The Joseph Plan - and the Road to Serfdom

Joseph and the Futures Market

Reference Genesis 41:33-39, 46-49, 53-57; 47:13-26; Exodus 1:11

Most everyone knows the history. Joseph had a dream, and his over zealousness made his brothers envious. But after a rough start he had his chance to serve the Pharaoh by means of interpreting his dream. 7 years of plenty would be followed by 7 years of famine. This is good information. Knowing the future of the commodity markets is very profitable. Joseph, after solving the mystery, becomes Pharaoh's right hand man, and is given the task to do something about the coming agriculture catastrophe.

The plan in Genesis 41:34-36 is straightforward. The government is to tax the harvest at 20% and then administrate that tax income such that the nation is not destroyed. Sounds logical and harmless enough. This plan would be accepted by any and every government on earth today given the same circumstances.

A quick note here: for some strange reason, particularly among those who are businessmen, it is widely spread that Joseph bought the grain, and then sold it back. By being a wise trader, he saved Egypt and became fabulously wealthy. This is absolutely not the case. Joseph did not buy it, he took it by force - or more accurately, he exacted it. To recap,

Genesis 41:34 …he should appoint supervisors over the land to receive a twenty percent tax on the produce of the land

It is impossible to allege that Joseph bought the grain.

Genesis 41:45-49 is the record of the execution of the first phase of the plan, namely collecting the fifth of the produce of the land, twice as much as what the Levi priest were paid (the tenth). To expand the contrast, the Levites produced valuable services for their pay, whereas the Egyptian government under Joseph did not. The second phase begins in 41:53-57, where Joseph commences with selling the grain to those willing and able to purchase it, the exact grain he extracted from the buyers.

Progress of the "Joseph Plan"

Notice the "progress" made in the Egyptian civilization due to Joseph's "wise" plan.

  1. Genesis 47:13-14 There was no food anywhere, for the famine was very severe, so that both Egypt and Kena'an grew weak from hunger. Yosef collected all the money there was in Egypt and Kena'an in exchange for the grain they bought, and put the money in Pharaoh's treasury.
  2. Genesis 47:15-17 When all the money in Egypt had been spent, and likewise in Kena'an, all the Egyptians approached Yosef and said, "Give us something to eat, even though we have no money; why should we die before your eyes?" Yosef replied, "Give me your livestock. If you don't have money, I will give you food in exchange for your livestock." So they brought Yosef their livestock; and Yosef gave them food in exchange for the horses, flocks, cattle and donkeys ? all that year he provided them with food in exchange for all their livestock.
  3. Genesis 47:18-20 When that year was over, they approached Yosef again and said to him, "We won't hide from my lord that all our money is spent, and the herds of livestock belong to my lord. We have nothing left, as my lord can see, but our bodies and our land. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we and our land will be enslaved to Pharaoh. But also give us seed to plant, so that we can stay alive and not die, and so that the land won't become barren." So Yosef acquired all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh, as one by one the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine weighed on them so severely. Thus the land became the property of Pharaoh.
  4. Genesis 47:21-22 As for the people, he reduced them to serfdom city by city, from one end of Egypt's territory to the other. Only the priests' land did he not acquire, because the priests were entitled to provisions from Pharaoh, and they ate from what Pharaoh provided them; therefore they did not sell their land.
  5. Genesis 47:23-25 Then Yosef said to the people, "As of today I have acquired you and your land for Pharaoh. Here is seed for you to sow the land. When harvest time comes, you are to give twenty percent to Pharaoh; eighty percent will be yours to keep for seed to plant in the fields, as well as for your food and for that of your households and your little ones." They replied, "You have saved our lives! So if it pleases my lord, we will be Pharaoh's slaves."
  6. Genesis 47:26 Yosef made it a law for the country of Egypt, valid to this day, that Pharaoh should have twenty percent. Only the property belonging to the priests did not become Pharaoh's.

At first, the people engage in economic transfers in money, second in barter and lastly in their own bodies, which is prostitution. The end result of Joseph's policy was an "economic" system of prostitution and slavery, where previously the people were free. We see, before our very eyes, the transformation inside of a short time span of the private ownership society to a slavery society, or government managed economy. By Joseph's hand, the entire population was reduced to serfdom.

Something truly amazing is found in verse 25 where the formerly free people are eternally thankful that they have been reduced to serfdom! It never occurred to them that they were completely bamboozled. So the next time government claims to have saved us, one should take a closer look at the situation. It is in all likelihood another Joseph Plan.

But what he sows, he shall reap. If the Egyptians were reduced to slavery by one Hebrew, then all the Hebrews were reduced to slavery by one Egyptian.

Exodus 1:8-11 Now there arose a new king over Egypt. He knew nothing about Yosef but said to his people, "Look, the descendants of Isra'el have become a people too numerous and powerful for us. Come, let's use wisdom in dealing with them. Otherwise, they'll continue to multiply; and in the event of war they might ally themselves with our enemies, fight against us and leave the land altogether." So they put slave-masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built for Pharaoh the storage cities of Pitom and Ra'amses.

Notice that the Hebrews built "storage cities" under Pharaoh - which is the same the Egyptians built under Joseph. What comes around goes around.

Where did Joseph go astray? The key is in the numbers. According to the logic of Joseph, because the folk enjoyed slave status, the Egyptians had to pay a 20% tax. During phase one, Joseph taxed them what amount? 20%. So in reality, Joseph treated them as if they were slaves at the beginning of the 7 years of plenty. They did not mind at the time, for there was so much wealth to squander. They paid no heed to the wisdom of the proper superintendence of capital, and paid the price dearly. The peoples, once treated as if they were slaves, must at some point became slaves. Modern day government taxation agencies understand, and execute, this principle.

Joseph's plan was an effort to get out of jail, similar to the method used in Genesis 40:14. Joseph plants the indirect seed into the Pharaoh in verse 33, which blossoms in verse 39. Additionally, Joseph, speaking the political language, very wisely drops the phrase "raise taxes", packed in a seemingly logical argument. The pharaoh politician, understanding the increased revenue principle, figures this is his chance. How many politicians have not appreciated an excuse for raising the tax burden? Noting that Joseph is the author of this genius tax policy, the pharaoh puts him in charge of the FAAA, the Federal Agriculture Administration Agency.

Beyond that, Joseph took upon himself a task not suited for him as a government official. Treating free people like slaves by instilling an income tax is not an official's job. Officials are to punish wrong doers, not nationalize sectors of the economy that properly belong to private individuals. If Joseph would have not stolen 20% of the produce, the peoples would have had enough to live on. The amount of food did not increase due to the fact that the government was administering it as opposed to the private market. Joseph only needed to teach the farmers the basic principles of capitalism, that is saving for a rainy day. By this scheme, the peoples would have remained free, and the Hebrews could have avoided slavery under the hand of the Pharaoh. But instead, Joseph used his insider knowledge to ruin a great people. This is how government works when not abiding by Romans chapter thirteen.

The insulting point of the story is that Joseph sells back the grain that he first confiscated. This is typical for modern day governments. They steal from us in taxes in the name of providing some service, and then sell it back to us. I steadfastly insist on the word "stole", since the tax had nothing to do with punishing wrong-doers. It would have been at least marginally fair to give the grain back to the rightful owners, or charged a storage fee. But it is obvious that the people could have done the same for themselves; entrepreneurs could have built barns and rented them out to the farmers for safe keeping. There is no justification for what Joseph did. Under the "Joseph Plan", the civilians were doomed from the start.

The "Joseph Plan" of our day

The "Joseph Plan" is nothing new. Calls for government action to save us from impending economic catastrophes and the supposed inborn self-destructive mechanisms in the private ownership society / capitalism abound everywhere. We do not deny that the "Joseph Plan" performed what it set out to do. Quite the contrary, they were enslaved, so the ploy worked according to script. And the peoples survived. But at what cost? Slavery. If Joseph had respected private property, they not only would have survived, they would have prospered. Joseph effectively sent Egypt back to the stone-age. A once advanced civilization was reduced to slavery in the space of a few years. Modern economic management policy aims to do the same.

Notice that the "Joseph Plan" assumed the administration of the most important economic commodity in his time. This is typical. Monopoly in such sectors ensured absolute dependency, but absolute dependency is by definition slavery. The explicit goal of all government action outside of security services is to make the peoples slaves. This is the historical precedent. Notice that the production of "teddy bears" does not interest government. The price would be high, the quality low, and everyone would do without; and thus the fraud would be so evident, even government would have to admit failure. But necessities are necessary. If we want to live a civilized life, we have to buy from the monopolized industries. By regulating necessary services, we are forced to pay for poor quality at a high price, and the obvious fraud can be at least smoke screened from the less perceptive observers.

We see in the end that Marx and Stalin were not brilliant thinkers ahead of their time, but rather rehashed failed government policy from thousands of years prior. But the word "failed" is in the eyes of the beholder. The government officials chalk this up as a tremendous success; for they complete what they set out to do, enslave the citizens with shackles of (absolute) dependency. According to the official line, they wish to "save us from ourselves", but in reality they wish to enslave us for personal profit taking.

Author: Scott Wallace Brians
Date: 24 December 2005
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Bible Text: Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern