Thomas Paine

In the winter of 1795-96 Thomas Paine wrote his last great pamphlet, "Agrarian Justice." The pamphlet was first published in French in Paris. An English edition was brought out in 1797.

In this pamphlet Paine advocated the creation of a social insurance scheme for the aged and for young people just starting out in life. The benefits were to be paid from a national fund accumulated for this purpose. The fund was to be financed by a 10% tax on inherited property. A tax on inherited property was used due to Paine's general philosophy of property rights. Although he based his social insurance scheme on a line of argument that might sound quaint in the present era, in other respects his plan was quite modern, recognizing the problem of income security for the elderly, and the desirability of creating a national fund for this purpose.

cover of Paine's plan

The full text of Paine's pamphlet.