I spent too many after-work evenings stressed and unhappy because yet another chap does not understand or care how software business works. I have no problem confronting anyone higher up, but I do not have the backing of my fellow nerds. Having kids is a bitch, eh? I will likely quit soon.
Frankly, I wish programmers in general had more balls. Let's look at this:
"""I don't work for clients who pay money, this is an in-house development team on in-house development websites. So, it's not like I can charge for it or anything. And at the end of the day, we have to try to hit deadlines."""
If you were dealing with a $-paying client and if you covered your ass by having a contract (http://vimeo.com/22053820?utm_source=swissmiss), then changes in spec would cost this client more time AND more money (or potentially same or less time but exponentially more money). Your company is trying to get away with changing the spec without incurring the cost of more time and more money.
In the mean time, trying to hit deadlines causes you and your co-workers UNNECESSARY stress; you cannot spend a quality weekend with friends/family. It really is unnecessary, because whoever is throwing work at you probably do not even know it, which is sad.
My proposed solution: collectively have the balls to confront them and explain that there is no free lunch and everything has cost, that an auto-mechanic would take longer and charge more if specs were changed mid-work, that a contracting agency would take longer and charge more if specs were changed mid-work, and there is a good reason for it. If they are not willing to work with you in a reasonable manner, then you as a group will get up and leave, and they will have to hire developers who can pick up the project where it was left off and deliver on time.
Then there is also a promise of agile development, which implies no hard deadlines.
I am yet to see programmers go on strike, but this would have been something. Incompetent managers are too abundant in software companies. Way too many people want to get something for nothing, on Craigslist or within an actual company. http://teddziuba.com/2011/07/the-craigslist-reverse-programmer-troll.html
Programmers need to have more balls.