Regulation of salt production and trade
Throughout history the universal need for salt has made it an easy activity for government to monopolize and tax. Salt taxes often supported a major share of national budgets though they led to popular discontent and smuggling and provided an organizing grievance for political opponents to the regime. Salt monopolies raised consumer prices and facilitated levying high taxes which, in turn, led to political turmoil. From one Chinese dynasty to the next, China’s emperors filled their coffers with high taxes levied on the salt industry they monopolized. The infamous gabelle precipitated the French Revolution and Mahatma Ghandi’s challenge to colonial Britain’s salt tax in India was the pre-eminent act of civil disobedience that rallied his countrymen to demand – and achieve – independence.