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Having cows - Some short essays in political philosophy

by David Raymond, Opinion editor emeritus

One’s political philosophy can be determined by one’s attitude towards one’s possessions. Or is it the other way around? Consider these cases of bovine ownership and decide for yourself.

You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.
You feel guilty for being successful.
You vote people into office who put a tax on your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax.
The people you voted for then take the tax money, buy a cow and give it to your neighbor. You feel righteous. Barbara Streisand sings for you.

You have two cows.
The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.
You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.

You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.

American style: post 9/11:
You have two cows.
You are required to milk your cows in accordance to a government-mandated, five-color system designed to safeguard your security.
Your cows, being color blind, do not understand why they are not being milked regularly and complain loudly.
The government seizes one of your cows for being “unpatriotic” and sends it to a detention center.
The second cow gets the message and remains silent and complacent.
All is well.

You have two cows.
The government seizes both and provides you with milk.
You wait in line for hours to get it.
It is expensive and sour.
Capitalism, American style:
You have two cows.
You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

Capitalism, American style, post Sept. 11
You have two cows.
You claim that neither will give milk due to the stress caused by terrorists.
The government gives you money to buy more cows.
Instead of buying cows, you spend the money on expensive foreign cars and a luxury farmhouse.
You are arrested and hide your face from photographers.
You are tried and sentenced to five years probation and 200 hours community service that includes donating your cows’ milk to local schools.
You claim that your cows will not give milk due to terrorism-induced stress.
The government gives you money that you now use to invest in the stock market, increasing the profits of other government-supported cow owners.
You are considered loyal and patriotic, and you receive a tax refund so you can buy more stocks.
All the while, the cows are waiting to be milked.

Democracy, American style:
You have two cows.
The government taxes you to the point at which you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.
Bureaucracy, American style:
You have two cows.
The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, and then pours the milk down the drain.

Corporate style: American
You have two cows.
You sell one, lease it back to yourself, and do an IPO on the second one.
You force the two cows to produce the milk of four.
You are surprised when one cow drops dead.
You spin an announcement to the analysts stating thatyou have downsized and are reducing expenses.
Your stock goes up.

Corporate style: French
You have two cows.
You go on strike because you want three cows.
You go to lunch.
Life is good.

Corporate style: Japanese
You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce 20 times the milk.
They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains.
They are regularly at the top of their class at cow school.

Corporate style: German
You have two cows.
You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, and run 100 miles an hour.
They also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.
Corporate style: Italian
You have two cows but don’t know where they are.
While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman.
You break for lunch.
Life is good.

Corporate style: Russian
You have two cows.
After drinking vodka, you count them and learn you have five cows.
You have some more vodka.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
You count them again and learn you have 12 cows.
You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.
The mob shows up and takes your cows.

Corporate style: (insert ethnicity)
You have two bulls.
Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.

Election style: Florida
You have a black cow and a brown cow.
Everyone votes for the best looking one.
Some like the brown one best, but vote for the black.
Some people vote for both.
Some people vote for neither.
Some people can’t figure out how to vote.
The governor prevents 60,000 people from voting.
Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which is the best-looking cow.

Election style: New York
You have fifteen million local cows.
You have to choose which one will be the leader of the herd, so you pick one from Arkansas.


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