Sunday, July 25, 2010

Paine, taxation and redistribution

In reply to a correspondent and friend on:

Thanks for the note, S. The point, it seems
to me, is that here (Rights of Man II) we have
Paine recommending a confiscatory tax above a
certain income level -- £23,000/annum. The currency
calculator that I used indicated that in so-called real
dollars today 2010 that would translate to a bit over 3 million.

1792 is only midpoint in Paine's public career
and he's already moved beyond Adam Smith and
embraced the need for redistribution of wealth
and power. Midpoint in his career. He still has Agrarian Justice
and Dissertation on First Principles of Government
to write -- both of which discuss the dangers of and
potential remedies to the property and capital system-- and
his even later eight Letters to the Citizens of the United
States where he condemned monopoly,
undue corporate influence, usury, military
procurement fraud and the whole host of
predatory pests that plagued the young republic
and plague still its ever thinning shadow.

Paine embraced commerce as a visible representation
of what he called "society" or man's greatest blessing.
But he was no libertarian.

"... when property is made a pretense for unequal or exclusive rights,
it weakens the right to hold the property, and provokes indignation
and tumult; for it is unnatural to believe that property can be secure
under the guarantee of a society injured in its rights by the
influence of that property." Thomas Paine - Dissertation on First Principles of Government, 1795.


--
© Kenneth W. Burchell 2010, All Rights Reserved

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