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Too Much Silver Limits Spending in the Ottoman Empire

Janissary soldiers are young Christian slaves trained with strict discipline to be Turkish special forces. They are so good, that they are paid a salary and they have their own pension plan. (Promotional brochures on demand. Please drop by the recruiting office.) Without putting too fine a point on it.... they are carrying guns and they know how to use them really, really well. You don't want them unhappy and this year they are officially UNHAPPY. Silver coming from the New World has caused inflation, but taxes and salaries are not adjusted for inflation. The soldiers are risking their lives for pennies on the dollar and the government is not taking in enough revenue to pay for the increased price of everything. Rebellions are springing up. Eventually things will settle down but this has stopped the rapid expansion of the Ottoman Empire. To save money they will hire mercenaries as needed and as they can afford it. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
When the US Constitution was written, it was well known that government spending had to be restrained, so they limited tax revenues to tariffs and excise taxes on booze and such. They believed that a smaller pool of money would force competing interests to cooperate. That was supposed to be a big fight with few winners. It also meant fewer wars or at least shorter wars since every dollar spent on war was one less dollar spent on that farmers aid package. But Prohibition cut off a major source of tax revenue so the government replaced it with an income tax. When Prohibition was repealed (so to speak) the tax on booze returned but the income tax never went away. The income tax supplies the government with an enormous pool of money and it adjusts to inflation, pushing tax payers into higher and higher brackets as salaries rise to match higher prices. The government will NEVER give up this system voluntarily. That train has left the station. There is just too much money involved and too few people deciding what to do with it. We are heading for that big bend in the track at 100 miles an hour. I sure hope a rock doesn't hit us. [3]

When Fighting for Your Rights Goes Wrong

In England, Catholics are skipping the Anglican services and praying at home. These Catholics must pay a fine for a lack of attendance. Since most of the English Catholics are submitting to the fine, Queen Elizabeth the 1st remained hopeful that the Catholics would eventually be drawn to the Anglican church.... that is, until Catholics missionaries from the Continent (meaning Europe) arrived in England to convert the Protestants. They do so in such a public manner, even setting up their own printing press and distributing pamphlets criticizing the Queen. The English Catholics are not going along with the Continental Catholics and their confrontive ways. At the Siege of Smerwick, Ireland, Catholic forces made up of Italian and Spanish soldiers are forced to surrender unconditionally. When the English Army enters the town, 600 Catholics are executed. By next year the English parliament will call for a law to make the practice of Catholicism high treason. [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
During the civil rights movement of the 1960s there was a push to get black people registered to vote. Many Southern white people were trying to discourage them by blowing up churches. A KKK bomber came to Mississippi to blow up the president of the local synagogue. (I think that was in Jackson, Mississippi.) The sheriff caught the bomber as he was coming across the lawn. There were a lot of good Christians in the South who were willing to help out black people and Jews. I'm not just saying that or hoping that. I know that. My point is that it may seem brave (and often it is) to come swooping in from out of town, lead a protest, and then leave. Just remember that there are people left behind who must live with the consequences of your actions. [6]

Further comments (optional): I am old enough to have cycled through several polite labels for black people such as "colored," "black," "American African," and "African American." This last one seems oddest of all. I know Africans, FROM AFRICA, who are white. Secondly I remember watching TV news coverage of a riot in England. The newsman wanted to say, "African-Americans are running down the street" but he couldn't. They were English. Were they African-Anglos? Black-Brits? I just don't care any more.

60 Years in a Fog: Portugal is Annexed by Spain *

The young King Sebastian the 1st of Portugal has disappeared. It is believed he has been killed in battle but without a body, the rumors persist that he is simply lost and will one day reappear out of the fog. (Really. I'm not kidding.) He has no heir so there is a fight for the throne. There are even people who come forward claiming to be King Sebastian himself. Finally, the King of Spain, Phillip the 2nd, takes the throne for himself and joins the crowns of Portugal and Spain. It is a more-or-less peaceful annexation. His claim to the throne is reasonable (as reasonable as any other claimant) and he is the big dog in this hunt. Portugal will remain as a separate state within Spain but for the next 60 years they will be in decline. [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
During his reign, King Sebastian had set up communal granaries for the poor. These granaries provided loans, and seeds so that the poor could grow their own food. (Imagine that! Helping yourself out of poverty by the sweat of your own brow. The poor were expected to pay the loans back once they were productive again. It seems to me there are two kinds of poor: those who are disabled due to illness or injury and those able-bodied poor who, due to circumstances or plain laziness, need a jump-start (or a swift kick in the backside) to get going again. In the Bible, the poor came to the fields and walked behind the harvesters picking up whatever they dropped or missed. The charity of the Bible required some work. [10]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1580, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. (1970) The Cambridge History of Islam: The Further Islamic Lands, Islamic Society and Civilization (BOOK), P. M. Holt (editor), Ann K. Lambton (editor), Bernard Lewis (editor), Cambridge University Press, 377-379. ISBN 9780521076012. “These infantrymen needed to be paid in cash, thus costing more money than the central treasury possessed. One way of augmenting revenues was to transform tīmārs, which yielded the central treasury no income, into tax-farms, which regularly brought in hard cash. Costs were cut at the same time by hiring mercenaries for single campaigns only.” 
  2. Murad III - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 February 2015. “By 1580 an influx of silver from the New World had caused high inflation and social unrest, especially among Janissaries and government officials who were paid in debased currency.”
  3. Federal investigators unsure anything hit Amtrak train before crash. Associated Press (May 18, 2015). Retrieved on 21 May 2015. “The National Transportation Safety Board said it has not ruled out the possibility an object may have struck the windshield but is uncertain the locomotive was hit at all before the May 12 derailment, which killed eight people and injured more than 200 others.”
  4. Siege of Smerwick - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 21 May 2015. “The defenders eventually surrendered and most of them were then massacred on the orders of the English commander, the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Arthur Grey.”
  5. The Age of Reason Begins: A History of European Civilization in the Period of Shakespeare, Bacon, Montaigne, Rembrandt, Galileo, and Descartes: 1558-1648, The Story Of Civilization. Simon and Schuster. “The royal Council calculated some fifty thousand such 'recusants' in England (1580). Anglican bishops complained to the government that Mass was being said in private homes, that Catholicism was emerging into public worship, and that in some ardent localities it was unsafe to be a Protestant.” 
  6. The 'Mississippi Burning' Case - Civil Rights Movement. about.com (December 16, 2014). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “A civil rights movement in 1964, named Freedom Summer, was a campaign launched to get African Americans in the southern United States registered to vote. Thousands of students and civil rights activists, both white and black, joined the organization, Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and traveled to southern states to register voters. In was in this atmosphere that three civil rights workers were killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan.”
  7. Words from History (PDF), Books on Words, Houghton Mifflin. “In fact, except for a 60-year period of absorption by Spain, from 1580 to 1640, it has retained its boundaries completely unchanged for seven centuries.” 
  8. Portuguese succession crisis of 1580 - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 24 February 2015. “As Sebastian had no immediate heirs, this event prompted a dynastic crisis, with internal and external battles between several pretenders to the Portuguese throne; in addition, because Sebastian's body was never found, several impostors emerged over the next several years claiming to be the young king, further confusing the situation. Ultimately, Philip II of Spain gained control of the country, uniting the Portuguese and Spanish Crowns in the Iberian Union, a personal union that would last for 60 years, during which time the Portuguese Empire declined.”
  9. Sebastian of Portugal - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “He disappeared (was presumably killed in action) in the battle of Alcácer Quibir. Sebastian I is often referred to as The Desired, for the Portuguese people longed for his return, to end the decline of Portugal that had occurred because of his death.”
  10. Ruth 2 - NIV. Bible Study Tools (2015). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “2 And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, 'Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.' Naomi said to her, 'Go ahead, my daughter.' 3 So she went out and began to glean in the fields behind the harvesters.”

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