How much mulch is too much mulch?

Does this bother anyone else but me?
Mulch volcanos.
They’re everywhere.
Are they really necessary?
This much?
Don’t get me wrong.   I am a big fan of mulch.
To me, a flower bed without mulch is like uncombed hair or a badly wrinkled shirt.  It’s still my flower bed, it just looks unkept.
But this??
This is equal to having bouffant hair or wearing 5 shirts at once.  It just doesn’t look right.
I’ve read time and time again that mulching this much around trees will suffocate the roots and the tree will die.  I have driven through this particular neighborhood for fifteen years and every year a tree or two succumbs from something.  Is it from the mulching madness of landscapers?

A tree used to live here
I’m asking you, does this look right?
Or this?
Please, if there are any mulchologists in the crowd, enlighten me.
Thank you, thank you very mulch.