“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.

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Share this video with 5 friends. 

You need to view and share this John Oliver video.

Seriously.

Yes, share it with 5 people and watch the power of exponential growth — uh, pyramid schemes — like HerbaLife or Amway.

This entertaining but informative video shows how modern-day pyramid schemes work, but it doesn’t explain how they keep getting away with it.

If you join one of these MLMs, or pyramids, you make nothing by selling the product. You only earn by signing up new sales-people, who give you money. But to get the right to do that you have to buy a lot of product, which often ends up in garages or closets.

And here’s the kicker: if you actually do everything right as per the recommendations of the MLM scheme, you run out of human beings. This is classic exponential growth: the founder gets 5 salespeople to sell under him. Each one of them gets 5 more so that generation is 25 people. Then each of those gets 5, for 125, each time multiplying by 5.

I just had my calculator compute 5^10, which means 10 generations, which really doesn’t sound like that many levels,  and I got nearly 10 million people, larger than quite a few states in the USA. Ten generations of friends and coworkers and family getting friends and  coworkers and family members to sign up should only take a few months, right, at about a week per generation of suckers salespeople?

Then: After 15 generations my calculator says, uh, I’m having a hard time counting all the decimal places, because it reads 3.051758713E10, also known as 30,517,578,125.

Of course, that’s impossible. Most folks who get sucked into the MUlti-Level Marketing morass actually earn nothing at all — even by the companies’ own admissions. (See the video!) but they all buy a LOT of product, benefiting the people above them.but I think that means a bit over 30 BILLION people, with a B. Now, last time I checked, we only have about 7.4 billion human beings alive today. So, each and every single Homo sapiens on all seven continents or even sailing on the ocean or living on a remote island somewhere, would have to be a distributor/salesperson/supervisor/sucker, about four times over, just on level 15. If we add in all of the  people from levels 1 through 14, we actually get about 38 BILLION suckers customers dealers.

Why are these things still allowed? Is it because they have paid off some important legislators? On the face of it, pyramid schemes (think Ponzi) are all illegal. How do these companies continue to operate and prey on folks who dont know better?

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