|laziness, impatience, and hubris|
It's easy to say the certifications don't matter. Hell, I can introduce you to many MBA's who recently spent hundreds of millions of $US on web-based 'features' and called them companies. They, or dad, paid a bit for their certs.
However, if I was looking for Perl programmers, it would at least be interesting to me that someone showed a resume that indicated they'd taken a course from Merlyn, or others, on a specific topic, that they were an active PerlMonk, that they had completed the Basic Perl course, the CGI course, the mod_perl course, etc... from some entity that made sense to me.
Without quibbling over the details of that paragraph, such things at least indicate some interest, involvement and self advancement.
From someone who doesn't have the MBA, I can tell you that more than once I wished I had the damn, "useless", thing...
It would be very interesting to see some sort of an Open Source certification project that offered and came ever-closer to achieving some certifications that many could agree to.
However, none of this thread really speaks to the 'ability to program' as a root skill. It could be addressed by education, but nothing replaces the 'under fire apprenticeship', or realistic mentoring during OJT.
Still, endless temporizing aside, some training/testing/certifying sources that _some_ people, employers, etc, could get their minds and budgets around wouldn't hurt Perl at all, and would likely help many Perl coders in the process...