Let me start out by saying I can't imagine how much it would suck to work your butt off, go through grad school, get an advanced degree, and then end up teaching as an adjunct for $2000 / class with no benefits, no job security, and if the situation persists for more than a couple of years, little hope of getting a tenure track position.
But basic economics gives us a reason why the pay is so low and the benefits so miserly:
THE SUPPLY OF ADJUNCTS IS LARGE RELATIVE TO THE DEMAND FOR ADJUNCTS
The real culprits here are indeed universities. Not the ones that hire adjuncts at low pay, rather the ones who continue to recruit students and turn out MAs and PhDs into a market with little demand for them.
Even though universities are seemingly hiring more adjuncts than ever, adjunct wages are not rising because the supply is expanding just as much.
If schools couldn't fill their teaching schedules at these low prices, then they would have to raise the offered wage.
The problem of adjunct abuse will only be resolved by reducing the excess supply of advanced degree holders.
People, if you expect to get an academic job out of grad school, investigate the job placement records of the programs you are considering. When you pick an advisor, investigate the job placement record of that faculty member.
Don't settle for anecdotes. Get the real, full, data. And be realistic. If they "always place their top students" realize that it might not be you (and that the definition of "top student" may simply be the one who got a job).
When you think about how to spend your time during your graduate program, think about what activities will make you more attractive to academic employers (hint, it's probably not your transcript).
In my field of economics, that means get some teaching experience and try to get at least one publication before you hit the job market. The less prestigious your school, the more important this self-certification of quality becomes.