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Chapter 32

Chapter 32: Does This Stuff Work?

Zhu Yuanzhang’s face flushed when he heard Li Fan’s words. No man would admit to being weak, even if they were.

Hastily shaking his head, he said, “How could that be? It’s just a bit hot today!”

After speaking, he unbuttoned one of his garments, flashed a confident smile, and said, “See, I’m not hot anymore after unbuttoning!”

Seeing Zhu Yuanzhang’s stubborn appearance, Li Fan’s lips curled into a wicked smile. He thought, “Stubborn old fool!”

Passing by the study, he grabbed a bottle from the drawer and handed it to Zhu Yuanzhang, saying with a smile, “Take this half an hour before the deed!”

Zhu Yuanzhang looked at the bottle in his hand, disbelief written all over his face. Swallowing nervously, he muttered under his breath, “Does it really work?”

Seeing Zhu Yuanzhang’s cautious demeanor, Li Fan patted his shoulder. This bottle of medicine was obtained from a previous system lottery draw. Since he was robust and healthy, he had no use for it. But seeing Zhu Yuanzhang’s apparent weakness, he decided to give it to him first. With a smile, he said, “Take out the ‘if’ and with this stuff, even if you have several concubines, there won’t be any problems! Try it tonight, and you’ll see!”

Zhu Yuanzhang looked at Li Fan in disbelief, still somewhat skeptical. However, it had been a long time since he had had any offspring. Many of the palace concubines, delicate and lovely as they were, were still virgins. As he grew older, he found it harder to perform, despite the efforts of the imperial physicians. His body was not as strong as it used to be. Tonight, he would try this medicine to see if it worked. Clearing his throat, he tucked the bottle into his robes and said, “If it truly works, I will certainly reward you!”

Li Fan chuckled and gave him a knowing look. Then, he led Zhu Yuanzhang to the pavilion. As they walked, he said, “I know you’re worried about business matters. Now that you’re the empress’s brother-in-law, a true member of the imperial family, you should be bolder, take bigger steps. As they say, fortune favors the bold. Work hard, and in three years, you’ll be the richest man in Ming!”

Zhu Yuanzhang was uplifted by Li Fan’s inspiring words, but he couldn’t shake off the discomfort caused by his policy of prioritizing agriculture and suppressing commerce. He had approached Li Fan to understand how he could truly benefit the people, focusing on their welfare. Anxiously, he asked, “I want to know how we can truly prioritize agriculture, suppress commercial activities, and promote the welfare of the farmers!”

Li Fan looked at Zhu Yuanzhang, puzzled by his question. It seemed like something he shouldn’t be involved in, and there seemed to be some conflict with the situation.

Li Fan immediately asked, “Old Zhu, how do you think farmers can live a good life?”

Without hesitation, Zhu Yuanzhang replied, “With good weather and bountiful harvests!”

Li Fan looked at the naive Zhu Yuanzhang and chuckled, “I didn’t expect you to be so childish. Thinking that abundant harvests alone can ensure a good life for the people! Let me tell you, the better the weather, the harder life gets for the people!”


Zhu Yuanzhang looked at Li Fan in shock, unable to understand his meaning. Why was what Li Fan said so different from what he knew? Especially regarding bountiful harvests, didn’t they make life better for the farmers? What was Li Fan talking about?

He asked in confusion, “With bountiful harvests, won’t the people have surplus after paying taxes? Won’t they be able to live well?”

Li Fan sighed, seeing that Zhu Yuanzhang didn’t understand anything. He patiently explained, “The concept is quite simple. After a region has a bountiful harvest, the court will collect taxes based on the actual yield. The peasants pay a third of their crops as taxes, a third as rent, and keep the remaining four-thirds for themselves.”

Zhu Yuanzhang nodded vigorously, understanding this simple concept. “Having four-thirds of the crops after a bountiful harvest is quite good!”

Li Fan could only continue to explain helplessly, “Because of transportation issues and the government’s policy of suppressing commerce, the local crops cannot be transported out of the area. They can only be consumed within the county or prefecture. Local grain merchants will then lower the prices, some even to half or a third of the original price. When grain prices drop, it harms the farmers, as they have no other source of income. They have no choice but to sell their grain at low prices, making their lives even more difficult! If a disaster strikes the following year, the people will be unable to cope!”

Zhu Yuanzhang looked at Li Fan in shock. It was the first time he had heard such words. He used to believe that lower grain prices were better, as they meant the people could afford to eat. But now, it seemed that the situation was not so simple. Li Fan’s explanation made him realize that. Seeing Zhu Yuanzhang furrowing his brows, Li Fan knew that he must be a businessman who cared about the country and the people.

Looking at the calm lake, Li Fan sighed and said helplessly, “The reason I want to vigorously develop commerce is to help the people move away from relying solely on agriculture. I don’t want them to spend their entire lives toiling in the fields, barely making ends meet, and having to sell their children during times of disaster. You may not know, but the entire Ming Dynasty is about to enter a turbulent era. Liu Bowen traveled throughout the Ming Dynasty, cutting off all the dragon veins, resulting in frequent disasters everywhere. So, there won’t be the kind of good days you mentioned!”

Zhu Yuanzhang looked at Li Fan’s lonely figure and couldn’t help but feel melancholic. This wasn’t the first time he had heard such words. Zhang Zongbao had mentioned this issue before, and now Li Fan brought it up again. He began to worry. If what Li Fan said was true, then the Ming Dynasty wouldn’t have any good days ahead. Feeling anxious, he asked, “Are what you’re saying true?”

In fact, since the Yuan Dynasty, the whole world has entered a period of Little Ice Age, with frequent disasters such as floods in the south, droughts in the north, and frequent earthquakes. The average temperature has also been decreasing, and crop yields have been declining. Life has become even more difficult for nomads on the grasslands, leading to more invasions from the north, including the Mongols, the Tatars, the Uyghurs, and the Jurchens.

Initially, the Ming Dynasty was strong enough to resist, but later it couldn’t hold on. However, such words cannot be said, and no one will believe them. It’s just blaming Liu Bowen.

Turning to look at Zhu Yuanzhang, Li Fan spoke with a serious expression, “Do you think I need to joke about this?”


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Collecting Taxes as a Corrupt Official During the Hongwu Reign, Taxed up to 2050

Collecting Taxes as a Corrupt Official During the Hongwu Reign, Taxed up to 2050

Status: Ongoing Author: Native Language: Chinese
During the Hongwu era of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang received multiple reports that Li Fan, the county magistrate of Fengyang, was extorting excessive taxes and living off the state while the people suffered. This top scholar, personally appointed by the emperor, had his integrity questioned, prompting Zhu Yuanzhang to investigate personally. Li Fan was accused of blocking roads to collect tolls, arbitrarily imposing harsh taxes, paying lip service while disobeying imperial orders, inventing excuses, and extorting excessive taxes. Tax collection had become so excessive that it felt like it had continued into the year 2050. The people of the Ming Dynasty had become impoverished, raising concerns about their ability to live well. Zhu Yuanzhang: Today we will execute this treacherous official Li Fan. I doubt the Ming Dynasty can last two thousand years with such corruption. Empress Ma: Li Fan is a crucial minister of the state! Ensuring the continuity of the Ming Dynasty for two thousand years! Zhu Biao: Father, Li Fan only collects taxes from the wealthy, allowing the common people to live in peace and prosperity! Zhu Di: Father, Li Fan helped me defeat the Franks and said we should collect taxes for five thousand years first!


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