Sunday, August 06, 2006

On citations, hyperwages, and Gawad Kalinga

What a wonderful phenomenon the internet is. One can upload useful data for the benefit others, including those who check whether they are influencing the thought processes of others. For the StreetStrategist, it should be gratifying enough that what he writes about may not only be taken seriously, but that the practice of seeing things from different perspectives and applying it to different contexts has been recognized and adopted. That is the most radical contribution the StreetStrategist could make. Or maybe, just deep down in his inner most self, he thinks like an anthropologist?
On another note, I do not see any conflict between Hyperwages and social movements like Gawad Kalinga (GK). I have never taken an either-or stance. Hyperwage is an economic theory. GK, in some aspects, practices Hyperwages. Last week, I had coffee with the GK founder in the former slum colony of BASECO, which in January 2004 suffered a catastrophic fire that burned down 3,400 homes. Since then, GK and Habitat for Humanity Inc. (HFHI) helped build about 1,000 and 1,500 homes respectively. GK though used a more holistic approach of values formation, sweat equity, livelihood, skills, and educational opportunities, environmental programs, preventive health, etc., while HFHI just built the homes and did not provide post-housing community development support. The results are glaring.
GK’s coffee shop, named Bayani Coffee- they are brewing heroes, is in the BASECO GK Village. It is airconditioned and uses surplus Starbucks furniture. Coffee retails for P65 a cup and they do brisk business when open (usually during build or work days, which is quite often). The barista/servers that day were Fil-Am volunteers but they expect to transition to local hires paid with living wages. SMART and the Ateneo, two GK supporters, are planning to hire a total 50 staff to oversee their respective GK projects as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. So, the free-rider issue against GK is non-existent. GK aims to eradicate the culture of dependency prevalent in poverty. Nothing is free when participating in GK programs. You either reciprocate with sweat equity in home building, participation in skills and values formation programs, or community development participation. GK communities aim to be economically productive communities and thus can be laboratories for Hyperwage Theory experimentation if something can be arranged. GK proponents come from the private sector and can understand the principles behind Hyperwages.
New theories are paradigm shifts, which have a revolutionary trajectory. Social movements are useful vehicles in paradigm shifts. I think HT and GK are complementary and hope to further explore this.