Sunday, February 20, 2011

Joseph + the Amazing Technicolor Tax Plan*

“Okay, everybody, gather round; it’s time for a story!” Mr. Shepherd said with a big grin.

“What kind of story?” asked Miss Dollar, pretending she didn’t know.

“A Bible story!” Mr. Shepherd exclaimed.

And all the the children cried, “YAY!”

When everyone was still, Mr. Shepherd said, “Today’s story is about Joseph. How many of you remember him?”

“I do! I do!” said the children, raising their hands.

“Of course you do!” Mr. Shepherd said. “Joseph is a Bible hero! Does anyone remember why?”

“He’s a Bible hero because he loved his family!” said Ben.

“That’s right; Joseph loved his father and brothers very much, Ben. And what else?”

“Joseph refused to have premarital sex,” said Chastity. “He ran away naked when his boss's wife tried to…um…what do you call it?”

“When she tried to seduce him; that’s right Chastity! What else?”

“He’s a Bible hero because he always trusted God, even when everything looked hopeless.” said Will. 

“My, you all remember so much about Joseph! And because of all those great qualities, he was promoted to a position of tremendous honor and responsibility in the land of Egypt. Isn’t that wonderful?”

And all the children nodded their heads; except Elizabeth, who raised her hand and waited until she was called on. 

“You stopped asking, ‘And what else,’ before we got to the end,” she said.

“OK, Elizabeth,” Mr. Shepherd replied, throwing a little wink to Miss Dollar. "What else?"

“Joseph is also a Bible hero,” Elizabeth began, “because when he saw in a dream that a global food shortage was coming, he instituted a 20 percent tax on everything grown in Egypt for seven years and stored huge quantities of grain all over the country — so much that he stopped keeping records because no one could count it all." 

“Wait a minute!” interrupted Milton. “That doesn’t sound right! I thought you said Joseph followed God.”

“He did!” Elizabeth responded, but Milton cut her off again.

“No way! That's nanny state stuff! God would never tell a leader to do that!”

“Well, apparently, that’s what God told Joseph,” Elizabeth said. “Then, when the economy slid off the rails, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain back to the Egyptians.”

“They bought their own grain?” Milton demanded. “That’s crazy! That’s like a double tax! God hates taxes! Tell her Mr. Shepherd!”

But Mr. Shepherd just sat there, looking stunned.

Elizabeth pressed on: “And then the global food supply collapsed and everybody in the world came to buy grain from the Egyptian government.”

This horrified the other children, who looked to Miss Dollar for help. But she faked a coughing fit and buried her face in the crook of her arm. 

After an awkward moment, Milton intoned the words they were all thinking: “God believes in free market solutions, Elizabeth. You take that back.”

But Elizabeth didn’t take it back; she plowed ahead: “The famine was far from over, and Joseph sold food to the Egyptians until all their money was gone." 

Milton’s face was very red now. “He never!”

“When the money was gone, Joseph traded food for livestock. And when the government owned all the livestock, Joseph bought up all the land in Egypt — and everyone sold, because you can’t eat dirt every day. So the people were reduced to servitude from one end of Egypt to the other.”

“LIES!” Milton screamed, his eyes bulging.

“No!” Elizabeth countered. “It’s not! It’s part of why Joseph is a Bible hero! It’s right there in the book of Genesis! You could read it for yourself!”

Milton was crying freely now. “But we’re just children!” he sobbed, snot running down the little furrow between his nose and upper lip. “The adults would have told us if that was in the Bible…right?”

“You’d think, wouldn’t you?” said Elizabeth in a sad voice. She smiled gently. “After that, Joseph gave everyone seed to plant. And he made the 20 percent tax permanent. And do you know what the people did?”

Milton snuffled. “They rose up in a mighty tax revolt and demanded a return to true capitalism as God intended?”

“No,” Elizabeth said. “They thanked Joseph for saving their asses — also their camels and goats. Just kidding; the government owned the livestock. They thanked Joseph for saving their lives and got to work rebuilding the economy.

“And that’s how Joseph became a Bible hero,” Elizabeth concluded. “And it’s how his father and the rest of his family survived to become the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The rest of the story, you can read at your leisure.”

”I need to blow my nodes,” Milton moaned, and excused himself to search for a tissue.

* Apologies to Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Tim Rice, and Moses

1 comment:

Josh Meares said...

And then Georgie asked, "How did that turn out over the long run?" And his nerdy friend Zach answered, "Well, it worked out pretty good for Joseph and his kin. Unfortunately, the next king didn't care about Joseph so much, and all the power and the economy had been consolidated into his hands. So, he enslaved the Israelites, worked them brutally, killed their children until they cried out to God. Then God raised up a leader and wreaked terrible judgment against the Eyptians, then the Jews rebelled, left Egypt and created a new nation."

Because as the Bible says, "There is no one righteous, no not one." And because an interested group will always increase in power at the expense of the majority unless checked by another interested group. :D