Cows, Geopolitics, and Big Business
Confused about the difference between socialism, Communism, and the politics
of huge corporations? This basic dictionary may help.
Feudalism: You have two cows. The lord of the manor takes some of the
milk. And all the cream.
Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in
a barn with everyone else’s cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The
government gives you as much milk as you need.
Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes one of your cows
and gives it to your neighbor. You’re both forced to join a cooperative where
you have to teach your neighbor how to take care of his cow.
Bureaucratic Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes them
and puts them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken
farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the
chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and as many eggs as its
regulations say you should need.
Fascism: You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to
take care of them, and sells you the milk.
Pure Communism: You have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care
of them, and you all share the milk.
Russian Communism: You have two cows. You have to take care of them,
but the government takes all the milk.
Communism: You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides
you with milk. You wait in line for you share of the milk, but it’s so long
that the milk is sour by the time you get it.
Dictatorship: You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots
Militarism: You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts
Pure Democracy: You have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the
Representative Democracy: You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone
to tell you who gets the milk.
Democracy: The government promises to give you two cows if you vote for
it. After the election, the president is impeached for speculating in cow futures.
The press dubs the affair “Cowgate.” The cows are set free.
Democracy, Democrat-style: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none.
You feel guilty for being so successful. You vote politicians into office who
tax your cows, which forces you to sell one to pay the tax. The politicians
use the tax money to buy a cow for your neighbor. You feel good. Barbra Streisand
sings for you.
Democracy, Republican-style: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none.
You move to a better neighborhood.
Indian Democracy: You have two cows. You worship them.
British Democracy: You have two cows. You feed them sheep brains and
they go mad. The government gives you compensation for your diseased cows, compensation
for your lost income, and a grant not to use your fields for anything else.
And tells the public not to worry.
Bureaucracy: You have two cows. At first the government regulates what
you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them.
After that it takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and pours the milk down
the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing
Anarchy: You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price
or your neighbors try to kill you and take the cows.
Capitalism: You have two cows. You lay one off, and force the other
to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when she drops dead.
Singaporean Democracy: You have two cows. The government fines you for
keeping two unlicensed farm animals in an apartment.
Hong Kong Capitalism (alias Enron Capitalism):
You have two cows.
You sell three of them to your publicly-listed company,
using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute
an debt/equity swap with associated general offer so that you get all four cows
back, with a tax deduction for keeping five cows.
The milk rights of six cows are transferred via a Panamanian
intermediary to a Cayman Isands company secretly owned by the majority shareholder,
who sells the rights to all seven cows’ milk back to the listed company.
The annual report says that the company owns eight cows,
with an option on one more.
Meanwhile, you kill the two cows because the Feng Shui
Environmentalism: You have two cows. The government bans you from milking
or killing them.
Totalitarianism: You have two cows. The government takes them and denies
they ever existed. Milk is banned.
Foreign Policy, American-Style: You have two cows. The government taxes
them and uses the money to buy a cow for a poor farmer a country ruled by a
dictator. The farmer has no hay to feed the cow and his religion forbids him
from eating it. The cow dies. The man dies. The dictator confiscates the dead
man’s farm and sells it, using the money to purchase US military equipment.
The President declares the program a success and announces closer ties with
our new ally.
Bureaucracy, American-Style: You have two cows but you have to kill
one of them because the government will only give you a license for one of them.
The license requires you to sell all your milk to the government, which uses
it to make cheese. The government pays lots of money to store the cheese in
refrigerated warehouses. When the cheese spoils, the government distributes
it to the poor. The poor get sick from the cheese, go to the emergency room,
and are turned away because they have no health insurance. The President declares
the program a success and reminds us that we have the finest health care system
in the world.
American Corporation: You have two cows. You sell one to a subsidiary
company and lease it back to yourself so you can declare it as a tax loss. Your
bosses give you a huge bonus. You inject the cows with drugs and they produce
four times the normal amount of milk. Your bosses give you a huge bonus. When
the drugs cause one of the cows to drop dead you announce to the press that
you have down-sized, reducing expenses by 50 percent. The company stock goes
up and your bosses give you a huge bonus. You lay off all your workers and move
your production facilities to Mexico. You get a huge bonus. You contribute some
of your profit to the President’s re-election campaign. The President announces
tax cuts for corporations in order to stimulate the economy.
Japanese Corporation: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are
one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You
teach the cows to travel on unbelievably crowded trains. Your cows always get
higher test scores than cows in the U.S. or Europe, but they drink a lot of
German Corporation: You have two cows. You engineer them so they are
all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent milk, and run a hundred miles
an hour. Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year and are
very expensive to repair.
Russian Corporation: You have two cows. You have some vodka. You count
your cows and discover you really have five cows! You have more vodka. You count
them again and discover you have 42 cows! You stop counting cows and have some
more vodka. The Russian Mafia arrives and takes over all your cows. You have
Italian Corporation: You have two cows but you can’t find them. While
searching for them you meet a beautiful woman, take her out to lunch and then
make love to her. Life is good.
French Corporation: You have two cows. You go on strike because you
want another cow, more vacation and shorter work weeks. The French government
announces that it will never agree to your demands. You go to lunch and eat
fabulous food and drink wonderful wine. While you are at lunch, the airline
pilots and flight controllers join your strike, shutting down all air traffic.
The truckers block all the roads and the dock workers block all the ports. By
dinner time the French government announces it agrees with all your demands.
Life is good.
Correctness: You are associated with (the concept of “ownership”
is an outdated symbol of your decadent, warmongering, intolerant past) two differently-aged
(but no less valuable to society) bovines of non-specified gender. They get
married and adopt a calf.
Counterculturalism: Wow, dude, there’s like . . . these two
cows, man. You have got to have some of this milk.
Surrealism: You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take
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