The only time that recursion is actually useful is when you're branching out.
I think you maybe have the "usefulness" of recursion confused with the "misuse of an un-optimized implementation of recursion in a language compiler".
Just because most C compilers inefficiently implement recursion and many other C based languages do not fix this problem does not mean it is a lost cause. If you look at the compiler technology underlying recent implementations of Standard ML, Haskell or Scheme you will see that recursion can be implemented efficiently.
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