Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Two Cows ...

These are collected from various sources and do not represent the opinions of TheCapitol.Net. Many were contributed by visitors to a personal website 1995-1999, although others have been sent more recently and posted on Hobnob Blog. Also see "World's smartest cow - what if there were 2 of them?"

AIG IMPLODES: Two cows version

ALEXANDER POPE-ISM: To err is human, to forgive bovine. (from Patrick)

ANARCHISM: You have two cows. The cows decide you have no right to do anything with their milk and leave to form their own society.

ANARCHISM: You have two cows. You steal your neighbor's bull and ignore the government.

ANARCHISM: You have two cows. You keep the cows and steal another one. You ignore the government.

ANARCHISM: You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbors try to take the cows and kill you.

ANARCHISM: You have two cows. Your neighbor hits you over the head with a brick, steals your cows, then shoots them for fun. You later discover that he is a Nazi.

ARISTOCRATISM: You have two cows. You sell both and buy one really big cow - with a pedigree.

ARTIST -- VISUAL: You have two cows. You stuff them and put them in glass display boxes. In London.

AUSTRALIANISM: You have two cows. You take one to the beach and teach it to surf, then you bung the other one on the barbie, drink some VB, and laugh at the idea of a surfing cow. (from Hannah and Gen)

BAHRAINISM: You have two cows. Some high government official steals one, milks it, sells the milk and pockets the profit. The government tells you there is just one cow and not enough milk for the people. The people riot and scream death to the government and carry Iranian flags. The Parliament, after thinking for 11 months, decides to employ ten Bahrainis to milk all the cows at the same time to cut back on unemployment.

BITCHISM: You're a cow! (from Hannah and Gen)

BRITISH: You have two cows. They are crazy. You try to sell them in Europe.

BRITISH -- MAJOR: You have two cows. One has BSE. You get a vet to give the other one the all clear, and then declare there is no problem from BSE in your country.

BUREAUCRACY: You 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. Then 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.

BUREAUCRACY: You have two cows. To register them, you fill in 17 forms in triplicate and don't have time to milk them.

BUREAUCRACY -- EUROPEAN UNION: You have two cows. The EU loses one cow, milks the other and then spills the milk.

BUREAUCRACY -- UNITED STATES: You have two cows. The government takes both, loses one while moving it to a farm in Puerto Rico and forgets to milk the other.

CANADIANISM: You have two cows. The bank takes both of them, shoots one, throws away the milk and you shoot yourself.

CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

CAPITALISM -- AMERICAN: You have two cows. You sell one of them, and buy a bull. The cow and bull have a great love life; you sell the movie rights to Hollywood. Then you go into real estate.

CAPITALISM -- HONG KONG You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt / equity swap with 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 secretly 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 the feng shui is bad.

CENTRALISM: You have two cows. And a problem finding them in the middle of the field with 100,000,000 other cows.

CONSERVATIVISM: You have two cows. You freeze the milk and embalm the cows.

CONSERVATIVISM: You have two cows. You lock them up, and charge people to look at them.

COMMUNISM: You have two cows. The government takes both of them and gives you part of the milk.

COMMUNISM: You have two cows. The government takes both cows. The government sells the milk in government stores. You can't afford the milk. You wither away.

COMMUNISM: You have two cows. The state takes both, and gives you a little milk ... once.

COMMUNISM: You have two cows. The government takes both and gives you spoiled milk.

COMMUNISM -- CAMBODIAN: You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.

COMMUNISM -- CAMBODIAN: You have two cows. The government sends a teenager in a red bandana to shoot them, then he shoots you.

COMMUNISM -- CHINESE: You don't have any cows. The government sets up a joint venture with McDonald's.

COMMUNISM -- CHINESE: You have two cows. You take care of them. The government takes all the milk, but you are encouraged to steal some of it back (before someone else does).

COMMUNISM -- CHINESE - MAO STYLE: You have two pigs. The government launches a campaign to convince you to donate them "voluntarily" to provide meat for workers in the city. The government then declares that people don't need pigs to make pork. Quoting the correct phrases from your little red book, you and your neighbors try to create pork from sheer willpower. Your local party leader reports that you have exceeded all expectations. Your neighbors starve.

COMMUNISM -- CUBAN - CASTRO STYLE: Fidel Castro has two cows. They are F1's, a cross between the Cebu cow and the Holstein cow. Only one cow, "White Udder," works. When she dies she is stuffed and placed in a museum by Castro, "The Dictator of the Cows," where "future generations could admire her magnificent udders." You have not seen cow milk since 1985.

COMMUNISM -- CUBAN: You have two cows. Fidel tells you some undercover CIA agents have infected all of the cows in your region with a foreign disease that kills the cows. You and your family become malnourished. It begins to occur to you that Fidel doesn't know what he is talking about.

COMMUNISM -- CUBAN: You no longer have any cows. They sailed to Miami. You still have no milk - but you do have Fidel.

COMMUNISM -- "PURE": You have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.

COMMUNISM -- "PURE": You have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk. Well, maybe the local bully gets more, or a few neighbors band together to kill you so that there is more milk for everyone else.

COMMUNISM -- SOVIET: You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk. Then the government sends you to prison.

COMMUNISM -- SOVIET: You have two cows. You count them and realize you have four cows. You drink more Vodka. You count the cows again and realize you have eleventy six cows. You drink even more Vodka. After a while, you realize that eleventy isn't a real number. You count the cows again and have two cows. You open another bottle of Vodka and try to drown the loss of eleventy four cows.

DARWINISM: You have two cows. They develop opposable thumbs and milk you. (from Patrick)

DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the milk.

DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. A vote is held, and the cows win.

DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. They outvote you 2-1 to ban all meat and dairy products. You go bankrupt.

DEMOCRACY -- AMERICAN: You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk and then blame Japan while border guards beat up Mexicans sneaking into the country. People are outraged for a week or so and then go back to televised sports where there's no violence.

DEMOCRACY -- AMERICAN (a republic): You have two cows. The government exercises those powers delegated to it by the people, who are sovereign. The majority does not rule because the people and their representatives (elected, appointed and employed) are constrained by various checks and balances, including the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the three co-equal branches of government, and the 50 state republics (see, e.g., Article IV, section 4). So what the government does with your cows and with the milk from those cows depends on the interaction between the people and the checks and balances mentioned above.

DEMOCRACY -- BRITISH: You have two cows. You feed them sheep's brains and they go mad. The government doesn't do anything.

DEMOCRACY -- REPRESENTATIVE: You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.

DICTATORSHIP: You have two cows. The government takes both cows and drafts you.

DRMISM: You have two cows. You sell both of them, but all the milk still belongs to you.

DUBAISM: You have two cows. You create a website for them and advertise them in all magazines. You create a Cow City or Milk Town for them. You sell off their milk before the cows have even been milked to both legitimate and shady investors who hope to resell the non-existent milk for a 100% profit in two years' time. You bring Tiger Woods to milk the cows first to attract attention.

EGYPTIANISM: You have two cows. Both are voting for Moooooobarak!

EUROPEAN UNIONISM: You have two goats. The EU declares them to be fruit in order to conform to a rare Belgian custom of making Cow Jam (jam being required to have at least 45% fruit).

EUROPEAN UNIONISM: You have two cows. The EU develops a quota system that "limits the gas emissions from flatulent cows." You sell your carbon allotment, not the milk.

FASCISM: You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.

FASCISM: You have two cows. You give the milk to the government and the government sells it.

FASCISM: You have two cows. The government takes one away and presses it into military service.

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

FRISBEETARIANISM: You have two cows. One of them flies up on the roof and gets stuck. You hope the government provides cow ladders.

IDEALISM: You have two cows. You get married and your partner milks them.

INDUSTRIALISM: You have two cows. You dissect them both and figure out how to build a milk-factory instead.

INNOVATIONISM: You have two cows. You patent "cow" and claim license fees from all the milk of the world. ("All your milk are belong to us.")

IRAQISM: The British Government sends in a herd of 20 cows in a trial run to help a village outside Basra. The villagers are extremely grateful for the extra milk and the health of the children improves daily. A terrorist group then kidnaps the cows and accuses them of being traitors to "the cause." The terrorists then produce signed confessions from the cows and systematically assassinates each one in front of Al Jazeera television cameras.

KUWAITISM: Upon hearing how popular cows are in the Gulf region, a group of young male Kuwaitis buy a herd. Unfortunately, they attach so many accessories (ski-racks, 3500 watt sub-woofers, nipple lights, etc.) that the cows almost collapse under the weight and/or embarrassment. The herd are all tragically killed in a massive pile-up while their owners are attempting to perform donuts by the Towers.

LEBANONISM: You have two cows. One is owned by Syria and the other is controlled by the government.

LIBERALISM: You have two cows. You sell both to the rich. The government then taxes the rich one cow and gives it to the poor.

LIBERALISM: You have two cows. You give away one cow and get the government to give you a new cow. Then you give them both away.

LIBERTARIANISM: You have two cows. You let them do what they want.

LIBERTARIANISM: Go away. What I do with my cows is none of your business.

MARXISM/LENINISM: The proletarian cows unite and overthrow the bourgeoisie cowherds. The egalitarian democratic cow revolutionary state with the cow party as vanguard disintegrate over time. Marx choked on a veggie-burger before he could explain what happens to the use-value, exchange-value and sign-value of bovine leather.

NAZISM: You have two cows. The government takes both and then shoots you.

NEW DEALISM: You have two cows. The government takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and pours the milk down the sink. The government insists there is a giant storage tank where all the milk goes.

OMANISM: You have three cows. They are all healthy and produce good quality milk for sale at the market. Unfortunately, your son discovers that the money he received at the market can be used to buy beer. Your grand expansion plans for a new high-tech farm are put on hold indefinitely.

PACIFISM: You have two cows. They stampede you.

PEROTISM: You have two cows. You aren't allowed to sell the milk to Mexico.

PLATONISM: You have two cows. You look for two other cows to milk.

PLATONISM: You have a reflection of two perfect cows. Their milk tastes like water. You look for two real cows to milk.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESSISM: 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 nonspecified gender.

PROTECTIONISM: You have two cows. You can't buy a bull from another country.

QATARISM: You have two cows. They've been sitting there for decades and no one realizes that cows can produce milk. You see what Dubai is doing, you go crazy and start milking the heck out of the cows in the shortest time possible. Then you realize no one wanted the milk in the first place.

REDISTRIBUTIONISM: You have two cows. Everyone should have the same amount of cow. The government takes both cows, cuts them up, and spends more than the cows are worth giving everyone a little piece of cow.

SAUDIISM: You have two cows. Since milking the cow involves nipples, the government decides to ban all cows in public. The only method to milk a cow is to have a cow on one side of a curtain and a guy milking the cow on the other side.

SIMPSONISM: Don't have a cow man!

SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes one of them and gives it to your neighbor.

SOCIALISM -- BUREAUCRATIC: 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 eggs as the regulations say you should need.

SOCIALISM -- PURE: 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.

SOCRATIC METHODISM: How many cows do I have? Why?

SURREALISM: You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

SURREALISM: You have two aardvarks. The government paints one green and requires you to take harmonica lessons.

TALIBANISM: You have two cows. At first, the government makes them wear burkas, but later shoots them because "they are Hindu religious symbols."

UNITED NATIONISM: You have two cows. France vetoes you from milking them. The United States and Britain veto the cows from milking you. New Zealand abstains.

WIKIPEDIANISM: These cows are temporarily protected from milking. Please resolve disputes on the talk page. Protection is not intended to express support of German or Polish cows. (from Bill)

WIKIPEDIANISM: This cow is a heifer. You can help Wikipedia by milking it. (from Bill)

YEMENISM: You once had a cow. But then it got kidnapped.

The GOP's Misplaced Rage

In the August 12, 2009 Daily Beast editorial "The GOP's Misplaced Rage," "leading conservative economist Bruce Bartlett writes that the Obama-hating town-hall mobs have it wrong—the person they should be angry with left the White House seven months ago."
Where is the evidence that everything would be better if Republicans were in charge? Does anyone believe the economy would be growing faster or that unemployment would be lower today if John McCain had won the election? I know of no economist who holds that view. The economy is like an ocean liner that turns only very slowly. The gross domestic product and the level of employment would be pretty much the same today under any conceivable set of policies enacted since Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Until conservatives once again hold Republicans to the same standard they hold Democrats, they will have no credibility and deserve no respect.

In January, the Congressional Budget Office projected a deficit this year of $1.2 trillion before Obama took office, with no estimate for actions he might take. To a large extent, the CBO’s estimate simply represented the $482 billion deficit projected by the Bush administration in last summer’s budget review, plus the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, which George W. Bush rammed through Congress in September over strenuous conservative objections. Thus the vast bulk of this year’s currently estimated $1.8 trillion deficit was determined by Bush’s policies, not Obama’s.

I think conservative anger is misplaced. To a large extent, Obama is only cleaning up messes created by Bush. This is not to say Obama hasn’t made mistakes himself, but even they can be blamed on Bush insofar as Bush’s incompetence led to the election of a Democrat. If he had done half as good a job as most Republicans have talked themselves into believing he did, McCain would have won easily.

Conservative protesters should remember that the recession, which led to so many of the policies they oppose, is almost entirely the result of Bush’s policies. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession began in December 2007—long before Obama was even nominated. And the previous recession ended in November 2001, so the current recession cannot be blamed on cyclical forces that Bush inherited.

Indeed, Bush’s responsibility for the recession is implicit in every conservative analysis of its origins. The most thorough has been done by John Taylor, a respected economist from Stanford University who served during most of the Bush administration as the No. 3 official at the Treasury Department. In his book, Getting Off Track, he puts most of the blame on the Federal Reserve for holding interest rates down too low for too long.

While the Fed does bear much responsibility for sowing the seeds of recession, it’s commonly treated as an institution independent of politics and even the government itself. But the Federal Reserve Board consists of governors appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

Because the president appoints the board, he has primary influence over its policies. This is especially the case for chairmen of the Fed appointed by Republicans because they often have ties to Republican administrations. Chairman Ben Bernanke was originally appointed as a member of the Fed in 2002, serving until 2005, when he became chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the White House, a position that made him Bush’s chief economic adviser.

As early as 2002, a majority of the seven-member Federal Reserve Board was Bush appointees, and by 2006 every member was a Bush appointee. While many critical decisions about monetary policy are made by the Federal Open Market Committee, the board’s position always prevails.

The Treasury secretary also has had breakfast with the Fed chairman on a weekly basis for decades. Consequently, most economists generally believe that every administration ultimately gets the Fed policy it wants. Therefore, one must conclude that if there were errors in Fed policy that caused the current downturn, it must be because the Fed was doing what the Bush administration wanted it to do.

To the extent that there were mistakes in housing policy that contributed to the recession, those were necessarily committed by Bush political appointees at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other agencies. To the extent that banks and other financial institutions made mistakes or engaged in fraudulent activity, it was either overlooked or sanctioned by Bush appointees at the Securities & Exchange Commission, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and elsewhere.

But in a larger sense, the extremely poor economic performance of the Bush years really set the stage for the current recession. This is apparent when we compare Bush’s two terms to Bill Clinton’s eight years. Since both took office close to a business cycle trough and left office close to a cyclical peak, this is a reasonable comparison.

Throughout the Bush years, many conservative economists, including CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, extravagantly extolled Bush’s economic policies. As late as December 21, 2007, after the recession already began, he wrote in National Review: “the Goldilocks economy is outperforming all expectations.” In a column on May 2, 2008, almost six months into the recession, Kudlow praised Bush for having prevented a recession.

But the truth was always that the economy performed very, very badly under Bush, and the best efforts of his cheerleaders cannot change that fact because the data don’t lie. Consider these comparisons between Bush and Clinton:

• Between the fourth quarter of 1992 and the fourth quarter of 2000, real GDP grew 34.7 percent. Between the fourth quarter of 2000 and the fourth quarter of 2008, it grew 15.9 percent, less than half as much.

• Between the fourth quarter of 1992 and the fourth quarter of 2000, real gross private domestic investment almost doubled. By the fourth quarter of 2008, real investment was 6.5 percent lower than it was when Bush was elected.

• Between December 1992 and December 2000, payroll employment increased by more than 23 million jobs, an increase of 21.1 percent. Between December 2000 and December 2008, it rose by a little more than 2.5 million, an increase of 1.9 percent. In short, about 10 percent as many jobs were created on Bush’s watch as were created on Clinton’s.

• During the Bush years, conservative economists often dismissed the dismal performance of the economy by pointing to a rising stock market. But the stock market was lackluster during the Bush years, especially compared to the previous eight. Between December 1992 and December 2000, the S&P 500 Index more than doubled. Between December 2000 and December 2008, it fell 34 percent. People would have been better off putting all their investments into cash under a mattress the day Bush took office.

• Finally, conservatives have an absurdly unjustified view that Republicans have a better record on federal finances. It is well-known that Clinton left office with a budget surplus and Bush left with the largest deficit in history. Less well-known is Clinton’s cutting of spending on his watch, reducing federal outlays from 22.1 percent of GDP to 18.4 percent of GDP. Bush, by contrast, increased spending to 20.9 percent of GDP. Clinton abolished a federal entitlement program, Welfare, for the first time in American history, while Bush established a new one for prescription drugs.

Conservatives delude themselves that the Bush tax cuts worked and that the best medicine for America’s economic woes is more tax cuts; at a minimum, any tax increase would be economic poison. They forget that Ronald Reagan worked hard to pass one of the largest tax increases in American history in September 1982, the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act, even though the nation was still in a recession that didn’t end until November of that year. Indeed, one could easily argue that the enactment of that legislation was a critical prerequisite to recovery because it led to a decline in interest rates. The same could be said of Clinton’s 1993 tax increase, which many conservatives predicted would cause a recession but led to one of the biggest economic booms in history.

According to the CBO, federal taxes will amount to just 15.5 percent of GDP this year. That’s 2.2 percent of GDP less than last year, 3.3 percent less than in 2007, and 1.8 percent less than the lowest percentage recorded during the Reagan years. If conservatives really believe their own rhetoric, they should be congratulating Obama for being one of the greatest tax cutters in history.

Conservatives will respond that some tax cuts are good while others are not. Determining which is which is based on something called supply-side economics. Because I was among those who developed it, I think I can speak authoritatively on the subject. According to the supply-side view, temporary tax cuts and tax credits are economically valueless. Only permanent cuts in marginal tax rates will significantly raise growth.

On this basis, we see that Bush’s tax cuts were pretty much the opposite of what supply-side economics would recommend. The vast bulk of his tax cuts involved tax rebates—which failed in 2001 and again in 2008, because the vast bulk of the money was saved—or tax credits that had no incentive effects. While marginal rates were cut slightly—the top rate fell from 39.6 percent to 35 percent—it was phased in slowly and never made permanent. Neither were Bush’s cuts in capital gains and dividend taxes.

I could go on to discuss other Bush mistakes that had negative economic consequences, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which imposed a massive regulatory burden on corporations without doing anything to prevent corporate misconduct, and starting unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which will burden the economy for decades to come in the form of veterans’ benefits.

But there is yet another dimension to Bush’s failures—the things he didn’t do. In this category I would put a health-care overhaul. Budget experts have known for years that Medicare was on an unsustainable financial path. It is impossible to pay all the benefits that have been promised because spending has been rising faster than GDP.
In 2003, the Bush administration repeatedly lied about the cost of the drug benefit to get it passed, and Bush himself heavily pressured reluctant conservatives to vote for the program.
Because reforming Medicare is an important part of getting health costs under control generally, Bush could have used the opportunity to develop a comprehensive health-reform plan. By not doing so, he left his party with nothing to offer as an alternative to the Obama plan. Instead, Republicans have opposed Obama's initiative while proposing nothing themselves.
In my opinion, conservative activists, who seem to believe that the louder they shout the more correct their beliefs must be, are less angry about Obama’s policies than they are about having lost the White House in 2008. They are primarily Republican Party hacks trying to overturn the election results, not representatives of a true grassroots revolt against liberal policies. If that were the case they would have been out demonstrating against the Medicare drug benefit, the Sarbanes-Oxley bill, and all the pork-barrel spending that Bush refused to veto.
Until conservatives once again hold Republicans to the same standard they hold Democrats, they will have no credibility and deserve no respect. They can start building some by admitting to themselves that Bush caused many of the problems they are protesting.

Bruce Bartlett was one of the original supply-siders, helping draft the Kemp-Roth tax bill in the 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s, he was a leading Republican economist. He now considers himself to be a political independent. He is the author of Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action and Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy. His latest book, The New American Economy: The Failure of Reaganomics and a New Way Forward, will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in October.