I wrote a paper on him, but never read a word of his writing. Thanks to HBO's miniseries on John Adams (guess the title), I went ahead and got some of his (Paine's) stuff from the library. Great stuff.
Common Sense opens like this (this is the second sentence):
Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices.
In other words: We have society because we don't do well on our own, and we have government because we don't do good in groups.