Sunday, 7 November 2010

I guess you'd call this the 'contractual' principle

"SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer! Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others"

I'm sure I don't need to tell you all, that is Common Sense from Thomas Paine.


Mark Wadsworth said...


Thomas Paine being of course the first person to suggest imposing land value tax and dishing out the proceeds as a Citizen's Income.

Government is the ultimate authority in deciding who 'owns' land, i.e. excluding others from it - but as one man's gain is another man's loss, any injustice or mis-distribution of wealth that arises from land 'ownership' would be completely cancelled out by means of money payments in the other direction.

Trooper Thompson said...

I think I prefered him when he was just stirring up trouble :)

Anonymous said...

"Thomas Paine being of course the first person to suggest imposing land value tax"

Everyone is allowed one mistake.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Anon, ha ha, brilliant. Not.

There's a simple choice - hand over the location rent to land owners and let them enslave you in rent or let the bank enslave you in mortgage repayments. While being crippled with VAT, income tax etc just for good measure. The proceeds of these taxes being then used to improve the state of the country (however inefficiently) on which you have to pay yet more rent etc.

Or.... just have land value tax and dish it out as a Citizen's Income, that way nobody enslaves anybody. You keep every penny you earn, and if you want to live somewhere nice, you pay a bit extra - if you're happy to live somewhere not so nice, you pay net nothing in tax or rent at all, to nobody. That's the nearest you'll ever get to a tax free world.