Poverty campaigners have devoted too little attention to the fact that most poor people have no assets. Tom Paine (1969) wanted to tax the assets of the wealthy, transferring the proceeds to citizens at the beginning of life. Modern neo-conservatives want to replace the welfare state with a capital grant at birth. This article rejects the latter course on the basis of economic theory and praticability. But it does advocate capitalising welfare and tax benefits in the case of higher education and pensions, as well as extending housing asset ownership
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