STAR TREK show, and one of the premises of Star Trek is that humanity has evolved by such leaps and bounds technologically that many material concerns have been overcome or solved. It ain't like they need to mine for oil to run their car; the Federation had developed renewable energy technology. So, whatever adjustments they might have had to make now that they were away from the Federation, would still have to be coupled with the fact they were still a Federation vessel with all of the Federation's technology at their disposal.
Just like there was never going to be any major conflict between the Maquis crew & the Starfleet one. They're both citizens of the Federation. We don't fight our own, that was all explained in DS9's "The Maquis pt.1&2". The fight was with the Cardassians because the Central Government was supplying weapons to both sides. It started in DS9's Circle Trilogy .
The Cardassian Central Command was secretly supplying the Bajorians living the the Demiliterized Zone with weapons. They did it to give them an excuse to supply Cardassian citizens with weapons to fight and harrass the Federation citizens living there too. When the Federation citizens(Maquis) fought back, it finally gave Cardassia a reason to eliminate those people living on their side of the Zone. The Cardies were always the enemy of the Maquis not the Federation.
To amplify: What is the point of combining Maquis and Starfleet crews if (except, of course, for the annual "Maquis episode") everybody gets along just fine from the get-go? Might as well make it an all-Starfleet crew in that case. And what is the point of stranding Voyager away from its chain of command and its supply lines if a) being away from the chain of command isn't going to change the way the ship is run (they're still true-blue Starfleet) and b) the crew is not going to have to find any alternate sources of supplies? Might as well leave them in the Alpha Quadrant.
What is the point of introducing differences in the premise if they're not going to have any effect in the execution? Again, I say: not much. Everything that could and should have made VOY daring and unique was frittered away in favor of everything that made it safe and familiar -- and that's a real shame.
One thing I have often wondered about society is when and where in our history did "being different" become such an important metric of being "good", or "worthwhile, or "of quality"??!! Historically, the importance of being different was passionately defended against forces of hegemony, against forces of universalization and normalization, because at the time, they sought to paint "different" as "inferior, less important". It was vital to defend differences so as to ensure equality WITH plurality in our society.
But somewhere along the way, what was "regular", what was "usual" or "ideal", started to become attacked, for not being "different enough". A whole new force of universalization came to be, only this time, being different was considered properly normal. And when these agents of "difference" began such an attack on the fold, they too began perpetuating the same injustice to which they cried foul before.
It is a sad turn of events in our sociology, and it is this same sort of attack that I see from Brennyren
now, against Star Trek Voyager. Voyager was an exploration, an Exam of Starfleet Ideals. The point of the show was to display what can be accomplished when the crew does their level best to maintain those ideals--and boy did they do a great job. One other thing to note also is that...If in fact your ideals are really and truly strong, then they probably won't come into question all that much! Usually people who end up in moral conundrums tend to be less firm in the belief of their morals to begin with. Maybe Sisko's loyalty to the Starfleet way and the Federation's ideals just wasn't as strong as Janeway's?
You draw allusions to DS9, but remember this: DS9 had a war going on. Much of DS9's "differences" from other ST series that you cite are a direct result of that war storyline--take that out, and DS9 is pretty much like any other ST show--watch one of the non-war episodes (early Seasons, for example) to see evidence of this. For you to expect then, the same level of "difference" from the Federation ideal on Voyager is a bit silly -- Voyager, obviously, couldn't wage war against an entire quadrant! Further, I for one, would hope that humans wouldn't devolve into the type of moral ambiguity seen on DS9 just because they were far from home?!! I think our ideals are made of much sterner stuff.