LETTER : Paine's law

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The Independent Online
NO LINK exists between Tom Paine's espousal of "education vouchers" in Rights of Man Part 2 and contemporary New Right ideologues such as Milton Friedman ("Vouchers rise from deathbed", 7 May).

In fact, Paine did not advocate "education vouchers" but direct lump sum transfer payments for relief of poor families' "distress" in rearing children (to the age of 14) and looking after the aged. Parents would be "enjoined" to send children to school for improving apprenticeship prospects. The payments, corresponding with the poor's remission from consumption taxes and replacement of the poor law (at a more generous rate), would largely be funded by culling patronage state bureaucracy and progressive property ("primogeniture") taxation of the wealthy.

This kind of progressive wealth redistribution and levelling would not be supported by the contemporary New Right.

Chris Lamb

Midsomer Norton, Bath