Cow Economics, updated for 2018 – Altoona Mirror

There has been some discussion about the role that socialism might play, if any, in American political and economic life.

Bernie Sanders is a staunch advocate for making Medicare-for-all the national health system. That means that all doctors’ bills would be paid, in some form and proportion, by the Treasury Department in Washington. This would be socialized medicine, as practiced in Britain and Scandinavian countries.

Social Security, from its very beginning in 1935, is another hot-button issue that some politicians contend is a socialistic model in need of reform, the sooner the better. These are complicated issues.

As a public service, this column will now try to inform and educate those of you readers who want to be more knowledgeable about the various economic systems that are currently in the news. I will draw on my own experience as a reluctant and befuddled college economics instructor.

Years ago, I was on the faculty of the American College in London, teaching journalism and political science. The instructor slated to teach introductory economics became ill and an emergency substitute was needed. I had a diploma from the London School of Economics and was asked to fill in. But, the actual title of that institution is “The London School of Economics and Political Science.” My degree was in Poli-Sci, but I agreed to fill the teaching vacancy, by staying one chapter ahead of the students in the textbook.

While preparing lesson plans, I stumbled upon explanations of the various economic systems that my students found humorous and instructive. They were called “Cow Economics” and, updated, might be relatable to the many people in our circulation area who are associated with dairy farming.

Socialism: A farmer with two cows would be allowed to keep one, but would have to give the other to a neighbor.

Capitalism: He could sell one of his two cows and with the proceeds buy a bull.

Fascism: He gives two cows to the government and it then sells him some milk.

Communism: He gives the cows to the government and it then gives him some milk.

Here is how, tongue-in-cheek, the economies in some countries operate.

Germany: You have two cows that are engineered so that 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 time.

Italy: You have two cows but don’t know where they are. While looking for them you see a beautiful girl who agrees to join you for dinner. You forget the cows. Life is good.

American Liberal: You have two cows, your neighbor has none. You experience guilt for being so successful. You offer milk to the neighbor at a cut-rate price. You feel righteous. Nancy Pelosi sends you a letter of congratulations.

American Conservative: You have two cows, your neighbor has none. SO WHAT? TOUGH LUCK! Rush Limbaugh praises your attitude and instructs Mr. Snerdley to give priority to your telephone calls.

James Wentz writes a monthly column for the Mirror.

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