Like so many of the conversations that have gone before this one, we wind up in the time-for-money vs. value-for-money standoff.
As a programmer, if you can find someone who will reliably pay you an hourly rate that you feel comfortable with - and it's comfort that you seek - they you should take the money, do what you're contacted for, and (for extra points) add value anyplace you can. On the other hand, I see a tension between a demand for good programmers and a lot of people looking for work. I make no predictions about how that is going to play out.
I was working with a startup team where the technical co-founder stated that it would take something like $500k to buy him out - of a pre-revenue company. He based this valuation on "what I could have made based on similar people working for big companies doing similar work." If you want a job with a big company -- and can get one -- TAKE THE JOB, but stop comparing apples to tractors.
As a founder/client, if you don't have a clear specification of what is required and what kind of time, money, and expertise will be required to get it, it's quite likely that your costs are going to spiral out of control. There are good tools for incremental design and development (lean, agile, and other buzzwords). Remember that these are just tools and that your job as a founder includes managing the money and building a revenue stream.
Since this is Founder Dating, I'm going to assume that most of the people here are interested in getting new ventures off the ground. At the risk of pointing out the obvious:
- New ventures are risky - there is a high likelihood that people won't get paid what they are worth.
- The goal is to build a viable venture - in which case the payoff can be greater than a traditional "job" - but the big paydays are few and far between.
- Startups are not a get rich quick (or even a reliable get rich slow) endeavour - you should get involved only if you you see an opportunity (based on how you personally define opportunity) that exceeds the risk.
- Pre-revenue funding options are getting harder to find ... so there is not a lot of money to pay anyone. A big part of making a startup successful is making sure that everyone has a enough resources to live - and realistic expectations about what that means. It's a difficult conversation and almost no one wants to have it as early in the process as they really should.
So - if you want to START a company (as a non-technical person, coder, money person, whatever) be prepared to act like a founder. If you want to buy services in the marketplace, be prepared to pay market prices (which many early stage companies can't afford). If you are offering goods and services based in the marketplace and you've got a cart full of $10 apples that are rotting in place, maybe your apples aren't worth $10 ... even if the cart next to you is selling out at $15.
The emerging economy is not business-as-usual ... founding a startup is even more (less?) so. It takes both creativity and a willingness to be creative. But that makes people uncomfortable so maybe it's just easier to complain about how "The other guy just doesn't understand how this industry works".