Thomas Paine was not an accomplished man by any social means. In fact, he was a failure domestically, financially, and was academically unexperienced. Undoubtedly, he was the least likely candidate to ignite the spark to separate from Britain. Paine was human, and he recognized this. Common Sense was originally written anonymously when it was published in 1776. Not only did he recognize his humanity, he was courageous enough to confront the colonies of the shortcomings of their humanity as well. Despite his personal failings, he was pragmatic and passionate enough to point out the logical fallacies in the English constitution, and ultimately inspire the revolution of freedom.

What Paine outlined in Common Sense did more than placate his desire to promote freedom, or to stir up feelings of bitterness alone. His writings inspired a would-be nation into action. He begins the introduction by validating the premise of his writing. He states that conservatism is not presumed to be popular, and that the status quo, though not exactly wrong, will be thought to be right if given enough time. I believe, in regards to our current state of affairs, most in our country fall in line with this concept. Our government’s current methods are all we know. It does not take long for an ideology to take over a culture, and I hope to write in future postings about how radically our culture has changed in just one or two generations.

Paine believed that there was a better way to administer government, and he faithfully continues the pamphlet explaining why and how. He asserts that violence and abuse of power ushers the means to bring its virtue into question. In other words, when we witness injustice, we have a duty to examine it. America experienced abuse of power in spades (read the list of 27 offenses as outlined in the Declaration of Independence, or you can wait until I cover it in the future).

He begins the bulk of the pamphlet by defining and explaining the roles of society and government which he contends are very separate. Society is produced by our wants, and government is made a necessity by our wickedness. Society “… promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections… [government promotes our happiness] negatively by restraining our vices.” One makes patrons, the other, punishers.

He admits that government is a necessary evil. He poignantly states that when government makes us suffer miseries that should be found in nations without government, the general reaction is to “…furnish the means by which we suffer.” I don’t believe I am alone when I see the truth of this statement applied to our present day – be it socially, economically, or domestically. Our government which promises security and prosperity seems like it may never stop weaving a web of delayed collapse. I personally contend that the longer we delay in implementing true solutions to our problems, the more violent the consequences will be. Paine points out that the government which governs best does so by ensuring security at the least expense, and greatest benefit. Sounds an awful lot like frugality.

I plead for someone, anyone, provide any evidence of frugality in our government today.

I can wait.

In my view, any actual frugality in this country has been shifted to ethical businesses, individuals, and the family. As I hope to illustrate in the future, family is where government starts in the first place. There is a clear divide between the actions of the government, and the virtue of family. In my next post, I hope to explain how this disparity occurs, and the most logical way to avoid this pitfall.

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