What Glenn Beck Doesn’t Know About His Hero Thomas Paine

Our guest blogger is John Halpin, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and co-author of “The Power of Progress: How Progressives Can (Once Again) Save Our Economy, Our Climate, and Our Country.”

During his Fox News show yesterday, Glenn Beck declared that the members of his radical blackboard — including various Obama administration officials, SEIU, ACORN, and Center for American Progress CEO John Podesta — all support “social justice, environmental justice, REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH!” Watch it:

Beck says he gathers his inspiration from political philosopher Thomas Paine. The title of Beck’s bestselling book is Glenn Beck’s Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine. Think Progress has unearthed startling evidence that Paine also held radical notions about social justice and wealth redistribution.

In his 1796 tract, Agrarian Justice, Paine writes:

It is a position not to be controverted that the earth, in its natural, cultivated state was, and ever would have continued to be, the common property of the human race. In that state every man would have been born to property. He would have been a joint life proprietor with rest in the property of the soil, and in all its natural productions, vegetable and animal.

Paine then goes on to claim that in order for the dispossessed to earn their rightful part of this common inheritance, it is necessary to charge wealthy landowners ground-rent that would be used to…

[C]reate 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.

By the iron-clad logic of the blackboard, these associations can only mean one thing about Glenn Beck. Who will tell the people?