The PID overrun can also be thwarted by using "exec gconftool..." in the OP's scripts.
My maintainability concern with putting aliases in .bashrc is that only a single shell sees that.
Coming back to performance, the alias solution does incur the (small) per-shell cost of reading, parsing, and keeping in memory the alias, when in most shells you will never need it.
IIRC zsh has one-per-file functions that can reside in a directory somewhere. This is probably the optimal solution here: as maintainable as a shell script, loaded on demand, does not fork a new shell.