Modest Proposals Reconsidered [Archives:2001/18/Focus]
By Mohamed Kadery
In his essay titled “Moderate Proposal”, Jonathan Swift, the famous Anglo-Irish writer and outstanding prose satirist, of the 18th century, drew some salient social and economic proposals. He was, of course, not aware of how his proposal might be relevant nowadays!
Swift sympathetically considered his Irish society’s miserable living conditions. He had described how street-passers used to feel broken-hearted to see gatherings of beggars, especially females, standing helplessly with their children on shoulders and others in their arms; while others sat at the mother’s feet wearing torn clothing. Some of them found a way out to chase tourists.
Deeply distressed by the scene, Swift found that there were no source of income for the women. The state, no doubt, was unable to offer any. The plight of children, was really pitiable. They managed to make less money than their expenses required. A child less than twelve, would certainly fail to hold up a few pounds of weight. They, therefore, were not recruited by employers, and if recruited were paid very little.
Swift had to be honest in offering a national solution. He suggested for poor families, especially for those compelled to stand in streets and beg, to sell their children to the country’s slaughterhouse. Yes, these children would provide the markets with huge quantities of fresh meat; rich housewives would easily purchase soft meat especially those of infants; and hence would show off of preparing palatable dishes for their invited guests. Moreover, meat professionals could debate on the ‘qualities’!
Swift also had to consider the VIPs affairs and indicated how fortunate they would be to have shoes made out of easy-wearing real leather. In addition Swift had to care how the government would benefit and obtain revenue for the state budget. The commodity was local and its exportation was possible, too!