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The Best Way to Stop Smuggling

Everyone knows that not all of the silver destined for Spain from the New World actually makes it to Spain. In 1602 the King of Spain was given an estimate of how much silver was loaded onto ships. Since the King knew how much arrived in Spain he could do the math... only one-eighth of the silver was making it to Spain. Very few people know exactly how much is being diverted now, but an Admiral once remarked that "The king of China could build a palace with the silver". The San Francisco Javier is one of these semi-legitimate smuggling ships. This year the ship will sink near Manila Bay. It's manifest is a matter of record. It says that the ship was carrying 418,323 pesos. When the ship is finally found centuries later, the divers will pull up 1,180,865 pesos. Apparently someone lied on the manifest... a whole lot. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Chinese were starving for silver and they had a lot of goods that the Spanish could buy cheap and sell in Europe for a lot more. The money was entirely too good for even the best of captains. Despite laws passed and good intentions of government officials, smugglers found ways to circumvent the port authorities. Why? Because buyers and sellers didn't agree with an attempt to manipulate market forces. It boils down to the fact that money and goods go where they can do the most good for the buyers and the sellers. Buyers and sellers will pay the taxes and follow the regulations as long it is not too painful but once breaking the law seems like the much easier path, the law goes out the window. Sometimes the best way to stop smuggling is to make it cheaper to obey the law than it costs to break it.

The First Jews Arrive in New Amsterdam

The Jews have fared better in the Netherlands than anywhere else in Europe, but "better" does not necessary translate as "good". Several hundred Jews immigrated to Dutch Brazil, but when the Dutch lose their colonies there, the colonists scatter to other Dutch holdings including New Amsterdam (which will someday be called New York). By the time they arrive, they are destitute, being reduced to asking for the charity of New Amsterdam. Unfortunately a government welfare program is non-existent and the Governor wants to expel these vagabonds. He checks with his bosses in the Dutch West India Company. Apparently, the Company can't stand the Jews either, but the Company is financed in part by Jewish money so the message is... Don't mess with the Jews, please. It's going to goof up our financing around here. [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
In those days the best way to survive as a Jew was to make one's self indispensable in certain jobs. Since Jews were banned from farming, they took jobs that few people wanted such as bill collecting and sales or jobs that few people understood such as banking and medicine. They were also advisers to the nobility. Thus they became valuable in critical jobs in society even though some Jews were clearly a burden such as the immigrants to New Amsterdam (New York). Jews didn't start coming to the New World in numbers until the mid-1800s. By law, the European Jews had been sequestered in ghettos. To be cast out of a ghetto was a virtual death sentence so the social pressure to conform was tremendous. When Europe freed the Jews in the mid-1800s, they ran to the main ports of the United States which were were Charleston, South Carolina and Houston, Texas. Only much later did Jewish immigration switch to New York City. [6] [7] [8]

A Forest in Flames and That's a Good Thing *

Edward Johnson (who I assume is the same fellow who founded Woburn, Massachusetts) remarks that the reason that the plains beyond the Mississippi are so well kept is because the Indians set fire to the forests on a regular basis. Indeed, the Indians do set fires regularly to clear out the dead brush and undergrowth that makes travel through a forest area so time consuming and difficult. The colonists see these forest fires as a virtue. One wonders how Edward Johnson knew what was happening beyond the Mississippi, but he did write the first history of New England which is published this year. [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Indians continued to do a lot of things like thinning out the brush, thinning out the herds and generally managing things. They did it for their own purposes but it helped the forest and general nature as well. The idea that "things should just happen naturally" is a bit of a cruel joke. What a person means by that is that if we just left well enough alone it would look like a park. Well... it won't look like a park. If you leave well enough alone, then herds of elk will starve to death "naturally" during winter. Before those starving elk die they will "naturally" strip the bark off of all the trees in an attempt to feed themselves and then the trees will "naturally" die. Those other animals that "naturally" live in a forest won't have a forest any more so they will "naturally" move on or die too. So, while I agree that human beings can be too intrusive at times, what comes naturally is often not very desirable for human beings, plants or animals.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1654, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (BOOK), Knopf. ISBN 9780307265722. “In 1654 the San Francisco Javier sank near Manila Bay. Its official manifest claimed that it carried 418,323 pesos. Centuries later, divers found 1,180,865 aboard. Even if one assumes, absurdly, that the divers found every last coin, the cargo was almost two-thirds contraband.” 
  2. Directory of Manila Galleon Voyages, 1565 through 1815. home.windstream.net (August 2006). Retrieved on 27 September 2015. “San Francisco Javier, shipwrecked in Samar, 19 October 1655”
  3. Samar - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 27 September 2015. “Samar was the first island of the Philippines sighted by the Spanish expedition of Ferdinand Magellan on 16 March 1521 after having left the Mariana Islands.”
  4. Misión San Francisco Javier de Viggé-Biaundó - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 27 September 2015. “The Spanish mission of San Francisco Javier was initially founded by the Jesuit missionary Francisco María Piccolo in 1699 at a spring called Biaundó by the native Cochimí, about 8 kilometers north of the mission's subsequent location.”
  5. Bernard Bailyn. The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600–1675. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 9780307960825. “Stuyvesant's request was rejected, and he was ordered not only to receive the Jews on the tolerant terms they enjoyed in Holland but to encourage them and their co-religionists to settle permanently in the colony.” 
  6. Alex Shrugged notes: For examples of Jewish ghettos see the movie Yentl (1983). Instead of looking at Barbara Streisand, look at what is going on around her. Those gates closing at sunset, are an example of the ghetto system.
  7. Yentl (1983). IMDb (1983). Retrieved on 27 September 2015. “A Jewish girl disguises herself as a boy to enter religious training.”
  8. Blau, Joseph Leon. Modern Varieties of Judaism: Lectures on the History of Religions. New York: Columbia University Press, 2-3. ISBN 0231028679. “The Jews provided, for much of Europe, an urban middle class of traders, bankers, and moneylenders. They eked out their own subsistence in the interstices of the economic life of Europe, resented, as the middle class always is, by the peasant lower class, and subject to the constant threat of extortion and expropriation by the upper class.” 
  9. Edward Johnson (founder of Woburn, MA) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 27 September 2015. “Johnson is regarded as the author of the first printed history of New England, The Wonderworking Providence of Sion's Savior in New England, which was published in England in 1654.”
  10. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (BOOK), Knopf. ISBN 9780307265722. “American forests, too, were shaped by flame. Indians' 'frequent fiering of the woods,' remarked English colonist Edward Johnson in 1654, made the forests east of the Mississippi so open and 'thin of Timber' that they were 'like our Parkes in England.'” 

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