I wish! My opinion on this is pretty worthless. Well, Google thinks so anyway or they'd have made me a PR10 ;)
Don't get me wrong, I spend a lot of time and money on developing content. I would like to see pure linking for content, not PR. And there are sites in my industries that buy/sell PR and indulge in various gimmicks. I try to stay white hat... but that is all immaterial. Let's look at the world as it is rather than how we'd like it to be. And, this is how I see it:
Link pop is what is used to allocate importance. Therefore, as long as there is no alternative to link pop - people will want link pop.
Link pop can be achieved organically or using money. As long as there is no clear cut way to tell which link pop was bought (and penalise those sites) - people will buy link pop.
There is no way definitive way to tell which link pop was bought. People will continue to buy it.
Is that democratic, is it fair? No. Yes. And in between. If you assume all searchers are looking for content only then it is not fair. But they are not. If a searcher is looking for commercial sites with online widget ordering because the searchers wants a widget NOW then those sites with content are getting in the way just because they have millions of articles on widgets. I don't want to read about pizzas, how they are made, where the ingredients come from, receipes for pizzas, amusing stories about pizza shaped s*x toys, the world record for largest pizza etc. When I want to eat the go*amn thing, I want to eat the go*amn thing. NOW! The point is that, as a searcher, I'm not always looking for content. Sometimes how much money a site has is what's important.