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You have two cows
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You have two cows

are suspected to be inherently funny.]]
"You have two cows" is the beginning phrase for a whole series of political joke definitions. (A broad sample of these definitions is listed at the bottom of this article.)

"You have two cows" jokes originated as a parody of typical "Economics 101" examples featuring a farmer in a moneyless society, using his cattle and produce to trade with his neighbors. The examples ran along the lines of "You have two cows; you want chickens; you set out to find another farmer who has chickens and wants a cow, etc." They were meant to show the limitations of the barter system, leading to the eventual introduction of currency and money. The "two cows" parodies however, place the cow-owner in a fully-fledged economic system where cows are used as a metaphor for all currency, capital, means of production, etc. The intent is often to point out flaws and absurdities in those systems.

The first "two cows" jokes were meant to compare opposing economic systems such as capitalism and communism, typically by describing how government and bureaucracy would interfere with one's quiet enjoyment of one's cows. The jokes evolved into satire of various political, cultural, social and philosophical systems and theories. Eventually, virtually anything has come to be usable as "cow joke fodder." Newsworthy events involving actual cows (Mad Cow outbreaks) have also been used as material.

The definitions are examples of the first Internet jokes that circulated in the early days of the Internet. However, the initial variants of these jokes predated the Internet and were circulating in typewritten form even by the early 1980s. Being such a readily understood source of humor in many cultures, "two cows" jokes became a part of the international development of the World Wide Web. The jokes are still circulated today, and are translated and quoted on many websites, in dozens of versions, with newer "definitions" added every year. Tucows, the popular download site, is rumored to have taken its name from these jokes, rather than from The Ultimate Collection Of Windows (or Winsock) Software as implied by its logo.

Because of their freedom and universality of topics, "two cows" jokes are sometimes considered a good example of "cross-cultural humor". They can be concise examples (not necessarily scientific) of how different cultures can express different visions of the same political concept, by paradox, hyperbole, or sarcasm. In practice, most such jokes reflect the views of outsiders to the systems being satirised. In the spirit of finding international common ground, some also see them as humorous manifestations of an underlying general scheme of political science that would compare legal or political concepts, such as the rights of ownership, across cultures around the world.

Cows themselves are a frequent subject matter of humor (see cow ASCII art, cow tipping, The Far Side). Some have conjectured that the word cow may be an inherently funny word.

The following list of these "two cows" jokes was assembled from over 20 different versions found on the web.

The definitions have no scientific value and may reflect certain points of view.

Table of contents
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
External links

A

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

Alcoholism:
You have two cows, but you see four.

Anarchism:
You have two cows. You keep the cows and steal your neighbour's bull. You ignore the government. Meanwhile, your neighbours try to take the cows and kill you. The cows decide you have no right to do anything with their milk and leave to form their own society.

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

Army – United States;:
You have two cows. You don't ask. They don't tell.

Artist – Visual:
You have two cows. You suspend them in formaldehyde in glass display boxes. In London. (See Damien Hirst.)

B

Baathism:
You have two cows. They compete in blaming the Jews for everything until the one with the higher milk revenues grows a mustache and starts gassing you. When it attacks your neighbor, the world just pushes it back to your feedlot and says killing it would violate your sovereignty.

Bureaucracy:
You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can 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.

BureaucracyBritish:
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. OR You have two cows. You feed them sheeps' brains and they go mad. The government doesn't do anything.

BureaucracyEuropean Union:
You have two cows. 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 percent fruit).

BureaucracyIndian:
You have two cows. But since these cows are holy cows, you cannot tell them what to do, or milk them, or do anything useful with them. The cows however, have no such barriers. The emerging liberal democracy requires one to fill out 37 triplicate forms before killing anything, and cows cannot write. Thus the cows do not slaughter you, you do not slaughter the cows, and the pacifist monks are satisfied.

BureaucracyUnited States #1:
You have two cows. One has BSE. You don't bother to check if they have BSE, lest you find out, and then declare there is no problem from BSE in your country.

BureaucracyUnited States #2:
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. You are then paid to not milk cows.

C

Canadaism:
You have two cows. Vous avez deux vaches.

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

CapitalismBrazilian:
You have two cows. You milk them, and try to sell the milk to the Americans. You can't, and blame the protectionist policies of the US, Canada, and Europe. The government then creates the Cow Tax. You have to sell one of your cows to pay for it.

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

CapitalismHong 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.

Capitalism - Enron:
You have two cows. You borrow 80 percent of the forward value of the two cows from your bank then buy another cow with five percent down and the rest financed by the seller on a note callable if your market cap goes below $20B at a rate two times prime. You now sell three cows to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at a second bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more and this transaction process is upheld by your independent auditor and no Balance Sheet provided with the press release that announces that Enron as a major owner of cows will begin trading cows via the Internet site COW (cows on web). (See Enron scandal).

Capitalism – New Economy:
You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull, which you use to breed to the other cow. Then you create a website and start offering to export sperm from the bull to anyone and everyone, especially emerging markets, over the Internet. After a few weeks, your company completes its IPO on NASDAQ, and a few brokerage firms start coverage with a strong buy rating for this wonderful new Internet stock. Your stock zooms from the 10c per share initial offering price to $110, when you sell. The stock plummets back to 10c a few months later when the investors who bought it realise that your business has no earnings and never will, despite the Internet presence. Several law firms and the SEC bring various civil and criminal actions against the company, all of the officers and directors and (of course) you, under various fraud theories. You quickly settle the civil cases so the lawyers get paid, but you still have plenty stashed away. You plead nolo in the SEC case, and you are sentenced to ten years in prison, of which you actually serve seven weeks. When you come out, you buy two chickens.

CapitalismPessimist/Critic's view:
You mass produce genetically modified cows, establish a local monopoly, and sell low-quality, possibly adulterated milk at inflated prices, all the while doing horrendous damage to the environment. Your bank account grows fatter and fatter. When people complain, you hire a team of lawyers and pay for advertisments saying how great you are.

CapitalismUnited States:
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. You go into real estate.

Cartesian dualism:
You have two cows. Therefore you are.

Catholicism:
You have two cows. You feel guilty for having cows and go to confession; your parish priest tells you that having cows is not in and of itself a sin in the eyes of God, but if you are feeling guilty about it, perhaps you should free the cows and say ten Hail Marys.

Centrism:
You have two cows. They are in the middle of the field with 100,000,000 other cows.

Communism:
You have two cows. Your neighbours help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.

Communism-- Reality:
You have two cows. Technically, everyone owns all the cows and everyone is equal. If you happen to be in charge of everyone and their cows, you own more of the cows than everyone else because you are more equal than they are.

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

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

CommunismChinese #1:
You don't have any cows. The government sets up a joint venture with McDonald's.

CommunismChinese #2:
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.

CommunismChinese Cultural Revolution:
You have two cows. The government declares they are "pigs," and 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 neighbours try to create pork from sheer willpower. Your local party leader reports that you have exceeded all expectations. Your neighbours starve.

CommunismCuban #1:
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 milk since 1975.

Communism: – Cuban #2:
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.

CommunismCuban #3:
You used to have two cows, but they sailed to Miami.

CommunismNorth Korean:
You have two cows. The government takes you and the cows hostage, guzzles both of them and nearly starves you, and then offers the world not to nuke it if the international community provides aid.

CommunismSoviet #1:
You have two cows. The state takes both, and gives you a small amount of milk...once.

CommunismSoviet: #2:
You have two cows. Both cows are seized, and then another revolution occurs. Just when everyone else is getting settled down, another revolution occurs. Oh, and your cows are still missing.

CommunismStalinist:
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.

Competition:
You have two cows. You sell their milk for two dollars a bottle. Farmer Joe sells his for one fifty a bottle. The government outsources milk production and Moomoomilk. Inc. merges with Farmer Joe, selling milk for fifty cents a bottle. Eventually, you go bankrupt and sell the cows, while Moomoomilk. Inc. has its board of directors convicted of fraud. The company disbands, and now nobody has milk.

Computers:
You have two cows. One becomes a computer programmer and earns lots of money, until she turns 21, when she is laid off and dies without producing any milk. Her savings pay for her college debts. Your other cow wastes your lifeblood by playing Everquest and later dies off after playing 24 hours in a row.

Confucianism:
You have two cows. They have calves. Honoring their calves promotes you to a second degree governor. After you slaughter the original cows, you die, go to the Halls of the Dead, and are subjugated to the 99 and odd Tortures of Death.

Conservativism:
You have two cows. You freeze the milk, embalm the cows and charge people to look at them.

CorporationAmerican:
You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

CorporationBrazilian:
You have two cows. You enter into a partnership with an American corporation. Soon you have 1000 cows and the American corporation declares bankruptcy.

CorporationFrench:
You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

CorporationGerman:
You have two cows. You reengineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

CorporationIndian:
You have two cows. You worship them.

CorporationItalian:
You have two cows but you don't know where they are. You break for lunch.

CorporationJapanese:
You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. Then you produce the game cowkemon and become a billionaire.

CorporationMexican:
You think you have two cows, but you don't know what a cow looks like. You take a nap.

CorporationRussian:
You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. 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. You produce your 10th 5-year plan in the last 3 months. The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really had.

CorporationSwiss:
You have 5000 cows, none of which belongs to you. You charge for storing them for others.

Counterculture:
Wow, dude, there's like... these two cows, man. You got to have some of this milk.

D

Dada:
You have two cows. Ballerina.

Deconstructionism
You have two cows, or is it that two cows have you?

Democracy #1:
You have two cows. They outvote you 2-1 to ban all meat and dairy products.

Democracy #2:
You have two cows. Your neighbours decide who gets the milk.

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

DemocracyCanadian:
The government gives two cows to natives with treaty status.

DemocracyFloridian:
You have two cows, one black and one white. The voters are asked to name which one they prefer. Some who prefer the white cow vote for the black cow. Some vote for both. Some don't vote at all. Some vote for their favorite but their votes are declared invalid. Some can't even figure out how to vote in the first place. After several weeks, outsiders come in and decide which one is your favorite.

DemocracyRepresentative #1:
You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.

DemocracyRepresentative #2: You have two cows. You elect someone with the best face for T.V. to tell you how to take care of your cows.

DemocracySingaporean:
You have two cows. The government fines you for keeping two unlicensed farm animals in an apartment.

DemocracySouth African
You have two cows. One is hijacked and the government redistributes the other one, in pieces, to previously disadvantaged fellow citizens. You live on the milk you stashed away during the apartheid years.

DemocracyTaiwanese
You have two cows. The government takes one away from you, paints a red star on it, and then cuts it to pieces with automatic rifle fire. Then, the soldiers salute "Long Live Chaing Kai-Shek!" before they leave.

DemocracyUnited States #1:
The government promises to give you two cows if you vote for it. After the election, the president is impeached for speculating in cow futures. The press dubs the affair "Cowgate".

DemocracyUnited States #2:
You have two cows that your parents gave you. Your job provides you with four cows every month, but once a year, the government takes away 24 of them. For some reason, everybody around you seems to have more cows than you. Eventually most of your cows die from old age and over-milking. Then, the government provides you with half a cow every month (just enough so you don't starve).

DemocracyUnited States #3:
You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point 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.

DemocracyUnited States #4:
You have two cows. Your neighbours 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.

DemocracyWikipedia:
Your name might be on the two cows, but you certainly don't have them. The cows belong to everyone, and their genetic code may be freely altered by anyone who comes along — unless one of your cows is controversial, in which case it may be locked in a glass box by the government. One of the cows is sleek, solid and gives good milk. The other is kind of funny looking with five legs and a head the size of a walnut. Her milk has political slogans floating in it. At least she's more than an inch high, now.

Despotism – Modern:
You have two cows. The government steals your cows and shoots you, but in interests of pleasing the global community, name you as a "Militant Rebel Insurgent," call their government an "Enlightened Centralized Executive," and ask for UN peacekeeping troops to come and separate the radical separationist cow-owners from normal people.

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

Dyslexia:
You have two woks.

E

Environmentalism #1:
You have two cows. Government regulations require your cows to wear protective headgear so they do not allow bacteria to die and illegalise the killing of parasites by aggravated cows.

Environmentalism #2:
You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them.

Existentialism:
You have two cows. You declare "Hell is the cows." (See Jean-Paul Sartre.)

F

Fascism #1:
You have two cows. The government seizes both and sells you the milk. You join the underground and start a campaign of sabotage.

Fascism #2:
You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.

Fatalism:
You have two cows. Whatever happens to them, happens.

Feminism:
You have two cows. They get married and adopt a veal calf.

You have two cows. They reproduce through cloning because bulls have no practical use in the world.

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

FDAism:
You have two cows. You force one to drink 400 gallons of water a day. It stops producing milk and dies. You ban water. The second cow has cancer. There is a cancer treatment that has existed for 15 years and has been proven to work, but can no longer be produced because the synthesis requires water. It can't get the treatment it needs and dies. You put the company under investigation.

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

Fundamentalism #1:
You have two cows. The government kills you for owning cows, confiscates your cows, and then kills everyone who suggests that the government should be killed for owning cows.

Fundamentalism #2:
You have two cows. The Bible does not mention cows, and the government confiscates them because they do not exist.

G

H

I

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.

In Soviet Russia:
Two cows have you.

Instant Messaging:
You have two cows. They don't say "moo," they say "lol," "g2g," "brb," and "roflmbo" Whenever you try to milk them, they either warn you, block you, or log out.

J

K

L

Labor Unionisim:
You have two cows. They band together with everyone else's cows to form the Cow Peoples' Union, or CPU. They demand higher wages and shorter working hours. You respond by increasing wages and working hours. As your house burns and your windows are smashed in, you realise that your life depends on these cows, and their happiness is part of your survival. You decide to tell that to God.

Liberalism #1:
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.

Liberalism #2:
You have two cows. You sell both to the rich. The government then taxes the rich one cow and gives it to the poor.

Libertarianism #1:
Go away. What I do with my cows is none of your business.

Libertarianism #2:
You have two cows. One has actually read the constitution, believes in it, and has some really good ideas about government. The cow runs for office, and while most people agree that the cow is the best candidate, nobody except the other cow votes for her because they think it would be "throwing their vote away."

Libertarianism #3:
You have two cows. You let them do what they want.

Libertarianism #4:
You have two cows. To hell with everybody else!

M

Marxism/Leninism:
The proletarian cows unite and overthrow the bourgeoisie cow-herds. The egalitarian democratic cow revolutionary state with the cow party as vanguard disintegrates 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.

Mathematics:
You have cows.

Matrixismism:
There is no cow.

Militarism:
You have two cows. The government takes both cows and presses you into military service.

N

Nazism:
(See Dictatorship.)

Nerdism
You have two cows. You sell one of them on eBay for several thousand dollars and buy a new computer with the profits. Then you write a new operating system and use the second cow for the logo. Unfortunately, no one uses 'CowOs' because Windows is so popular.

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

New Zealandism:
You have two sheep.

Nihilism:
There are no cows. There never were. You have a cigarette and a cup of black coffee to ponder the cow-shaped hole in the universe.

Nuclear fusion:
You have two cows. You smash them into each other with so much force that they are transformed into many gallons of milk and a bull. Since you no longer have any cows, you can't produce more milk or breed the bull. You wait until the bull is worth enough to exchange for three cows. The milk is wasted.

Nursery Rhyme:
You have two cows. They jumped over the moon.

O

Optimism:
You will have three cows.

Olympics-ism:
You have two cows, one American, one Chinese. With the help of trilling violins and state of the art montage photography, John Tesh narrates the moving tale of how the American cow overcame the agony of growing up in a suburb with (gasp) divorced parents, then mentions in passing that the Chinese cow was beaten every day by a tyrannical farmer and watched its parents butchered before its eyes. The American cow wins the competition, severely spraining an udder in a gritty performance, and gets a multi-million dollar contract to endorse Wheaties. The Chinese cow is led out of the arena and shot by Chinese government officials, though no one ever hears about it. McDonald's buys the meat and serves it hot and fast at its Beijing restaurant.

P

Pacifism:
You have two cows. They stampede you.

PETAism:
You have two cows. You decide to sell them to a meat packing plant and retire from farming. The plant is blown up and all the cows are "liberated". Three days later, the cows are euthanized and kept in a freezer for months before being buried. The irony goes unnoticed until the next exposť, which is largely ignored.

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

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

Plutocracism:
You have two cows. Your richer neighbours get to take one of them and the other's milk because they are richer. In rebellion, you become richer and take three of their cows and the fourth's milk. This continues until the cows decide to invent the concept of "Cow-munism", band together, become richer than everyone, and take everything and its milk.

Political Correctness:
You are associated with (the concept of "ownership" is a symbol of the phallocentric, war-mongering, intolerant past) a number of (careful! can't be numerist) differently-aged (but no less valuable to society) bovine/lupine/ovine/caprine/equine/other (also known as BLOCE*) of non-specified gender.

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

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

Q

R

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.

Republicanism:
You have two cows. Your neighbour has none. So what?

S

SASism:
You have two cows. They have no names. You have no name. I have no name. Nobody has any names. Got it?

Simpsonism:
You have two cows. Mmmm... Cows.

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

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.

Socratic Methodism:
How many cows do I have? Why?

Stock Market:
You have two cows. They produce lots of milk until a bear comes and attacks them. They are severely wounded, their children die off, and they refuse to produce milk. They then start to recover and produce milk when federal interest rates rise, still not outperforming inflation but enough to kill your cows off.

Surrealism:
You have two giraffes. The government paints one green and requires you to give the other one harmonica lessons.

Survivorism:
You have two cows. They get taken to a remote farm and go through different challenges to win the "immunity idol." Then they vote each other off and a "jury" of other cows pick one to win a million dollars. The winner eats the money and dies from internal paper cuts and the loser goes on to make millions from sponsors and ads.

T

TheocracyIranian style:
You have two cows. All the world believes only one is a dictator and the other is a democrat, but you can't see any difference and badly want to get rid of both.

TheocracySaudi style:
You have two cows. The government says God has appointed it as the Eternal Guardian of the Two Holy Cows and pockets all the milk revenues. It grants you the choice either to spread the divine message or to suffer decapitation.

TheocracyTaliban style:
You have two cows. You turn them loose in the Afghan countryside and they both die. You blame the godless American infidels.

Taoism
The cow that can be milked is not the true cow.
(Good thing you have two.)

Totalitarianism:
You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned.

U

United Nationism:
You have two cows. France and Russia veto you from milking them. The United States and Britain veto the cows from milking you. China abstains. (see UN Security Council)

V

W

        
Wikipedianism:
This cow is a heifer. You can help Wikipedia by [ milking it].
        
These cows are temporarily protected from milking. Please resolve disputes on the . Protection is not intended to express support of
German or Polish cows.
Some people say you have two cows. Others disagree. Some experts state that anyone who denies the existence of your cows is probably smoking too much manure, but others revert them and call them Nazis.

X

Y

You have two cows:
You have two cows. Your neighbors have sheep. When your neighbors ask you about your cows you explain, "You have two sheep...."

Z

Zen:
A monk had two cows.
One day he went to Joshu. "Do cows have the Buddha-nature?" he asked.
Joshu replied, "Moo."

See also