What does this document mean?
The venerable elders of my home district explain that the reason grain is cheap despite poor harvests in recent years is due entirely to the scarcity of silver coin. The national government requires silver for taxes but disburses little silver in its expenditures. As the price of grain falls, tillers of the soil receive lower returns on their labors, and thus less land is put into cultivation. Thank you so much!
This is one of the documents from the DBQ on the 2006 AP Exam in World History. It is written by a government official as a report to the emperor. It seems to be trying to explain to the emperor the reasons for the lack of farm production in the official's area.
The DBQ asks you to look at the economic and social impact of flows of silver. Much of the flow was one-sided as silver flowed into China but did not leave. This particular document is showing that this influx did not really help the common person in China. The official is telling the emperor that the silver tends to stay with government instead of making its way down into the economy. Because of that, the common farmers do not get any benefit from all that silver that flows into China from Europe. Because the silver got "stuck" in the government, it did not help to develop China either economically or socially to any great extent.