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Thomas Paine's Agrarian Justice, justifies some kind of social welfare.

This is what Thomas Paine, a founding father, observed about the condition of the Indian compared to the condition of the European.

"To understand what the state of society ought to be, it is necessary to have some idea of the natural and primitive state of man; such as it is at this day among the Indians of North America. There is not, in that state, any of those spectacles of human misery which poverty and want present to our eyes in all the towns and streets in Europe.
Poverty, therefore, is a thing created by that which is called civilized life. It exists not in the natural state. On the other hand, the natural state is without those advantages which flow from agriculture, arts, science and manufacturers.
The life of an Indian is a continual holiday, compared with the poor of Europe; and, on the other hand it appears to be abject when compared to the rich. Civilization, therefore, or that which is so called, has operated two ways: to make one part of society more affluent, and the other more wretched, than would have been the lot of either in a natural state.


TO PRESERVE the benefits of what is called civilized life, and to remedy at the same time the evil which it has produced, ought to be considered as one of the first objects of reformed legislation.
Whether that state that is proudly, perhaps erroneously, called civilization, has most promoted or most injured the general happiness of man, is a question that may be strongly contested. On one side, the spectator is dazzled by splendid appearances; on the other, he is shocked by extremes of wretchedness; both of which it has erected. The most affluent and the most miserable of the human race are to be found in the countries that are called civilized.

The first principle of civilization ought to have been, and ought still to be, that the condition of every person born into the world, after a state of civilization communities, ought not to be worse than it he had been born before that period."

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  • May 16 2013: Thomas Paine was a brilliant man but here i think his thoughts dont have full perspective. If he were here today he would think differently i bet. One thing to understand is that Paine was a huge pessimist and for much of his life he looked for greener pastures anywhere he could.
    • May 16 2013: I agree life has improved immensely for many more of us since Paine's time. Unfortunately wretched poverty is still a reality for third world countries. Its hard to argue with statistics and the statistics tell us that billions of us still suffer from lack of the basics- food, shelter, clean water.
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    • May 7 2013: I would argue that civilization causes the overpopulation. My definition of civilization is based on the means in which the society finds its food. It is called totalitarian agriculture. The culture of totalitarian agriculture at this time currently exists in approximately 99.98% of the world's human population. The general idea of totalitarian agriculture is that the world was made for man and man was ment to rule it, and as such turn all forms of food (animal and plant alike) into human food.
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        • May 7 2013: Well it is necessary to understand totalitarian agriculture to understand the difference between the two societies being compared. Thomas Paine, although unfamiliar with the modern term totalitarian agriculture, was observing its effects on society. He further explains:
          It is always possible to go from the natural to the civilized state, but it is never possible to go from the civilized to the natural state. The reason is that man in a natural state, subsisting by hunting, requires ten times the quantity of land to range over to procure himself sustenance, than would support him in a civilized state, where the earth is cultivated.
          When, therefore, a country becomes populous by the additional aids of cultivation, art and science, there is a necessity of preserving things in that state; because without it there cannot be sustenance for more, perhaps, than a tenth part of its inhabitants. The thing, therefore, now to be done is to remedy the evils and preserve the benefits that have arisen to society by passing from the natural to that which is called the civilized state.

          So by our passing from the natural to the civilized state we have made some people unbelievably wealthy and a lot more wretchedly poor. Thomas Paine and I, propose that any peroson born into the state of civilized living ought not be worse than if he had been born into the "primitive" or natural state of man.
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        • May 9 2013: Yes. And broad socialism does not work, you're right. But what about simply food security? Because civilized individuals cannot find sustenance from the land unless they own it and/or know how to cultivate it. So the mass of individuals born into a civilized society are at a disadvantage.
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        • May 9 2013: Remember I said 'justifies some social welfare.' I would reform food stamps so that everyone gets it and there is no administration to determine eligibility. I do not support welfare because the money can be spent on frivolous items.
  • May 6 2013: Wait I was told in Anthropology 101 that we have two ways of looking at primitive societies.
    1. The noble Savage.
    2. someone who is living in a backward state.
    Maybe reality is a little bit of both and a bit more.