In the eighth year of the Shunzhi era (1651 AD), under the Qing Dynasty, Luo Zhonglin was promoted to lead the Province of Changzhou, today’s Jiangsu Province. Luo gained widespread respect for his unyielding morality, and for the acknowledgement of his virtuous responsibility.
Ending Bribery in the time of Taxation
A number of counties under his jurisdiction were being heavily taxed. Luo saw the injustice, and set out to change the policy. He concluded that the tax laws were overly complex, which allowed for bureaucrats to extort money from residents. Luo’s solution was to simplify the tax code and curb government red tape. The newly made transparent rules and regulations left no room for greedy officials to take bribes or abuse their position of power.
Each of the subordinate counties would previously have had to hand over 3,000 golden coins to the officials in charge of transportation along the canal, in order to gain access.
“If there is an extra profit of as much as 3,000 golden coins in each county, wouldn’t this come out of the pockets of the taxpayers?” Luo proclaimed.
He subsequently issued strict orders to prohibit this practice. None of the officials dared to take bribes any longer.
The following year, Luo’s province was hit hard by flooding. In response, he opened up government food warehouses and persuaded wealthy families to provide relief. Incredibly, no one in his jurisdiction had to leave town or become a refugee, thanks to his resourceful actions.
A year later, when drought spread heavily through his land. Luo put on coarse clothes and straw sandals. He marched on the parched land and prayed for rainfall, asking for forgiveness from heaven with tears streaming down his cheeks. He blamed himself for the lack of virtue, which had brought hardship to the people of his province.
Luo gained widespread respect for his unyielding morality, and for the acknowledgement of his virtuous responsibility.
When the Rains came
Luo Zhonglin took office as the county commissioner of Zhouzhi, today’s Shaanxi Province, in the sixteenth year of the Shunzhi era (1659 AD).
Shortly after, Kangxi, the longest reigning emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912 AD), came to power in 1662.
That summer, the Shaanxi area experienced devastating torrential rains, the Wei River overflowed its southern bank and was poised to flood the entire county.
In the face of the disaster, Luo fasted, bathed and prayed on his knees in the rain. Miraculously, the rain stopped. The current changed direction and made its way northwards by a couple of miles. The county was saved from the perilous flood.
Once again, Luo had understood his responsibility as the commissioner of the Province, and had taken it upon himself to bare the blame for the lack of virtue in the land. He was a man who fully acknowledged the moral and practical responsibilities his position held.
Adapted from History of Qing Dynasty, Volume 476, Biography 263, Honest Officials 1.