Thanks to everyone for their comments. Special thanks to @happybeing and @polpolrene who always inject a very moderating tone in their involvement in the forums and chat.
For the record @Southside, I am a Canadian and a progressive liberal, so my political and cultural values would align much more with Northern Europe than anything American, and libertarians tend to favor "winner take all" economic models with their definition of freedom being based on competition and individual meritocracy. Oh, and I don't like guns, and I actually like the principle of taxation (if the government isn't corrupt and is truly democratic). I guess if there is a shared value between progressives and libertarians it would be "equal access to opportunity"? At heart I am also a pragmatist, and tend to judge ideas with an eye towards sustainability and utilitarianism.
In any regard, if you look at my original critique, it was not meant to be quite so focused on the theme of developers are not being paid enough money. I did actually reference the benefits of the gift economy present in open source, and that the presence of financial incentives (particularly when they are very small and arbitrary ones) can actually be counter-productive, reducing a potential strong intrinsic incentive, with a poor externalized one.
So, at least in the spirit of being clear on my critique, I will attempt to re-summarize. I strongly distrust systems where access to capital (and/or other rewards) is tightly controlled by small central group of people who then make others viciously compete for an arbitrary reward that is not tied to the specific value they create, and to which they have little influence. The basic function of this model is to impose scarcity on opportunity in order to centralize control, artificially encourage desperation in people to make them easier to exploit, and enable wealth extraction. Yup, this is pretty much the modern handbook for American-style business management for the last 30 years (maximize shareholder value). My personal belief is this model is destructive and unsustainable. No, this not because I am anti-capitalist, but because this is what I believe the true virtue of free markets should deliver to people, and to which human greed and the desire to acquire control, and extract wealth from others, has corrupted it to be.
The size of the opportunity or the specific monetary rewards involved is not the point - the point is the values and principles this management strategy is based on.
To me, the kind of freedom that the SAFE network and blockchain tout, is the ability to circumvent the control and wealth extraction models imposed by middlemen that manipulate too many of our institutions and economic markets. In short, the goal (and this is something that progressives and libertarians would probably agree on), is creating more equality in the access to opportunity, and more open and equal competition that returns value determined by the market (what I would describe as the core virtue of what real capitalism is supposed to deliver). I certainly didn't invent that; I am coming late to a party where I sort of expected this music to already be playing.
Yes, I agree that this perspective can be accused of being overly optimistic to the point of being naive. The SAFE network will attract every type of human behavior found everywhere else, and there is not going to be anyway to stop that. At least in this case, the technology may help mitigate the ability of middlemen to so easily control the flow of value and rewards - so, like many, I do have hope that the SAFE Network will be an overly positive thing).
Phew - I hate posts this long, but this is what you get when you can only communicate with words. So, to trace back to the very first line of my original post, I am not enthusiastic about this proposal because it is based on a template management model that is in somewhat direct contradiction to some of the very values that I personally favor, but that I sort of expected would be prevalent in a community like this as well; values I would hope to support and encourage. I in no way am projecting that this means I speak for other people. My opinions and feedback are mine and mine alone.
I will close with one last point. If this post had been @whiteoutmashups proposing that he was interested in starting a Silicon Valley-esque venture capital fund he wanted to manage to invest in SAFE network projects (tiny apps or otherwise), then I would not be here, and I would not have commented at all. Free universe - I am not here to try and censure other people's individual initiative. This is being promoted as a community initiative. If there is a small sore spot here for me, it is that what is proposed doesn't seem to align well with how I view the community or how I personally hope community collaborations might function.
P.S. - Ok - one more thing. I referenced the open collective model (among others) because I believe it has a lot of virtue. There are open collectives that involve tiny budgets for things like just covering the costs of holding a monthly meetup ($60 for pizza and venue). Sponsors are not compensated for their contributions, they make them to help sustain an activity they think has value. Transparency is just a way of ensuring a governance model so they know the money they are providing is being spent appropriately. Not everything in our economy has to be gamified - where one group of people compete to provide reward for others. Collaboration and goodwill have a place too.