Sunday, February 15, 2009

Economic Crisis, Egyptian Style

With the world banking system in crisis, and severe criticism of the big bonuses for bankers in rescued banks, you might wonder if we'll ever pass through the 'credit crunch'. Interest rates are at an all time low, and yet people still aren't spending money, with people fearful for their jobs and just what the future holds.

As I've been reading through Genesis, I came across a passage I can't remember reading before. Or maybe it never struck me as it did in the current climate. After Pharaoh's dreams of the fat cows and the skinny cows, the good ears of corn and the thin ears of corn, the land of Egypt had seven good years, then seven years of famine. During the good years, under the Premiership of Joseph, food was stored up in the barns of Egypt. When the famine struck, times were hard. All the grain was held by Pharaoh, and the people languished.

At the start, the people of Egypt could buy grain. But then the money ran out. A proper banking crisis, with famine conditions. So what to do? They went to Joseph and said, "Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? For our money is gone." (Genesis 47:15). The solution Joseph came up with was for them to exchange their animals for food, so that all the livestock came under the ownership of the state.

But that was just one year. There were still some more years to endure. Same famine. No money. No livestock. What to do? They went to Joseph and said, "We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent. The herds of livestock are my lord's. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? But us and our land for food, and we with our land will be servants to Pharaoh. And give us seed that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate." (Genesis 47:18-19)

From then on, Pharaoh was to receive one fifth of the produce of the land, and the people were to keep four-fifths for food and sowing. Two tithes for the government by right.

So how did Joseph and Egypt deal with an economic crisis? Complete nationalisation, not just of industry, but also of livestock, land and people. Will such a solution rescue the United Kingdom today? No, I don't think so. In fact, I don't think government can save us. It's expecting too much. Yet it might just help to curb the greed of those who exploit others for their personal gain.

No comments:

Post a Comment