The following has been circulating on the inter-tubes. It rather pithily captures the essence of different economic systems. My favorite is the AIG Venture Capitalism description.
Understanding Economic Systems
a simple explanation
You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell the herd and retire on the income.
You have two cows. You give one to your neighbor.
You have two cows. The State takes both and gives you some milk.
You have two cows. The State takes both and sells you some milk.
You have two cows. The State takes both and shoots you.
You have two cows. The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away.
You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.
An American corporation
You have two cows. You sell one and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyze why the cow has dropped dead.
AIG Venture Capitalism
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 an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder. He sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option for one more. You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. Then the public buys your bull.
A French corporation
You have two cows. You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.
A Japanese corporation
You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create a clever cow cartoon image called “Cowkimon” and market it worldwide.
A German corporation
You have two cows. You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.
An Italian corporation
You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are. You decide to have lunch.
A Swiss corporation
You have 5,000 cows. None of them belong to you. You charge the owners for storage.
A Chinese corporation
You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim that you have full employment and high bovine productivity. You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.
An Indian corporation
You have two cows. You worship them.
A British corporation
You have two cows. Both are mad.
An Iraqi corporation
Everyone thinks you have lots of cows. You tell them you have none. No one believes you so they bomb the crap out of you and invade your country. You still have no cows but now you are part of Democracy.
An Australian corporation
You have two cows. Business seems pretty good. You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.
A New Zealand corporation
You have two cows. The one on the left looks very attractive.