Obama’s Cairo speech and crucifixion.

Obama’s Cairo speech and the topic of  crucifixion.

President Obama held a speech in Cairo Jun 4 2009 and quoted the Holy Quran a number of times. I looked up a few of the verses in context and stumbled on the term  Crucify  in the next verse in the same Sura. It seems that the punishment for murder is  Crucifixion.mutilation or forced exile. Let us look at all the instances of Crucify  and compare it with the account in the Holy Bible.

The verse Obama quoted is from Sura 5 (The Feast) The Authorized English translation of the Quran, by Dr. Rashad Khalifa.

[5:32] Because of this, we decreed for the Children of Israel that anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life, it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people. Our messengers went to them with clear proofs and revelations, but most of them, after all this, are still transgressing.

[5:33] The just retribution for those who fight GOD and His messenger, and commit horrendous crimes, is to be killed, or crucified, or to have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or to be banished from the land. This is to humiliate them in this life, then they suffer a far worse retribution in the Hereafter.

[5:34] Exempted are those who repent before you overcome them. You should know that GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.

The punishments are severe indeed. Not only for murder , but also for working against GOD and His messenger.

Next comes 3 instances of Moses and the Egyptian magicians They are in Sura – 7 The Purgatory, Sura – 20 T.H. (Ta Ha) and Sura – 26 The Poets (Al-Shu`ara’)

[7:117] We (Allah) then inspired Moses: “Throw down your staff,” whereupon it swallowed whatever they fabricated.

[7:118] Thus, the truth prevailed, and what they did was nullified.

[7:119] They were defeated then and there; they were humiliated.

[7:120] The magicians fell prostrate.

[7:121] They said, “We believe in the Lord of the universe.

[7:122] “The Lord of Moses and Aaron.”

[7:123] Pharaoh said, “Did you believe in him without my permission? This must be a conspiracy you schemed in the city, in order to take its people away. You will surely find out.

[7:124] “I will cut your hands and feet on alternate sides, then I will crucify you all.”

The second recount of the same occurrence.

[20:60] Pharaoh summoned his forces, then came.

[20:61] Moses said to them, “Woe to you. Do you fabricate lies to fight GOD and thus incur His retribution? Such fabricators will surely fail.”

[20:62] They disputed among themselves, as they conferred privately.

[20:63] They said, “These two are no more than magicians who wish to take you out of your land with their magic, and to destroy your ideal way of life.

[20:64] “Let us agree upon one scheme and face them as a united front. The winner today will have the upper hand.”

[20:65] They said, “O Moses, either you throw, or we will be the first to throw.”

[20:66] He said, “You throw.” Whereupon, their ropes and sticks appeared to him, because of their magic, as if they were moving.

[20:67] Moses harbored some fear.

[20:68] We said, “Have no fear. You will prevail.

[20:69] “Throw what you hold in your right hand, and it will swallow what they fabricated. What they fabricated is no more than the scheming of a magician. The magician’s work will not succeed.”

[20:70] The magicians fell prostrate, saying, “We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses.”

[20:71] He said, “Did you believe in him without my permission? He must be your chief; the one who taught you magic. I will surely sever your hands and feet on alternate sides. I will crucify you on the palm trunks. You will find out which of us can inflict the worst retribution, and who outlasts whom.”

And once more the same account:

[26:43] Moses said to them “Throw what you are going to throw.”

[26:44] They threw their ropes and sticks, and said, “By Pharaoh’s majesty, we will be the victors.”

[26:45] Moses threw his staff, whereupon it swallowed what they fabricated.

[26:46] The magicians fell prostrate.

[26:47] They said, “We believe in the Lord of the universe.

[26:48] “The Lord of Moses and Aaron.”

[26:49] He said, “Did you believe with him before I give you permission? He must be your teacher, who taught you magic. You will surely find out. I will sever your hands and feet on alternate sides. I will crucify you all.”

The corresponding Old Testament version is taken from Exodus 7:

6 Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD commanded them. 7 Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

8 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.”

10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said.

Note that there is no retribution in the biblical account, and certainly no crucifixion. In fact crucifixion is not mentioned even once in the Old Testament. I have been told that crucifixion was invented by the Romans as the most visible, slow and cruel torture-execution they could think of. So if Pharaoh did crucify people, this should be general knowledge among the Egyptologists. But I have not found it so.

The next account is Joseph in jail, and Pharaoh’s dream; it is found in Sura – 12 Joseph ( Yousuf).

[12:38] “And I followed instead the religion of my ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We never set up any idols beside GOD. Such is the blessing from GOD upon us and upon the people, but most people are unappreciative.

[12:39] “O my prison mates, are several gods better, or GOD alone, the One, the Supreme?

[12:40] “You do not worship beside Him except innovations that you have made up, you and your parents. GOD has never authorized such idols. All ruling belongs to GOD, and He has ruled that you shall not worship except Him. This is the perfect religion, but most people do not know.

[12:41] “O my prison mates, one of you will be the wine butler for his lord, while the other will be crucified – the birds will eat from his head. This settles the matter about which you have inquired.”

[12:42] He then said to the one to be saved “Remember me at your lord.” Thus, the devil caused him to forget his Lord, and, consequently, he remained in prison a few more years.

[12:43] The king said, “I saw seven fat cows being devoured by seven skinny cows, and seven green spikes (of wheat), and others shriveled. O my elders, advise me regarding my dream, if you know how to interpret the dreams.”

The corresponding biblical account is found in:

Genesis 40 (NIV)

The Cupbearer and the Baker

1 Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time, 5 each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

6 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?”

8 “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

9 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.”

12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 For I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”

16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. 17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”

18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days. 19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat away your flesh.”

20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand, 22 but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.

23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.

Genesis 41

1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. 7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.

8 In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was hanged. “

(The term hang could also be impale, which means stick a spear through the body of the condemned, stick the spear in the ground and leave them  up for public exposure. Since the spear is stuck through the heart it means instant death. This too is not crucifixion.)

And finally:  Sura – 4 Women (Al-Nesaa’)

[4:157] And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of GOD. In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him – they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him.

[4:158] Instead, GOD raised him to Him; GOD is Almighty, Most Wise.

Here the New Testament accounts are numerous, but also the Old Testament accounts testify of a crucifixion, but since it was not invented yet, it was described in other words

Here are two of the Old Testament accounts:

Isaiah 53

1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied ; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

The oldest preserved copy of Isaiah was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and dates back to around 150 B.C. (or BCE for non-Christians)

Another source is:

Psalm 22

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.

4 In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.

5 They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

8 “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast.

10 From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

13 Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced [c] my hands and my feet.

17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.

18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

19 But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.

23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him— may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him— those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn— for he has done it.

These two Old Testaments depicts how the Messiah must suffer and die.

Jesus quotes Psalm 22 when He is on the cross.  This is a quote from Matthew 7:

45From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

47When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

This is significant for many reasons. The Hebrew word for GOD is Elohim and the same word in Arabic is Allah. They are both plural, and since they are semitic languages plural means three or more. Here Jesus uses the word El, which is GOD in singular. When some heard it they did not understand, since they had never heard GOD referred to in singular, so rhey thought he must mean Elijah. David penned the sentence many centuries before under the leading of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had said before “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Here is the first and only time when they are separated, by the conscious act of the Father (forsaken, not forgotten). As we saw from Isaiah 53:10 above this makes sense that He must suffer and die to take away our sins. But also , by becoming a man, He could do away with the physical sacrifice once and for all. So He died, was buried, and on the first day of the week He rose again.  Forty days later He was taken up to Heaven (Ascension Day). Luke 24:50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Acts 1:9After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11″Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Now the accounts in the Bible and the one in the Quran converge again, and we can agree:

[Sura 4:158b]GOD raised him to Him; GOD is Almighty, Most Wise. This is the Easter message of the bodily risen Messiah. The New Testament accounts go into more details about this and provide confirmation that the Old Testament prophesies indeed are true.


Obama’s State of the Union speech and Groundhog day. A Limerick.

As Air America Radio pointed out:

“It is an ironic juxtaposition of events: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication while the other involves a groundhog.”

This gem was originally aired in 2007  but is much more àpropos today. Air America is now defunct, for obvious reason, not related to this  quote. This year the state of the union speech is a week early, but seeing his vacation picture I could not help but make some observations:

Obama is looking a wee bit too scrawny.

Gone are the days when he seemed to be brawny.

He can’t cope with stress

So he works less and less.

Gets scared of his shadow, like Phil Punxsutawney

Pomperipossa in Monismania.

Pomperipossa in Monismania

The most beloved Swedish author of books for children, Astrid Lindgren, most famous for her Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Långstrump) books which have been translated into 70 languages and made into several movies and picture books, penned this opus. Her books were so beloved that they caused her a great deal of trouble.

In the form of a fairy tale she described how it came to be, that as a Sole Proprietor she was forced to pay a tax of 102% of her income.

What follows is a free translation of the famous publication, which was published pomperipossain the Swedish evening tabloid  Expressen  on March 3, 1976. (For the purpose of comparison, one 1976 Monismania monetary unit is roughly equivalent to one 2018 U.S. Dollar)

The translation has many deliberate style breaks from child literature to bureaucratese, all in concordance with the original Swedish.

I am going to tell  you a fairy tale. It is of a woman; let us call her Pomperipossa, which is a good name to call someone in fairy tales. She lived in a land that we call Monismania, for we have to name it something.

 Pomperipossa loved  her county, its forests, mountains, lakes, and green groves, and not only that, she also loved the people living there. And even the wise men that ruled the country, oh, she thought they were so wise, and because of that she voted faithfully for them every time there was an election to decide who should rule Monismania. Those that had decided everything for more than 40 years had made such a good community, she thought. No one in the land needed to be poor, everyone got a piece of the welfare cake, and Pomperipossa was full of joy that she had been able to contribute a good portion of the cake as they baked it and spread the wealth around. Oh the sweet aroma from a well baked cake!

There was something in Monismania called marginal tax rates. It meant that the more money you earned, more of that money would go to the head tax master, so he could make a bigger welfare cake. But he would not take more than 80 to 83% from anybody; no he wanted to be reasonable. “Dear Pomperipossa,” he said, “you can keep around 17 to 20% for yourself and use whichever way you want.” And Pomperipossa was filled with joy and kept skipping down the road of life. There were though many unsatisfied people in the land who beat their shields and wailed about “the oppressive taxes” as they used to call it. Pomperipossa never did that, nobody in all of Monismania had ever heard even a sigh from her about her contributions to the welfare cake. On the contrary, she thought it was altogether good and fair so she had set her mind to keep giving her vote to the wise men so they could keep on doing the best for her dear Monismania.

This Pomperipossa,  she wrote books for children. She did it for the pure joy and pleasure of doing so, just to have a little fun here in her earthly life. She thought to herself: “Who knows, other children may be almost as childish as I am, maybe they too will read about these my marvelous imaginations?” It turned out that this they really wanted. Not only the children of Monismania but also in lands far, far away, both in the east and the west. People could hardly believe it, but there sat innocent little children in all corners of the world, and they read and read over-abundantly, without end! This led to Pomperipossa’s great misfortune, indeed, the more they read, the more money kept flowing to poor Pomperipossa. “Poor”, why poor? Wait till you hear this!

On a beautiful day the wise men that ruled Monismania gathered together at a castle we may call Haga, because that is what it was called. Well, it wasn’t really a castle, more like a mansion that the King had used in previous centuries as a summer place so he could take walks in the beautiful gardens and listen to music played in the long northern summer evenings, all while the birds sang and the flowers flowered. Times had changed and the King could no longer afford the place, so he gave it to the wise men to take care of. The wise men liked to feel like the King used to, so they loved to gather there. But it was still winter, so they stayed inside. It must have been on a coffee break (the hallowed tradition of that country that nobody could think ill of, for there are both cinnamon buns and cookies and tarts served with real strong coffee), so they didn’t have the time to check even once after they made the list of new rules. They decided on strange new rules that made life puzzling to say the least, not only for Pomperipossa, but also for many other Monismaniacs. But of that Pomperipossa had no idea at first. Not until a good friend suddenly asked her:

“Are you aware of the fact that your marginal tax rate this year is 102%?”

“You are talking nonsense”, Pomperipossa said. “That many percent does not exist!”

For she was not particularly familiar with Higher Mathematics.

Oh yes, she was told, in Monismania there were percents without end, and if one put together the income taxes and the social employer fees that Pomperipossa had to pay, since she was a small business owner, it came to 102%, so Pomperipossa could say what she wanted! Poor, poor Pomperipossa, she just sat there and wrote early and often and did not even know that she was a small business owner. She really should have been proud: “Ah, I am a Small Business Owner, who could have thought?” But after she had counted the numbers for a while she found out slowly but surely that to be a Small Business Owner in Monismania was sure death warmed over.

Thus she thought  and thus she counted:

These terrible little children that are sitting in all the nooks and crannies of the world, reading together money for me, how much money will their disastrous eagerness to read bring me this year? Best case maybe only a million. Worst case two million. (Since the money came dribbling in from the four corners of the world, she never knew before it happened how much money she would get. Big fat checks could mercilessly attack her when she least suspected it.) Let us think the worst, Pomperipossa thought. Two million!

Then the taxes will be like this:

Of the first 150 000 the rascals are reading together for you, you get to keep, so they say, 42 000 kronor. The rest of the 150 000 = 108 000 is going to the

Welfare cake…… 108 000

100% of what is more than that… 1 850 000

And then the additional 2 %, that you in your simple-mindedness did not think could be…… 37 000

Total for the Welfare cake…… 1 995 000

Left for Pomperipossa…… 5 000

Having come thus far she said to herself: “My dear old woman, you have never been good at the third R! There are decimal points and all those things, surely you have counted wrong, surely there must be 50 000 left for you.” She started over, but the result did not change one bit – if you made two million, you got to keep 5000 – to live on!

Pomperipossa was worried, it can’t be denied, so she said to herself:”Not that you are a particularly big eater, but yet! 5 000 kronor – when the salted herring, that yesteryear was poor man’s food is priced sky high, and all other prices have followed.” Now she got really scared, and she jumped out screaming to herald friends and acquaintances her distress. But they did not want to believe her. “5 000 kronor, don’t you try that on me!” When she finally managed to convince them they said helplessly: “But you must have a lot of deductions?” What deductions? Pomperipossa wondered. Deductions are money you have paid out. You can’t eat them like salted herrings.

Without finding any consolation, Pomperipossa went home and sat down in a dark corner to think and to brood. How will I get this day my daily bread? she thought. Maybe there are some poorhouses left, so I can beg a meal here and there? Maybe if I seek the wise men and knock on their doors, then maybe, just maybe they will show mercy and give me a bowl of soup every now and then, they can take a little of the 1 995 000 kronor, it could even be quite a full bodied soup, maybe they will even put a little piece of sausage in it?

 But not even the thought of sausage helped. Pomperipossa’s countenance grew darker and darker. She now understood that it was something dirty and shameful to write books, since it was punished so severely. How is it in other lands? she pondered. Well, she knew something about that, for she had just met a kind little Russian, and he was an author. His books were selling off the shelves, and he paid 13% in taxes. (Pomperipossa told him about her 102%, and then he fell of his chair. But as soon as he got off the floor he took a beeline home to tell everybody about this in his land.) Pomperipossa had also heard that in Ireland they cherished their authors very much, so much so that they didn’t take any tax at all from the income from their books. But that must be a lie, Pomperipossa thought.

There was a lot of thinking done as she was sitting in her cranny. There were many other self-employed people in Monismania, not just herself. There were, for instance, doctors and dentists – and even lawyers in Monismania, and they had perhaps quickly figured out that the more you worked, the less you made, and had therefore decided to totally ignore the acute cholecystitis and impacted third molars and divorces and real estate transactions of all the Monismaniacs, at least one, two, three, four, or five days a week. This must be the reason that the monismaniacs were now in a real pickle when they got gallstones or aching wisdom teeth or needed a lawyer to buy an old house with a lot of debt, which was the best way, so Pomperipossa had heard, if one wanted to lower the 102 percent down to almost nothing. Even the chief tax master had done that, and he was glad he did.

Having come thus far  in her thoughts, Pomperipossa sighed. Why, oh why did she not have any debt at all, sitting in an apartment all her life? Oh, my dear parents, why did you teach me that debt is evil, something to be abhorred? See what this has led to, here I am sitting totally debt free, and all I have are these cursed incomes that are ruining me!

 More and more  Pomperipossa pondered in her corner. She remembered how well Joseph in Egypt had understood that during the seven fat years one must prepare for the seven lean years that were to follow. Pomperipossa, too, had really been this wise. She had bought retirement insurance, quite a lot of it she had done. It is reasonable, she had thought to herself, that I should take care of myself in my old age. When my pen falls out of my shaking hand, and I can write no more, then I do not want to be a burden to society. This way I will continue to have my daily bread. Of course I will have to pay taxes on the income from my retirement insurance, but that will be then, not now! For retirement insurance premiums were to be deductible. The wise men that ruled Monismania had quite reasonably ruled many years ago that all premiums up to a certain amount of the retirement insurance premiums should be deductible. Taxes were to be paid when the premiums were paid out. Many people had done so. There were, for instance, artists in the entertainment industry that knew their popularity would be short-lived. Here today, gone tomorrow, they thought, it is prudent to take out retirement insurance while the going is good, so I still have something when they no longer want to hear my shouts of joy and wailings of misfortune. If I don’t do it, I will have to take out the beggar’s cup.

For the longest time the wise men of Monismania said this was wise and prudent. But little by little they changed their minds and thought otherwise. He that was the top decider among the wise men suddenly sat straight up and said that the hairs on his head stood on end when he saw all the deductions the people made from their retirement insurance premiums; Shame, shame, retirement insurance is ugly and shameful! Why is that? Pomperipossa thought, and why are his hairs standing on end without end? How can something the wise men themselves have decided, and that until now has been right and proper, suddenly be comparable to tax evasion? For so it was presented in the wise men’s own newspaper. There were long lists published of how much money people made, and the horrendous deductions they took. But there was a shortage of space, so there was never room to list how much the people paid in taxes, 102% and things like that was never mentioned. No, but the deductions were thoroughly explained! Aha, the enraged readers thought, those filthy rich parasites, what outsized deductions they make for their champagne and caviar and riotous living!

At last  the so called public opinion was so well prepared, that when the wise men put forth their bill in the house where they decided those things, there was nobody left who would dare to take up the fight and defend the deductaibility of retirement insurance premiums, for public opinion can-not be challenged, there was an election coming – and soon, no less. So a law was enacted with retroactive effect, which Pomperipossa understood was a first in all the history of Monismania.

In other words, insurance contracts that Pomperipossa quite lawfully had signed more than ten years ago, they were now torn apart in three daring leaps. And she was forced to go to her insurance company and say: “I am sorry, I cannot complete our agreement, for I can no longer pay!” But the insurance company people were just then in complete shock and despair and, to put it mildly, angry at the wise men for making this decision without first checking with the people that actually knew something about what consequences this would have, they just stared at Pomperipossa with bloodshot eyes and asked her to get lost; before the whole house fell down.

There was more thinking Pomperipossa had time for in her dark nook. In the good old days, when the marginal tax rate was at most 83%, there was something called “periodic support”. This meant that, if you – like Pomperipossa in the good old days – had a little bit more money than she needed for bare subsistence, and had some less fortunate relatives or other people you really cared for, you could give them periodic support. These support payments were deductible, and just because of that, it was possible to give them. The welfare cake would still get its reasonable portion, since the one getting the support must pay taxes on it. But one beautiful day the hairs on all the wise men began standing on end again. Perhaps they had heard of a Monismanic son with adequate income giving his poor mom 25 000 in yearly support, so that she could live above poverty. Shame, shame, this is not right, the wise men thought. Support is not the duty of her son, it takes a village. This way we can assure that everyone is equally poor – or not poor if we could just get hold of some more revenue enhancements. We must put a stop to it! And this they did.

What has gone into them? Pomperipossa pondered in her dark corner. Are these really the wise men I so highly esteemed and admired? What are they trying to accomplish – a society as narrow-minded and impossible as possible? Oh, my pure blossoming Social Democracy of my youth, what have they done to thee, she thought (she started to become a little pathetic), how much longer shall your pure name be trod underfoot to protect a bureaucratic, unrighteous guardian state drunk with power? She had been led to believe that in a democratic society everybody’s rights were to be protected. People should not be punished and persecuted just because they by honest means – with or without their will –happened to make money. But this was, as far as Pomperipossa could understand, what was happening now. With pure destitution grinning square in her face, it was hard for her to see it any other way. What is this, she thought, a remarkable sour, jealous stench reeking  all over Monismania? And why is no one speaking up loudly: “This cannot stand, for then all industriousness in our beloved country will end and there will be no small business people left in our land to tax.”

And Pomperipossa took out and read over and over again a small poem, newly penned by one of the most highly regarded poets in all of Monismania:

Creating something of value causes envy. The community cries: no payola!

In the banal bickering of bureaucrats you must take part.

And help Comrade Castro carry out war in Angola,

Or face therapy nursing home style – you old fart,

At this time Pomperipossa felt a great need for therapy herself and that right now. For it was so hard and painful to be forced to doubt the society she up to now had seen as the best in the whole world.

The shadows grew longer around her, and once again she thought of the five thousand she would have to live on, if she really happened to make two million. Alas, poor me, she thought to herself, why could I not be just a welfare recipient without any trace of another income, how rich I would be compared to now! But then it hit her like a flash of lightning from a clear sky – woman, you must be able to go on welfare! Oh, blessed thought! With renewed hope she sat down to write to the chief tax master asking how much she would get. There, she said to herself, I knew there must a solution if I just thought long and hard enough! Is this, after all, not the best society in the world? Or…? Or is it not? This question is best left open, she thought.

So the welfare-supported Pomperipossa lived happily ever after. And she never, ever wrote any books again.

PS. Just before the deadline for publication Pomperipossa received a more exact calculation from the wise men’s department of revenue, that clearly explained that she would not get any 5 000 kronor to squander in riotous living. No, they said, if you make two million, our part is, hallelujah: Kronor 2 002 000 kronor. Then Pomperipossa decided to go out on the highways and byways to beg for enough money to buy an ever so small crowbar. Shake in your boots, wise men, she thought, increase the nightly security around your treasure chests! 5 000 I must have one way or another! If you can steal without scruples, so can I!

Text: Astrid Lindgren, March 1976  Translation, (with some paraphrasing and embellishments to better the understanding)© Lennart Bilén, 2009.