A Plea for Change
Being a man of honor is an interesting thing. For nearly 30 years I have been a loyal servant to the throne. I am the second son to my father, Zhang Xiajie, Zhang Fu. My father was a teacher that was diligent and through generosity and good fortune able to amass a respectable sized property. I now own that property and make my living as a farmer and manager of land. As a young man, my father always taught me to follow a righteous path. In order to stay on this path, I was urged to maintain a standard of activity that is moral, legal, and ethical in all ways. To this end your highness; I have lived my life in every way that would bring honor to my family and glory to the ...view middle of the document...
While the circumstances surrounding the death of the official are suspect, I am not here to point the finger of blame for Zhao’s involvement. He is however guilty of other infractions.
My cousin is a loyal census taker and he was an important part of surveying the land in my region. During his last visit, we discussed some of the data that was collected, and to my surprise Zhao has been able to deceive the empire into believing that his holdings are not as great as they really are. I did not mention this to my cousin, but I know this for a fact. According to my cousin Zhao’s registered land is only about half of what I know him to have. This means that he is abusing the system to deceive the throne. His reasoning for this could be anything, but I am certain it is motivated by greed; as he wishes to afford a lower tribute. This may seem like little more than paranoia or propaganda, but I think it may more than that. I do not consider myself a scholar, but shouldn’t it be of some concern that many officials, even those of merit, will use their power to obtain land? By the same token, won’t they be able to gain power or control over the population by doing so? To this end I have a concern that he may mean to take political control of my region, something that I could surely live without.
I am not aware of any militia or standing military possessed by Zhao, but I do know that his influence is rising amongst the population. Before I mentioned that he did not attack me directly, yet he was able to hinder our ability to flourish as we have worked so hard to do. He has been luring my hired workers away from me with promises of greater pay and land. I can only assume that this land he speaks of is land that he hides in order to appear to have less than he really does. Personally, I am not opposed to a worker fetching a greater wage for an honest days work if he is able, but Zhao gives them more than a higher wage. On three occasions that I know of, he has tricked workers that were hired labor into serfs. While he may be the distant relative of an official and own land as though he was one, does that morally give him the right to own a serf?
Zhao is exploiting these workers and essentially deceiving them into becoming indentured servants. He offers them land in exchange for work and a percentage of the harvest, but the simple workers do not understand the math, or they are unable to meet the demands of the debt. As a result they become indebted to Zhao, and he is ready and willing to take advantage.
A friend of mine is one of these men. He was once a proud man who worked hard to keep his family fed. Now he only can play catch up, waiting for destiny to bring another drought and put him further in debt. I pray that you can possible help make change to this.
While I do speak of my friend specifically, I do have a concern for my fellow Chinese that are not as fortunate to be as stable as I am. This practice of serfdom is boiling down to be nothing...