What is the Political Cow?

What does the Political Cow mean? In short, the traditional Political Cow has been used as an economics metaphor to illustrate various forms of government.  Searching Google, you’ll find (in addition to this site) many other instances that reference this basic economics depiction, referencing two cows.  There’s even a Wikipedia reference regarding the metaphor.

Here is a listing of some of our favorite’s of the the Political Cow analogy (there are actually many examples):

Feudalism: You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.

Socialist: 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.

A French Corporation: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

An Italian Corporation: You have two cows, but they are both missing. You break for lunch.

Bureaucracy: 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 the regulations say you should need.

Communist: You have two cows. The government takes them, and gives you some of the milk.

Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull and get rich with your herd of cows.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS: You 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.

And the list goes on from there.  The entire analogy has taken on a life of it’s own with many new examples of economic systems, and general political humor using the early 20th century metaphor.

Aside from the general humor associated with the analogy, it also serves to simplify what is often a complicated discussion.