Monday, July 07, 2008

Fair pay for fair work.

The idea that information is free seems to be a mantra for the Internet. Some ask if that is not just a capitalist scheme to short change those who supply content... for free.

Consider Huffington Post. Paying their writers is "not our financial model" says the founder, Ken Lerer. Yet, time and again the progressives who loudly support Danny Glover and Unite Here, who march with the California Nurses Association when they strike over wages and benefits, have no qualms about using venues that do not pay the writer, or the reporter.

This argument was brought forward by Stephen Smoliar at The Rehearsal Studio. Smoliar is a scientist and writer by trade. The Rehearsal Studio is where he tries on / works out ideas that may or may not find their way into other content. His view is the progressivism has lost touch with the world of work.

Whether or not you agree with that, you have to pay attention to those who he cited in this post, especially Timothy Egan, whose NY Times blog entry, Save the Press, is quoted liberally. Egan is fighting for his job. He wants to be paid for doing what he does, as we all do. However, what he does is to write, and content is a commodity to be acquired and the lowest price and resold for what ever anyone can make out of it.
If any of those guys on the docks heard that I was now part of a profession that asked people to labor for nothing, they’d laugh in their lunch buckets — then probably shut The Huffington Post down. Doesn’t the “progressive” agenda, much touted on their pages, include a living wage?
So what is it about Huffington Post, or OpEdNews that makes them the model to be emulated? Well, it seems to be in the best tradition of the worst of Capitalism, to make money off the labor of someone else.

Is there a Green Solution? What we currently have are venues for private publishing (Green Party Watch or Green Commons if it gets revived???) and an attempt to build a social networking site for Greens. (Green Change.) Yet, I have no answer for my wife when she asks me how much I am making for all the time I spend here and would not my time be better spent completing the very long list of homeowner tasks that we have agreed must be done.

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