On this July 4th, 2009, America is facing a crisis, though unlike the crisis she faced when the Quaker pamphleteer wrote "The Crisis" in 1776, the United States born out of that crisis faces ones of poverty, inequality, debt, under-education education, and tyrannical opposition to personal freedoms. Once again, these are the times that try men's souls.
First, the author of this article would like to underscore that he is aware of conservative movements to garner Paine as their own hero; recalling a forgotten American revolutionary and conjuring up the great man as a bastion of conversetuve ideals.
I say nay to the those who would paint the great Thomas Paine as a sympathizer with the cause of modern conservatism, and specifically I cast shame unto one Bob Basso, a man who is not a great pamphleteer who writes for the benefit of all mankind, but one who is a horrid jester, a propagator of lies, and performs for the musings of those who purposely contort Paine's spirit like so many decrepit whores.
I extend this condemnation also to Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, and all other similar manner of infinite intellectuals whose goal it is to willfully pervert the message and sprit of Paine through willful and calculated deception.
On the Liberalism of Thomas Paine
The conservatives who tout Paine's name today are the very ideological kin of those who defamed him over 220 years ago for rattling the cages of the establishment. They the kin of men such as Edmund Burke, as British Parliamentarian who condemned Paine's views of "The Rights of Man" in favor of ideals which conserved the political norm.
Indeed, in fact, in truth, and in all right, Thomas Paine is the kin of modern liberals. Not liberals such as William Jefferson Clinton or Harry Reid. No, I think he would have thought them to be too conservative in their actions and too dispassionate in their politics. Paine is the kin of liberals who are far more left than the nations acceptable upper echelon.
Paine would consider Franklin Delano Roosevelt as his brethren. Yes, the same man who conservatives love to hate, Paine would have had an acute sense of brotherhood towards. After all, it was FDR who established the national minimum wage of 25 cents in 1938. Furthermore, it was again FDR who implemented Social Security, an ideal which Paine was an advocate for in his 1796 work "Agrarian Justice."
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.
In his full throated defense of the French Revolution in "The Rights of Man," Thomas Paine also advocated free, universal education. He proposed that his social agenda be paid for through income tax, just as much of it is today.
While conservatives blast liberal policies that include universal healthcare, universal education, social security, and workers right due to the increasing national debt, Paine saw it differently. Paine praised national debt in first, and perhaps most famous pamphlet, "Common Sense":
The debt we may contract doth not deserve our regard if the work be but accomplished. No nation ought to be without a debt. A national debt is a national bond; and when it bears no interest, is in no case a grievance.
What was true in Paine's mind then is also true today. If America's bond is a well education population, free from the fear of debilitating, life threatening diseases that conventional HMOs refuse to cover, then it is worth every penny of debt that America incurs to provide that level of medical freedom.