Social Solutions to Poverty:
America's Struggle to Build a Just Society
A book by Scott Myers-Lipton


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 Inheritance Tax




Several early nineteenth-century writers put this unjust distribution of wealth into the context of the American Revolution. Wilson Pierson and George Mc-Farlan, two members of the Association of Working People, lamented the fact that the poor had no laws to implement the revolution’s goals of equality and freedom since “the laws are made by the rich, and of course for the rich.” Thomas Skidmore, a machinist who helped to begin the New York Workingman’s Party, also discussed inequality and poverty in the context of the revolution. Deeply influenced by Native American egalitarianism and Paine’s belief in “natural inheritance,” Skidmore asked how it was possible for a person to be created equal as stated in the Declaration of Independence when the rich and the poor were born into unequal circumstances. In his 1829 book, Skidmore concluded that “as long as property is unequal; or rather, as long as it is so enormously unequal, as we see it at present, that those who possess it will live on the labor of others.”

Myers-Lipton, p. 33-34

. . . . Thomas Skidmore argued that in order to bring about the equality the American Revolution promised, the inheritance of land should be abolished; when people died, their property should be given to the state in order to be divided up equally among its citizens, thereby redistributing wealth.

Myers-Lipton, p. 37-38

(Excerpted from “Social Solutions to Poverty” © Paradigm Publishers 2006)


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