There was once a grain farmer named John, who worked hard on his land and produced 10 tons of grain a year. His wife became annoyed with him, saying, the land was his mistress and that he did not pay enough attention to her.
She took their children and moved to the city.
John’s wife had no income and asked the city to support her because she had children to raise – she was given a house and money.
At the end of the season an officer from the city came to the farm and without asking took 3 tons of grain, telling John, it was to support his children.
The next day a tax collector arrived and inspected the farmer’s records and saw that the season’s production was 10 tons of grain. The tax collector took 3 tons of grain to satisfy the 30% grain tax.
John knew that he had to sell 6 tons of grain each season for his business to survive, but he had only 4 tons left to sell. He complained bitterly to both the officer of the city and the tax collector, telling them he would soon be out of business if this was to continue, but neither would listen.
John was soon bankrupt and his assets were given to his creditors. The once successful farmer became a worker on the land he had previously managed.
Now a labourer, John was careful with his earnings and gave the tax man a payment each week. He did not want trouble with the tax man. He had once seen the tax man pick up a stone and it had dripped blood.
At the end of the next season the officer of city came and demanded another 3 tons of grain from John. John told the officer that he no longer had any grain, but the officer told John, that last year he had provided 3 tons of grain, and so he must hand over the same this year.
John complained, telling the officer he was now a labourer not a farmer. The officer did not listen and instead told John for every day he did not produce the required amount of grain a penalty would be added but the officer would not say what the penalty would be.
John told the officer he was still a bankrupt after losing his business and that his debts would be forgiven in time.
Not this debt; this is a debt on your life, the officer told John.
John soon realised that he had no longer had any future; he would never be able to earn enough to pay this debt to the city.
He had heard of another city nearby, so he decided to leave his homeland and try to start a new life, but as he was leaving he was stopped at the border by the officer of the city.
You have a debt on your life and you cannot leave the officer told John.
I am a citizen and you cannot stop a citizen travelling, John told the officer.
You are not a citizen while you have a debt on your life the officer told John.
If I’m not a citizen I must be a resident, John told the officer.
You’re neither, the officer told John.
“Well if I’m not a citizen or a resident, what is my status,” asked John.
‘Best you get back to work, the penalties are adding up,’ said the officer of the city.
The continuing story of John the Grain Farmer.