“And forgive our debts, as we forgive those who owe us!”

The title of this post might remind you of part of the so-called Lord’s Prayer, which in English is usually rendered “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.”

This sounds like forgiving sins, but in Latin, which I studied for about six years, the prayer is really about forgiving debts:

“et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris”

I don’t know enough Greek to be able to comment on the original meaning of the words as apparently written down in the New Testament in that language, but it is generally accepted that Jesus (if he really existed) spoke Aramaic – but only a few of his (alleged) words were recorded in that language, since the entire NT was written in Greek, not in Hebrew or Latin, and definitely not in English!

The following book makes the argument that forgiving debts, wholesale, was essential if you wanted to avoid stratification of society into a class of oligarchs and a class of everybody else, who were essentially little better than slaves. They make the point that compounded interest grows exponentially and without limit, but economic growth does NOT: it follows a logistic curve at best, which means that there are certain limits.

For example, while bacteria growing in a petri dish appear to grow exponentially for some hours, perhaps for a few days, eventually, there is no more uncontaminated agar for the bacteria to eat, and they start drowning in their own waste products. So despite what one learns in most Algebra classes (including my own), bacterial growth is in actually logistic, not exponential. However, unless debt is periodically forgiven – which seldom if ever happens these days – the debtors end up drowning in debt, as you might be able to discern from this little graph I made:

logistic versus exponential growth

I haven’t read the book, but the review is most interesting. Here is a quote:

Nowhere, Hudson shows, is it more evident that we are blinded by a deracinated, by a decontextualizedunderstanding of our history than in our ignorance of the career of Jesus. Hence the title of the book: And Forgive Them Their Debts and the cover illustration of Jesus flogging the moneylenders — the creditors who do not forgive debts — in the Temple. For centuries English-speakers have recited the Lord’s Prayer with the assumption that they were merely asking for the forgiveness of their trespasses, their theological sins: “… and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us….” is the translation presented in the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. What is lost in translation is the fact that Jesus came “to preach the gospel to the poor … to preach the acceptable Year of the Lord”: He came, that is, to proclaim a Jubilee Year, a restoration of deror for debtors: He came to institute a Clean Slate Amnesty (which is what Hebrew דְּרוֹר connotes in this context).

So consider the passage from the Lord’s Prayer literally: … καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν: “… and send away (ἄφες) for us our debts (ὀφειλήματα).” The Latin translation is not only grammatically identical to the Greek, but also shows the Greek word ὀφειλήματα revealingly translated as debita: … et dimitte nobis debita nostra: “… and discharge (dimitte) for us our debts (debita).” There was consequently, on the part of the creditor class, a most pressing and practical reason to have Jesus put to death: He was demanding that they restore the property they had rapaciously taken from their debtors. And after His death there was likewise a most pressing and practical reason to have His Jubilee proclamation of a Clean Slate Amnesty made toothless, that is to say, made merely theological: So the rich could continue to oppress the poor, forever and ever. Amen.

A pie Chart Showing Who Should Pay What

A few days ago, I followed up on a friend’s speculation on how to pay off the absolutely gynormous national debt, which is about $13.7 TRILLION dollars (or $ 1.37 x 10^ 13, if you prefer scientific notation). Currently this is owed to various mutual funds here in the US and, more and more, to overseas banks, particularly those in China. The annual interest on the national debt is one of the largest items in the national budget.

If that amount was divided equally among all 310 million of us, most of us would be bankrupt, since each one of us would have to pay about $44,000 – forty-four thousand dollars.

However, not all of us. For the the billionaires, the hundred-millionaires, and so on, that’s merely a weekend excursion at some fancy beach or ski resort.

Here is a little pie chart showing one way of dividing up the national debt according to the principle that those with the most should pay the most.

Published in: on November 29, 2010 at 3:24 am  Comments (1)  
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A little math to PAY OFF the entire national debt in ONE YEAR

We US citizens have an enormous problem: our unbelievably huge, thirteen-TRILLION dollar national debt, which is causing our entire government to be in hock to the Chinese banking establishment.

A friend suggested an easy solution. It’s called taxing the richest of us the most, and it involves a little math. So bear with me:

A google search told me that the population of US today (11-24-3010) is about

310,776,000 (a bit over three hundred ten million people) and that the total  National Debt today is about

$13,766,000,000,000 (nearly fourteen TRILLION dollars)

According to Forbes, each of the top 400 richest people in the US has wealth in excess of

$1,000,000,000   (One BILLION dollars)

(Some have many tens of billions, approaching a hundred billion!!! Each!!)

These 400 people can easily afford to be taxed

$200,000,000  (two hundred million dollars – roughly the price of one of their mansions)

Which would raise the following amount:

$80,000,000,000 (Eighty billion dollars)

Which leaves the following for the rest of us:

$13,686,000,000,000  (not a big change yet, apparently, but bear with me)

The next top 1/10 of 1% of the US is also unbelievably wealthy.

They consist of this many individuals:

310,776          (about three hundred ten thousand people)

To help retire the US national debt, they could each easily each be taxed (and not miss), say

$20,000,000    (twenty million dollars)

That would raise

$6,215,520,000,000   (a bit over six TRILLION dollars)

Leaving the following to be paid by the remaining 99.9% of the population:

$7,470,480,000,000   (About seven and a half trillion dollars)

Now let’s consider the next 1/2 of 1% of the population, or about

1,553,880 people. They are also unbelievably wealthy by the standards of ANY

civilization that has ever existed. They could well afford a per capita tax of

$2,000,000      (two million dollars)

That would raise about

$3,107,760,000,000          (a bit over three TRILLION dollars)

Leaving the following to be paid by the remaining 99.4% of the population:

$4,362,720,000,000   (About four and a third trillion dollars)

Now the next 1% of the population is also extremely wealthy. That is

this many people:

3,107,760       (About three million people)

they could each easily each be taxed (and not miss), say

$700,000         (Seven hundred thousand dollars)

BTW: that’s much less than the value of just ONE of their many houses.

Or yachts.

That tax would raise

$2,175,432,000,000   (A bit over two trillion dollars)

Leaving, for the remaining 98.4% of the population, a national debt of

$2,187,288,000,000   (Another two trillion dollars)

Now the next 2% of the population, namely this many people:

6,215,520       (a bit over six million people)

could certainly afford a per capita tax of

$100,000         (one hundred thousand dollars)

That will raise

$621,552,000,000      (About six hundred BILLION dollars)

Leaving the following to be raised by 96.4% of the population:

$1,565,736,000,000   (About one and a half trillion dollars)

The next top 10% of the population works out to

31,077,600     (Thirty one million people)

They can easily afford a per capita tax of

$20,000           (Twenty thousand dollars)

That will raise

$621,552,000,000      (Again, about six hundred billion dollars)

Which leaves the following for the rest of us

$944,184,000,000      (Less than one trillion dollars)

By the way, we still haven’t assessed a full  86.4% of the population, or this many folks:

268,510,464   (About two hundred seventy MILLION people)

Who so far haven’t paid a penny. It’s our turn now.

The bottom half of them, the taxi drivers, office cleaners, waitresses, janitors, unemployed, and so on

are really not well off at all. Let’s see if we can leave them untaxed by just

taxing the upper half of this remaining mass of people. This half is 43.2% of the population, or :

134,255,232 people

If we split up the total remaining national debt among us (I’m in this group)

we get a per-capita obligation of


I don’t know about you, but I can afford that.

And over 40% of the population, the poor, don’t have to pay a cent.

And the entire national debt is PAID OFF!

IN ONE YEAR! (And this process would not have to be repeated again.)

Published in: on November 24, 2010 at 5:58 pm  Comments (14)  
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