Ever been taught the “two cows” lesson? Like me if you were at sometime part of a classroom scenario where your teacher began her introduction to economics with the sentence “Imagine you are a farmer who owns two cows…”, you would have been laughing away by the end of the class. Yet at the same time you would never forget that simple, humorous insight you got into understanding complex concepts of economic, political and even cultural systems of the world. The “two cows” parody where the cows are used as a metaphor for all currency, capital and property has now become a time-honoured joke used to point out the absurdities of some “-isms” as also to mockingly exaggerate how systems work in different cultures. Here is a collection of some of my favourites~
First the classic ones (with further extensions in brackets)~
~Capitalism:You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. (Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.)
~Socialism :You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbour. (He has no land to keep the cow in)
~Nazism :You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you. (And the cows are killed in the war)
~Fascism :You have two cows. You give them to the government, and the government then sells you some milk. (Then the cows die in the War)
~Communism: You have two cows. You give them to the government, and the government then gives you some milk. (Then the cows die due to neglect)
And then some brilliant minds came up with these modern interpretations. As stereotypes they definitely need to be treated with caution but are good for a few chuckles nonetheless!!
~ American economy: You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has dropped dead.
~ French Economy: You have two cows. You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.
~ British economy: You have two cows. You discover both are mad.
~ German Economy : You have two cows. You re-engineer them so they live for a hundred years, eat once a month and milk themselves.(Now that’s exaggeration for you, even if it involves German engineering!!)
~ Italian economy: You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are. You decide to have lunch anyway!
~ Swiss economy: You have not two but five thousand cows. None of them belong to you. You charge the owners for storing them.
~ Russian economy: You have two cows. You count them and learn that you have five cows. You count them again and learn that you have forty two cows. You count them again and learn that you have two cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of Vodka.
~Japanese economy: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow, and produce the milk of twenty cows. You then create a clever cow-cartoon-image called ‘Cowkimon’ and market it worldwide.
~ Chinese economy: You have two cows. You have three hundred people milking them. You claim that you have full employment and high bovine productivity. You arrest the newsman who reports the real situation.
~ Indian economy: You have two cows. You worship one, sell the other to buy a computer and set up a consultancy for the American
~ Iraqi economy: Everyone thinks you have lots of cows. You tell them that you have none. Nobody believes you, so they bomb the crap out of you and invade your country. You still have no cows but at least you are now a Democracy.
~ Australian economy: You have two cows. Business seems pretty good. You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate
And the topical one for the last
~ Greek economy: You have two cows borrowed from French and German banks. You eat both of them. The banks call to collect their milk, but you cannot deliver so you call the IMF. The IMF loans you two cows. You eat both of them. The banks and the IMF call to collect their cows/milk. You are out getting a haircut. Meanwhile everyone else is figuring out the solution to your problem…