April 6. Into Paraguay.

An idea: economy of participation. Imagine a grocery store. Every person that participates in the store either as customer or as a worker gets a share of its stock. The more goods and services people buy, the more stock they get. The harder people work, the more stock they get. Hence, the store is owned by its operators and customers. So you can earn your money from it regardless if you work there or buy things. Who would work there? Well, of course the stock share of an employee would be significantly higher. Remains the question: who would want to be responsible for the whole operation? Answer: there is an untransferable leverage stock base owned by a small group who is in charge of the store. The neat thing about this, is that the size of this stock can be estimated from experience. To put it bluntly, the capitalistic tiger that has to roar is tamed by the socialist racoons that work in the shade. Now this store could work if people are either enthousiastic about it or feel their advantage. But can a whole economy work like that? Wouldn’t the risk of free-riders be way too high and conversely the amount of savvy entrepreneurs too low? Could such an economy be inventive, upbeat, forward-striding? That remains to be seen.-

In the morning I checked out the Marco Polo-hostel with the pool and the provisional cocktail bar, and walked to the bus station. After about half on hour a bus brought me to Paraguay. Met a couple of German/Swiss guys in it. Ciudad del Este. People come here to buy electronics because it’s very cheap. The town is laid out on a perfect grid and they provide maps with the many stores where people from the richer neighbouring countries go shopping. Sunglasses, cambio, cigarettes sold on the street for a dollar less than elsewhere, minivans crammed with people claxoning their way through traffic, hot grey shivering air and construction sites, policemen in clean uniforms, horses, dogs, fruit carts pushed by tanned middle-aged men. We went to the bus terminal and got the bus straight to Asuncion. Another five hours through the Paraguay countryside. I enjoyed the beautiful landscape and the small dilapidated houses. There is a Taiwan techical mission here. People seem very tranquillo, living their lives without the longing for progress, development. I saw cows everywhere. Cars for sale priced in dollars, people ploughing the land with oxen, piled up car engines, brown earth, old women sitting in a porch and two chicks walking in front of them. Little girls playing.
After rolling through the city of Asuncion for ages, we arrived at the bus station, from where we took a taxi to a pension. A friendly old lady offered us a room in a colonial style house with some neoclassicist columns and ceiling fans.

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