A Short Guide to Comparative Government

Editorial Note

Versions of this page have been circulating for some time. This arrived from the late Peter McWilliams and has been somewhat modified.

FeudalismYou have two cows. Your landlord takes most of the milk.
Fascism, MilitaristicYou have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you.
Fascism, KleptocraticYou have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.
Nigerian DemocracyYou have two cows. The government takes both, shoots you, and sends the cows to Zurich.
SocialismYou have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.
Communism, UtopianYou have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.
Communism, LeninismYou have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.
Communism, Stalinism/MaoismYou have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned.
Pure DemocracyYou have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the milk.
Representative DemocracyYou have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.
Singaporean DemocracyYou have two cows. The government fines you for keeping two unlicensed farm animals in an apartment.
American DemocracyPoliticians promise to give you two cows if you elect them. After you do, they redefine who qualifies for the cows so that only a select group of campaign contributors qualify. Animal rights activists file a class action suit against you, on behalf of the cows, for breach of contract, while the milk price support floor is raised so astronomically that you switch to Coke.
British DemocracyYou have two cows. You feed them sheep's brains and they go mad. The government does nothing.
European DemocracyYou 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 cows.
Laissez-Faire CapitalismYou have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.
New World Order CapitalismYou have two cows. A multi-national company invests in them, buys the milk cheaply, and exports it to another country for processing. You have to buy imported yogurt at an inflated price because the dairy industry lobby and the dairy workers union have pushed through protective tariffs.
Hong Kong CapitalismYou have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly-listed company, using letters of credit at the bank opened by your brother-in-law, then execute a debt/equity swap with an 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 Islands company secretely 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 of bad feng shui.
Political CorrectnessYou are associated with (the concept of "ownership" is a symbol of the phallocentric, warmongering, intolerant past) two differently aged (but no less valuable to society) bovines of non-specified gender.
Saudi ArabiaYou have two cows. You ignore them because you use your oil money to buy two girls kidnapped off the streets of London.
CountercultureWow, dude, there's like...these two cows, man. You have got to have some of this milk.
SurrealismYou have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

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Copyright (c) 2000 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved