Duke Ai asked Youzi, “We’ve had a famine this year and there aren’t enough revenues to run the state. What should I do?”

Youzi replied, “How about a 10% tax, as the Zhou used to levy?”

Duke Ai replied, “I can’t even get by on a 20% tax! How could I manage on 10%?”

Youzi said, “If the people have enough, you’ll have enough. But if the people don’t have enough, how can you expect to have enough?”


In the state of Chen, they ran out of food, and the students became so exhausted they could no longer stand.

Resentfully, Zilu asked, “Must a noble person suffer through such a mess?”

Confucius replied, “Yes, a noble person may find themselves in circumstances like this, but it’s only the small person that can’t withstand it.”