I posted a slightly longer version of this comment in regards to Ron Silliman's post about contests and Foetry. I still don't buy the notion that entering a contest is the same in terms of monetary investment as going to a writing conference or MFA program. The former is by definition, except for one person, throwing money into a black hole. The latter two examples are engagements with people, not an often-rigged game of "$2000 Pyramid".
I guess what bothers me most isn't the larger high-octane contests--those are tied to a mostly bankrupt value system in regards to poetry's place in the world anyway, so whatever. Rather, it's the smaller and more experiental poetry presses--that allegedly are part of a project of a critique of capital and exploring the transgressive realities that poetry can construct in the world--that fall into offering contests and payouts that galls me. "Let's have it both ways! And let's take money from ephebes to subsidize our EXPERIMENTAL VISION!" Doesn't work that way. Or it ought not to, at least, esp. when revolutions in digital printing have lowered costs and raised access everywhere. There are some "post-avant" poets and presses of my generation who fall into this with astounding alacrity and glee--this, I think, is the major question in terms of poetic production that we are dealing with in our generation. And there have been some great solutions (e.g., Ugly Duckling Presse's trapezoidal books).