12 Sep
Thomas Paine

Misunderstood By:

Libertarians, Glenn Beck.

Glenn Beck has recently found a soul mate in Thomas Paine, the Founding Father known for his Revolutionary War tract Common Sense. So much so that he’s gone so far as to rewrite Common Sense for the modern era, essentially stuffing words hand over fist into the mouth of a centuries-dead political philosopher for the soul-shriveling disgust Beck knows Paine would feel about Barack Obama.

Libertarians and tea partiers are so enamored by their new ideological BFF that they’ve taken to dressing up like him on YouTube and spouting off about the evils of taxation, weak foreign policy and too many brown people.

But Beck and his minions could probably benefit from actually reading some Thomas Paine. The guy whose 17th century ghost waxes emotional about 9/11 and congressional pay raises on the Internet is also responsible for these ideas:

“Pay as a remission of taxes to every poor family, out of the surplus taxes, and in room of poor-rates, four pounds a year for every child under fourteen years of age.” Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man.

Huh, that sounds like the child tax credit created under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, signed by. . .

“It is painful to see old age working itself to death, in what are called civilised countries, for daily bread… pay to every such person of the age of fifty years … the sum of six pounds per annum out of the surplus taxes, and ten pounds per annum during life after the age of sixty… This support, as already remarked, is not of the nature of a charity but of a right.” Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man.

An entitlement paying old people to support them for not working? That sounds like Social Security, passed by…

“There could be no such thing as landed property originally. Man did not make the earth, and, though he had a natural right to occupy it, he had no right to locate as his property in perpetuity any part of it.” Thomas Paine, Agrarian Justice.

It almost sounds like he’s about to say we should all share in the wealth or somethi-

“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.” Thomas Paine, Agrarian Justice.

Holy shit! That sounds a lot like…

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