The tale of two cows & the tragedy of the commons.. 🐄🐄😂🤦‍♀️

🎓📚 The Tragedy of the Commons is a foundational case study in business ethics, triggering discussion and debate amongst business ethicists, economists, and public policy experts. It has evolved to an economic theory that describes how people often use common natural resources (i.e., ‘the commons’) to their advantage without considering the good of a group or society as a whole. Some examples include:

  • Grazing land
  • Fishing areas
  • Living space
  • Clean air

The term “Tragedy of the Commons” was first seen as the title of an article in 1968 by a biologist named Garret Hardin, illustrating how shared environmental resources are overused and eventually depleted. Hardin formed his opinion after observing common fertile land being used by herdsman for grazing their cows with lack of consideration for the shared resource.

🌱 Hardin compared shared resources to a common grazing pasture; in this scenario, everyone with rights to the pasture grazes as many animals as possible, acting in self-interest for the greatest short-term personal gain. Eventually, they use up all the grass in the pasture; the shared resource is depleted and no longer useful.

🎭 He further illustrates that land held as a commons and used by resource users, I.e., herdsmen, would necessarily result in tragedy. The tragedy is that the commons becomes unusable as a resource, and people will either starve or have to abandon the use of that resource.

A commons is a resource, such that it is something that has economic value to human beings, with intrinsic properties that, in relationship to human needs and human understandings of the resource have value. But a commons is a resource that is unowned. As unowned, no one can claim exclusive use to the resource. No one can stop anyone from using the resource if they so choose; that ́s the unowned part of it.

💰 In applying economic logic ….an unowned resource that has a common status, will loose all of its economic value and end in a tragic result . The resource becomes depleted, unusable, worn-out, no longer possessing any value to the users.

However, in reality common resources are managed by corporations or governments, each with their unique governing systems… 🤦‍♀️

♟Now let’s reframe that thinking…. participants are likely to end up in a ‘prisoners dilemma’ situation… requiring players to co-operate or everyone looses, yet individuals have an incentive not to co-operate. For example: A common land can accommodate 100 cows for grazing, 100 farmers each bring a cow, and the cows do well, each farmer profits. As human nature kicks in, each farmer thinks.. hmm..if I bring another cow it will double my income and really… it will only affect and drain an extra 1% of the commons. All 100 farmers think the same way, bringing an extra cow each, thinking they will likely be the only one. 200 cows turn up.. the commons are over grazed, it dies, so do the cows, followed by the farmers.

🐄🐄 The “Tale of 2 cows” has been circulating for decades as a form of satire on various political, economic and ethnic perceptions if you were to live within a system and what happens (to you and your 2 cows) if you were to have 2 cows.

⛓🐄🌱💸⚖️ 😂 I couldn’t help but add my view to this discussion, to tokenize the cows and also “the commons” on the blockchain, raise capital and manage the token utility and voting rights. Provenance is established by tracking the cow from birth to steak, from farm to table, and the land utilization from grazing, with smart contracts to manage the supply chain towards creating the utopian DAO (Distributed Autonomous Organisation) to be discussed in a future article. For sustainability purposes, we could even track the carbon footprint with circular economy thinking. Perhaps a luxury tax for heavy meat-eaters 🤔

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Tale of 2 cows (visual version 1 circulating the internet)

Tale of two cows (version 2, a collection of various entertaining perspectives)

A great insight into the philosophy of politics and business.

SOCIALISM:

  • You have two cows. You give one to your neighbor.

COMMUNISM:

  • You have two cows. The State takes both and give you some milk.

FASCISM:

  • You have two cows. The State takes both and sells you some milk.

NAZISM:

  • You have two cows. The State takes both and shoots you.

FEUDALISM:

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

PURE SOCIALISM:

  • 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.

BUREAUCRATIC SOCIALISM:

  • 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 as many eggs as the regulations say you should need.

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. 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.

APPLIED COMMUNISM:

  • You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.

MILITARIANISM:

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

PURE DEMOCRACY:

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

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY:

  • You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.

AMERICAN DEMOCRACY:

  • 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”.

BRITISH DEMOCRACY:

  • You have two cows. You feed them sheeps’ brains and they go mad. The government doesn’t do anything.

SINGAPOREAN DEMOCRACY:

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

ANARCHY:

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

HONG KONG 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 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 fung shui is bad.

ENVIRONMENTALISM:

  • You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them.

TOTALITARIANISM:

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

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS:

  • 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.

SURREALISM:

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

THERAPYISM:

  • You have two cows. One is a metaphor for your inner child. The other is the manifestation of anger toward a parental figure. You take one of the cows on walks through grassy fields by the gentle ocean waves. The other you beat with an anger bat.

RECOVERYISM:

  • You have twelve cows … and a sponsor.

INSURANCISM:

  • You have two cows.
  • The Federal regulator requires you to hold one cow in reserve because they predict a shortage of milk.
  • The Provincial/State regulator requires you to drop the price of milk because they predict a surplus of milk.
  • The courts deem your cows inherently dangerous and order you to provide free milk to anyone who has ever been frightened by a farm animal.
  • The marketing people are promising chocolate milk at an enhanced commission and you discover your own actuaries have been building pricing models assuming goats instead to save on the expense line.

TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM:

  • You have two cows.
  • You sell one and buy a bull.
  • The herd multiplies…the economy grows…
  • You sell them and retire on the income.

A CHINESE CORPORATION:

  • You have two cows.
  • You have 300 people milking them.
  • You claim they you have full employment and high bovine productivity.
  • You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION:

  • You have two cows.
  • You sell one and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
  • Later, you have a consultant to analyze why the cow has dropped dead.

ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND (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 who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.
  • The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on 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.
  • The public then buys your bull.

A GREEK CORPORATION

  • You have two cows. You borrow lots of euros to build barns, milking sheds, hay stores, feed sheds, dairies, cold stores, abattoir, cheese unit and packing sheds.
  • You still only have two cows.

A FRENCH CORPORATION

  • You have two cows.
  • You go on strike, organise 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 a Cowkimona and market it worldwide.

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 5000 cows. None of them belong to you.
  • You charge the owners for storing them.

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 that you have none.
  • No-one believes you, so they invade and destroy your country.
  • You still have no cows, but at least you are now a 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…

(sources: unknown, pls advise if you know so I can credit the author(s)!)

Check out my post on innovative projects to govern societies

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