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The 'Single Whip Law' of China *

Corruption has plagued the Chinese tax system so they have passed a law that centralizes and consolidates those functions so that there is a consistent tax method across the land. The name of this new law is "The Single Whip Law." Single Whip is a marshal arts term. It is a stance that is leaning forward with an arm forward for defense and an arm held back to hide the striking blow. (Golly! Nothing implied by that. Is there?) Aside from the desire for efficiency, this law allows for the importation of silver from the New World and a change in how taxes are figured on domestic mining operations. This causes a dramatic increase in the taxes collected from Chinese mining operations, or at least the REPORTING increases because wildcat miners figure it is cheaper to pay the tax than it is to dodge the authorities. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Chinese government assumed that silver would never lose its value, but after the silver market fell, people were paying their taxes with devalued silver that wouldn't buy what it used to buy but did work great for their tax obligation. The Single Whip Law didn't stop the corruption either. It simply traded a lot of petty corruption for centralized MAJOR corruption. Remember in 1995 after Gulf War 1, the United Nations established the Oil-for-Food Program allowing Iraq to sell oil to certain approved companies in exchange for food and essential medical aid. This program turned into a kickback scheme that netted Saddam Hussein 10 billion dollars. UN officials and the various companies made out like bandits... because they WERE bandits. The subsequent investigation resulted in stern warnings to public officials, suspended sentences and a few missing people. I don't recall anyone at the UN being fired. [4] [5]

A Fireball in Thuringia

A mighty fireball streaks through the sky and crashes into the countryside of Thuringia which is a province in central Germany. Scientists on the scene find the meteorite. (There is a college nearby.) This event appears in the Catalogue of Meteorites and Fireballs and according to the charts it was verified as a single stoney object weighing 39 pounds. [6] [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I mention this ball of fire from space because I'm reading a science fiction novel based on the premise that an entire West Virginia coal mining town of present day is suddenly picked up whole and moved to the countryside of Thuringia. They are also moved back in time to the year 1632. The heroes of the story are the United Mine Workers of America and two Sephardic Jews. (Those are Spanish Jews.) It is a survival subject since they must figure out how to maintain power for the town, work out defense and also figure out how to plant crops and eat. From a survival standpoint its a tricky problem. It is also a fun read: "1632" by Eric Flint. [9]

Siberia is Conquered by Dummies and Clever Cossacks

Yermak Timofevitch is a Cossack. He is also a rabble-rouser, a thief, and general nuisance. He is only good for one thing... conquering Siberia. Gregory Strogonof has been granted some land west of the Ural mountains but he sees great potential in the east. He just needs help to conquer it. Gregory gets the Tzar to pardon Yermak on the condition that he conqueror Siberia. Yermak gathers 800 of the best highway robbers, prisoners and ne'er-do-wells, arms them with muskets and sets out in 1579. It goes well until Kuchum Khan sets a trap for them. The Khan draws a heavy chain across the river, hoping to catch the Cossack boats and ambush them. The boats come down the river, but they aren't filled with Cossacks. They are filled with dummies. Yermak has already come ashore, outflanks the Khan's superior forces and drives them out of their capital city of Tobolsk. This is just the first probe into Siberia. It will take several years to reach the Bearing Sea. Before then, Yermack will die of drowning trying to escape an ambush by swimming the river while wearing his armor. [10] [11] [12]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Let's say that some of this sounds like BS. While it's true that most of the inhabitants in Siberia had little more than Stone Age technology, the Khan's 30,000 troops could do a lot of damage with bows, arrows, and spears at their disposal. While it is possible for a small force of 800 men to surprise and possibly take a city from such a large force, it is not possible to hold a city for very long. Only the onset of winter saved them. Yermak knew he had bitten off more than he could chew so he sent for reinforcements from Moscow. He also sent a boatload of furs to encourage the patriotism of his fellows.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1581, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Gernet, Jacques (1996). A History of Chinese Civilization, translated by Foster, J. R. and Hartman, Charles (in English), Cambridge University Press, 415-416. “It must therefore be accepted that the amount of silver in circulation increased considerably during the course of the fifteenth century. This is probably explained by the clandestine trade with Japan, the main exporter of silver, and by the progress in local production. But this transformation of the economy was to be accentuated at the end of the sixteenth century with the influx of silver from America [...]” 
  2. Single whip - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “Typically at the end of the posture the left hand is in a palm outward push and the right hand held most commonly in the form of a hook or closed fist.”
  3. Single whip law - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “The unit of tax collection was changed from rice to silver, which led to an increase in the import of silver into China from Spain-controlled America and Japan. Because of the sheer amount of silver being imported into China, inflation occurred until the silver taxpaying system was no longer sustainable.”
  4. Oil-for-Food Programme - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “Contracts to sell Iraq humanitarian goods through the Oil-for-Food Programme were given to companies and individuals based on their willingness to kick back a certain percentage of the contract profits to the Iraqi regime. Companies that sold commodities via the Oil-for-Food Programme were overcharging by up to 10%, with part of the overcharged amount being diverted into private bank accounts for Saddam Hussein and other regime officials and the other part being kept by the supplier.”
  5. Investigate the United Nations Oil-for-Food Fraud. heritage.org (2015). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “Saddam's dictatorship was able to siphon off an estimated $10 billion from the Oil-for-Food program through oil smuggling and systematic thievery, by demanding illegal payments from companies buying Iraqi oil, and through kickbacks from those selling goods to Iraq--all under the noses of U.N. bureaucrats. The members of the U.N. staff administering the program have been accused of gross incompetence, mismanagement, and possible complicity with the Iraqi regime in perpetrating the biggest scandal in U.N. history.”
  6. A Catalogue of Meteorites and Fireballs, from A.D. 2 to A.D. 1860 by R.P. Greg, Esq., F.G.S. MeteoriteHistory.info (2011). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “1581.* - July 26 - Thuringia - 39 lbs. - ... - 1 1/2 P.M. - ditto;[meaning "Stone-fall" -ed.] one stone.”
  7. A Catalogue of Meteorites and Fireballs, from A.D. 2 to A.D. 1860. MeteoriteHistory.info (2011). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “Note.--Wherever the words 'Stone-fall' or 'Iron-fall' occur, it may be understood, as a rule, that such phenomenon was also accompanied by a detonating fireball, or at least by a detonation.”
  8. meteorite - definition of meteorite. The Free Dictionary (2015). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “A stony or metallic mass of matter that has fallen to the earth's surface from outer space.”
  9. 1632. Baen. ISBN 0671578499. 
  10. Russian conquest of Siberia. TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY (2013). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “They realized too late that the boats were filled with dummies: Yermak's men were already ashore, attacking the Tatars in the rear. In the battle that followed the Tatars failed to make the most of their superiority in numbers and manoeuvrability, and they were overcome by Cossack fire power.”
  11. Alexis Krausse (October 25, 1900). "2. THE ABSORPTION OF SIBERIA", Russia in Asia; a record and a study, 1558-1899. Henry Holt and Company. “Strogonof, who knew these men, and appears to have obtained some influence over them, approached their leader, one Yermak Timofevitch, and obtained for him the pardon of the Tsar on condition that he agreed to take service under him in his forthcoming campaign.” 
  12. Yermak Timofeyevich - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 26 May 2015. “After the takeover of Kazan, the tsar looked to the powerful and affluent Stroganov merchant family to spearhead the eastward expansion. In the late 1570s, the Stroganovs recruited Cossack fighters to invade Asia on behalf of the tsar.”

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