Food and Taxes

“I can’t immediately think of what I could do to ameliorate the *deleterious effects* of a seven-year famine throughout the land,” said the Pharaoh to Joseph during the meeting with the learned and influential men of Egypt. “Have you any suggestions?”

“I do, Your Majesty,” said Joseph “You should appoint controllers all over Egypt. They would collect one fifth of all the food produced during the seven years of plenty, and would store it under your control in the cities. This food will be the reserve for Egyptians to eat from during the seven lean years that’ll follow the seven years of plenty.”

“This sounds, prima facie, a capital idea,” said the Pharaoh. Turning to the learned and influential men in the room, the Pharaoh said, “Do you gentleman not also think Joseph’s idea a capital one?”

“I’m not sure I do,” said the man *whose interpretations* of the Pharaoh’s two dreams had been somewhat different from Joseph’s interpretations.

“You don’t?” said the Pharaoh, “I think, my good fellow, you should tell us all why.”

“Well, Your Majesty, Joseph’s plan is – not to put too fine a point on it – Socialism. Under it, Egypt’s food producers, absent whom we would all starve, would in effect have their taxes doubled. Already, they have ten percent of what they produce taken as taxes. Now, under Joseph’s plan, these taxes would double to twenty percent, since, as even Your Majesty will know, one fifth is the same as twenty percent. Increasing taxes in the form of confiscating food from those who produce it, and then re-distributing it to the ordinary people, is the very opposite of what you should do.”

“Which is?”

“Reduce the food you take as tax from producers, Your Majesty. Halve it, don’t double it. Doubling the tax would only lessen  the incentive to produce food, so that producers would produce less food than they do now. Halving the tax, on the other hand, would increase the incentive to produce. Halve the tax, and the producers of Egypt’s food will increase their production of it to twice what it is now. This’ll be quite enough to tide all Egyptians through the seven lean years.”

“How, then, would I distribute the food to the people?”

“You wouldn’t need to, Your Majesty. The producers of food would store this surplus food on their own premises. When the lean years come, ordinary Egyptians would continue buying their food from the producers of it as they do now. Problem solved.”

“What do you think of all this?” said the Pharaoh to Joseph.

“It’s fine in theory, Your Majesty. But, how can you trust these producers to double their production of food just because they get a big tax cut? It’s only a theory. You can’t take chances with a mere theory when the seven lean years begin. The stakes are simply too high. My plan is the only game in town, so to speak, Your Majesty.”

“What about that doubling the amount of food I take in tax – which is what I’d have to do under your plan – would cause producers to produce less food than they do now, making the creation of a food surplus to tide over the seven lean years, impossible?”

“This problem is easily addressed, Your Majesty. Just issue an edict that any food producer who doesn’t double his production to help tide Egyptians over the seven lean years, will have his head cut off and his headless body fed to the birds to eat.”

“I have to say, Joseph, that your plan does make more sense than the plan of this other man here. So, I’m going to implement your plan in its entirety.”

“You won’t regret it, Your Majesty.”

“I do hope so, Joseph, for I’m putting much trust in your prediction that there’ll be seven plenteous years, followed by seven lean years. Should your prediction not come true, you know what I’ll have done to you, don’t you?”

“I can guess,Your Majesty.”

Source: Genesis 41, 33 – 36

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9 Responses to Food and Taxes

  1. Richard says:

    Tucking away for a rainy day – socialism?
    Where do I sign?

  2. Christopher says:

    I always took you for the type who would follow the man who advocated halving the food confiscations.

  3. Richard says:

    No – the man who’d chop fewer heads off. (As I know you would 🙂 )

  4. dafna says:

    brilliant interpretation!

    OK. call me a ninny, but would anyone care to explain in simple terms when did “socialism” become such a dirty word?

    i don’t remember anything about the cutting off of heads…

  5. Christopher says:

    “……would anyone care to explain in simple terms when did “socialism” become such a dirty word?…….”

    As a denizen of the land between the 49th parallel and the Rio Grande, how could you even ask such a question!!

    “……i don’t remember anything about the cutting off of heads…….”

    This was a mode of punishment in Biblical times, according to the Biblical commentaries I’ve read.

  6. Richard says:

    It is simply in the nature of politics that those who cannot formulate their arguments descend into irrational personal attack, dafna. It is a feature whatever part of the active political spectrum you occupy. Those who do so cease to learn.

    A person’s politics is no measure of their humanity and decency. I have long been satisfied on that score amongst my own friends and associates.

    Bias towards freedom, whatever that means, is what most of all colours my own politics. Yet I fully accept that I may be mistaken and that Socialism, far from being a dirty word, might, for some, be synonymous with freedom.

  7. Christopher says:

    “…..A person’s politics is no measure of their humanity and decency…….”

    I’ve found this too. One’s political utterances can perhaps be seen through a Jungian prism, so that they (the political utterances) are the “shadow self” talking.

  8. Tony Conrad says:

    I was told that socialism is the plundering of the productive by the unaccountable. As for having no heads cut off this is true but world wide millions have been butchered by it’s brother communism.

  9. Christopher says:

    You’re a follower of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, I take it?

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