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Go Arianna!

Here’s a letter to the Los Angeles Times:

I’m in the odd position of agreeing with the Huffington Post.  Michael Walker criticizes that popular on-line publication for its policy of not paying $$$ to its contributors (“Why should writers work for no pay?” April 1).  Arianna Huffington replies that the abundant exposure that the site she founded (and now owned by AOL) provides to aspiring pundits is itself sufficient compensation.

Ms. Huffington is unquestionably correct.  Because her site is only one of thousands of venues to which pundits can peddle their prose, and because many lesser-known pundits continue to eagerly write for the HP without expecting money from the HP, the HP clearly provides ample value to its contributing writers. Tit for tat.  Voluntary trade with mutual benefits.  All parties to the transactions gain and no one loses.  Works out nicely; it truly does.

A lesson here that I hope Ms. Huffington and her colleagues will take to heart is that third parties, even when well-intentioned, are poorly positioned to assess the merits of – and to second-guess the detailed terms of –  capitalist acts among consenting adults.

Donald J. Boudreaux