It used to be that freelance meant you were a free-agent. Now, it just means you work for free, or scraps.
I understand Thayer’s anger, and I’m glad he started the conversation. And as much as I respect (want to be?!) Matt Yglesias or Alexis Madrigal and hear them on the fact that there is no easy solution to pay smart writers and writers have to write and gosh, darn, they never did really make any money anyway– hearing them talk about why I should write for free makes me envision doing very mean things to them. Because they’re in. And they’re not even trying to tell us — digital natives who aren’t entirely shocked by the fact that we can’t make a decent living, yet still hopeful — that it gets better. What they’re saying is “write for free and maybe you’ll be able to make your own brand someday, but we sure as hell can’t pay you for it. We definitely can not even hire you for menial writing labor.”