More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

PostBy: jpete On: Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:53 am

Actually, this is from "Rights of Man". I'm hoping stockingfull and tvb can help me out here.

When, in countries that are called civilized, we see age going to the workhouse and youth to the gallows, something must be wrong in the system of Government. It would seem, by the exterior appearances of such countries, that all was happiness; but there lies hidden from the eye of common observation, a mass of wretchedness that has scarcely any other chance, than to expire in poverty or infamy. Its entrance into life is marked of its fate; and until this is remedied, it is in vain to punish.

Civil Government does not consist in executions; but in making that provision for the instruction of youth and the support of age, as to exclude, as much as possible, profligacy from the one and despair from the other. Instead of this, the resources of a country are lavished upon kings, upon Courts, upon hirelings, imposters and prostitutes; and even the poor themselves, with all their wants upon them, are compelled to support the fraud that oppresses them.

Why is it that scarcely any are executed but the poor? The fact is proof, among other things, of a wretchedness in their condition. Bred up without morals, and cast upon the world without a prospect, they are the exposed sacrifice of vice and legal barbarity. The millions that are superfluously wasted upon Governments are more than sufficient to reform those evils and to benefit the condition of every man in a Nation, not included within the purlieus of a Court. This I hope to make appear in the progress of this work.


Agree or disagree?

Is "more government" and more "social programs" the answer to all our problems?

Do we superfluously waste enough money yet or would you like government to continue compel support of obviously failed programs?

Simply put, when is "enough....enough"?

And to any others that claim the the time of the Founders was somehow "different" than today, can you honestly read this and say you are correct?

Sounds like this could be written about the USA or England today, or at any other time when Government gets too big(to fail?)
jpete
 
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Re: More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

PostBy: ErikLaurence On: Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:02 am

Paine is an interesting guy.

He also called for no standing military, progressive taxes on the wealthy (up to 100% tax rate), and huge estate taxes to prevent the creation of an hereditary aristocracy.
ErikLaurence
 
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Re: More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

PostBy: jpete On: Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:08 am

Technically, the Constitution calls for no standing military. Jefferson said "Standing Armies lead to taxes and taxes lead to tyranny."

I'm still working on his taxation ideas, especially the estate tax idea.

I have to reject everything I've been taught so that I might learn new things and in theory, I understand his concept. I'm just trying to figure out how it would work over time.

I'm not an anarchist, SOME government is required.

I'm just trying to pare it down to the least amount required for the lowest cost required. :D
jpete
 
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Re: More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

PostBy: ErikLaurence On: Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:16 am

His ideas on massive estate taxes were not about revenue generation, they were about assuring that men made their success based on their own qualities rather than on inherited advantages.
ErikLaurence
 
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Re: More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

PostBy: ErikLaurence On: Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:31 am

Want to really blow your mind?

Read Agrarian Justice..


http://www.thomaspaine.org/Archives/agjst.html
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.


Having thus in a few words, opened the merits of the case, I shall now proceed to the plan I have to propose, which is,

To create a national fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person, when arrived at the age of twenty-one years, the sum of fifteen pounds sterling, as a compensation in part, for the loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property:

And also, the sum of ten pounds per annum, during life, to every person now living, of the age of fifty years, and to all others as they shall arrive at that age.
ErikLaurence
 
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Re: More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

PostBy: jpete On: Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:54 am

This is the book I have.


http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Writings-Classics-Paperback-ebook/dp/B000QCTNIC/ref=sr_1_26?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260632527&sr=8-26
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.


It has "Common Sense", "Rights of Man", "The Crisis"(These are the times that try mens souls....), bits of "The Age of Reason" and the first part of "Agrarian Justice".

He seems to call for at least some portion of "welfare" for all, which I am generally opposed to. But that is just me trying to fit that one small idea into my understanding of the current flawed system. Due to the fact that I have never lived under any other system, I understand my difficulty with it.

Most of the OPEC states "spread the wealth" to their citizens. Residents of Alaska all get a small amount from the sale of oil so it's not NECESSARILY an "evil" concept.

I'm just trying to understand how Paine's ideas would work in Paine's IDEAL society.

I don't know if I posted it here or not but when Paine explains that "poverty" is a construct of "society", as compared with say the North American Indians, who had what they needed around them, and the freedom to get it, there was no poverty.

But the concept of "property rights" have necessarily eliminated an individuals freedom to get what they need in certain cases. For example, I need more coal, I can't just go down to PA and get all I can carry. Some person owns that property and I have no "right" to it without just compensation. Before property rights, I could, in fact, go take all I wanted or needed.

See my signature for more on that. And the more I learn, the less I'm apt I am to say that "ALL" government is bad. "Too much" government is bad. The question is, when is too much, too much?
jpete
 
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Re: More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

PostBy: ErikLaurence On: Sat Dec 12, 2009 12:11 pm

It's difficult to wrap modern labels around people from different eras.

If I had to, I'd say Paine was a small government socialist or a left leaning libertarian.

He would certainly hugely fail the purity test for republicans.

He was virulently anti religion.

He would find it hysterical (or appalling) that Glenn Beck has taken up his name as a rallying cry.
ErikLaurence
 
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Re: More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

PostBy: stockingfull On: Sat Dec 12, 2009 12:47 pm

I'm reading with great interest. Looks like Glenn Beck should be too. :D
stockingfull
 
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Re: More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

PostBy: jpete On: Sat Dec 12, 2009 12:59 pm

Glen Beck has NEVER spoken "for" me. I'd be willing to bet most people who quote Paine have never READ him.

So c'mon stocking, I've already exposed my jugular and admitted I'm on the fence here. :D

Why not explain your side of things and see if you can't sway me to the "big government cures everything" side? ;)
jpete
 
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Re: More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

PostBy: stockingfull On: Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:11 pm

Jeff, I'm as intrigued by these Paine snippets as you are. I take it that he endorsed taking it all away at death and redistributing it to young people coming up, while the elderly could retire and be taken care of.

Socialist? Sounds like it by today's metrics, don't it?

But remember, he was thinking and writing against the British system of baronage, where families owned whole towns and rented to their "commoners." It seems he equated the ability to grab and perpetually hoard wealth with the feudal and/or aristocratic systems, which many thought it was the purpose of the American Revolution to overthrow. After all, the original Tea Party wasn't about taxes, it was about taxation without representation. Put another way, it was about the notion that economic power could be held in the hands of a few, while everybody had to pay the tab.

Of course, this was way (like a century) before the days of the Rockefellers, Carnegies, Morgans, Goulds, Harrimans, Vanderbilts, etc, etc, on our shores.

What would Paine have written about them? Aren't there still "company towns"? What about the "Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation"? Wasn't the man who coined the term "A Thousand Points of Light" a self-described man "of (family) means," living high off the inherited wealth of his forebears?

So what was the original "American Dream," really? However much Americans ought to be "free to achieve," would Paine have countenanced the "free-market baronages" of our time?
stockingfull
 
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Re: More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

PostBy: rberq On: Sat Dec 12, 2009 3:13 pm

jpete wrote:Is "more government" and more "social programs" the answer to all our problems?
Do we superfluously waste enough money yet or would you like government to continue compel support of obviously failed programs?

My interpretation of the Paine excerpt was somewhat different from yours. I would agree with you that there are failed social programs that should be terminated. However, "more government" and "more social programs" are not necessarily the same thing. Paine's implicit question is, who is protected by the government, the few rich and powerful, or the many victimized poor and powerless?

Pension laws, for example (flawed though they are), are "more government" intended to assure that your wealthy employer actually funds the pension he has promised you. Food and drug regulation is "more government" intended to assure safe supplies of both. The interstate highway system is "more government" (or a social program?) intended to improve transportation of goods and people and improve commerce to the benefit of almost everyone. Public education is "more government" intended to make people useful and able to support themselves and be productive in society.

I would argue that we need MORE government in a lot of areas -- witness the recurring cycle of bank crises that have wracked our economy for many many years. The problem with "more government" is when it is a sham, when it is perverted by the powerful to give cover to their predatory behavior rather than to restrain it. Which brings us back around to what I think Paine was saying.
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Re: More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

PostBy: jpete On: Sat Dec 12, 2009 5:37 pm

stockingfull wrote:Jeff, I'm as intrigued by these Paine snippets as you are. I take it that he endorsed taking it all away at death and redistributing it to young people coming up, while the elderly could retire and be taken care of.



I'm not sure he wanted a complete liquidation of a deceased's estate. But some sort of a "death tax".

It is proposed that the payments, as already stated, be made to every person, rich or poor. It is best to make it so, to prevent invidious distinctions. It is also right it should be so, because it is in lieu of the natural inheritance, which, as a right, belongs to every man, over and above property he may have created, or inherited from those who did. Such persons as do not chuse to receive it can throw it into the common fund.

Taking it then for granted, that no person ought to be in a worse condition when born under what is called a state of civilization, than he would have been, had he been born in a state of nature, and the civilization ought to have made, and ought still to make, provision for that purpose, it can only be done by subtracting from property a portion equal in value to the natural inheritance it has absorbed.

Various methods may be proposed for this purpose, but that which appears to be the best...is at the moment that property is passing by the death of one person to the possession of another. In this case, the bequeather gives nothing: the receiver pays nothing. The only matter to him is that the monopoly of natural inheritance, to which there never was a right, begins to cease in his person. A generous man would not wish it to continue, and a just man will rejoice to see it abolished....


The plan here proposed will benefit all, without injuring any. It will consolidate the interest of the republic with that of the individual. To the numerous class dispossessed of their natural inheritance by the system of landed property, it will be an act of national justice. To persons dying possessed of moderate fortunes, it will operate as a tontine to their children, more beneficial then the sum of money paid into the fund: and it will give to the accumulation of riches a degree of security that none of the old governments of Europe, now tottering on their foundations, can give...


An army of principles will penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot-It will succeed where diplomatic management would fail-It is neither the Rhine, the Channel, nor the Ocean, that can arrest progress-It will march on the horizon of the world, and it will conquer.


I can't put my hands on the specific passages, but Paine was AGAINST "pensioners", those that retired with pay from the government. I'll have to dig them out.
jpete
 
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Re: More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

PostBy: KLook On: Sat Dec 12, 2009 5:53 pm

Our banking woes increased when it was nationalized. The gov was/is more corrupt then the banks that were in existance at the time. The Fed was set up by the Baron's alluded to above. You don't suppose they did it to benefit themselves do you? A classic case of the rich getting richer.

Kevin
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Re: More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

PostBy: tvb On: Sat Dec 12, 2009 5:57 pm

Sorry, Jeff, but I'm going to pass on this one for now as I don't consider myself enough of a Thomas Paine scholar to cogently debate his writings.
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Re: More "Common Sense" from Thomas Paine

PostBy: jpete On: Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:08 pm

Can you read what he wrote and form an opinion? I assure you I am quoting straight from the book.
jpete
 
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