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Essay/Term paper: Swift"s "a modest proposal…"

Essay, term paper, research paper:  English Papers

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Swift"s Modest Proposal for the Preventing the Children of Poor People from being a burden to their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public is a satire of the English opinion of the Irish, barbarians. Though this is a satire, Swift has a good point about eating children. In the world today there are approximately 6 billion people, many being children. By the year 2050, according to the World Population Profile: 1998, the population will reach 9.3 billion. Consumption of children would help this and many other problems that afflict our society as a whole.

"For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the number of papists, with whom we are yearly overrun, being the principal breeders of the nation as well as our most dangerous enemies; and who stay at home on purpose with a design to deliver the kingdom to the Pretender, hoping to take their advantage by the absence of so many good protestants, who have chosen rather to leave their country than stay at home and pay tithes against their conscience to an Episcopal curate." (Swift, 3) He talks of lessening the number of people, which is good, considering at this time we have approximately six billion people, and the projected number for the year 2050 is 9.3 billion. While the rate of increase has declined over the years, adding the extra people to the earth is similar to repopulating Israel, Jordan, the West Bank, and Gaza to the existing population each year. Having 9.5 billion people habituating the earth, there will be a quarter as much fresh water per person in 2050 as there was in 1950. We lose over 100 species at 1000 times their natural rate. By consuming infants, we decrease the population in two ways, they will not grow to produce another generation and they will not live. In addition, this solves the problem of starvation, because many essential nutrients are stored in flesh, many cultures rely on a diet of only meat and stay healthy. Therefore, we wont lose to starvation, but we will have less people.

"Secondly, the poorer tenants will have something valuable of their own, which by law may be made liable to distress and help to pay their landlord's rent, their corn and cattle being already seized, and money a thing unknown." (Swift, 4) The countries with the lowest population growth, have the most stable incomes, and thrive. Therefore, the consumption of humans would be beneficial to society, because less mouths to feed, therefore per household income goes up and they have merchandise to sell, human flesh.

"Thirdly, whereas the maintenance of an hundred thousand children, from two years old and upward, cannot be computed at less than ten shillings a-piece per annum, the nation's stock will be thereby increased fifty thousand pounds per annum, beside the profit of a new dish introduced to the tables of all gentlemen of fortune in the kingdom who have any refinement in taste. And the money will circulate among ourselves, the goods being entirely of our own growth and manufacture." (Swift, 4) The introduction of more industry to an impoverished area, if kept with in the country, can jump start the economy. Also, the point of adding a new dish to the menu of gentleman, the ingestion of human flesh could be viewed as a delicacy like chickens brains, horse, and "rocky mountain oysters."

"Fourthly, the constant breeders, beside the gain of eight shillings sterling per annum by the sale of their children, will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year." (Swift, 4) Plain and simple fact, to raise a child significant money must be spent on nourishment, clothing, education, and other expenses. By getting rid of the expense of raising the child, and profiting from the sale, the parents profit, because breast milk is essentially free, considering that the mother already needs to eat.

"Fifthly, This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns; where the vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection, and consequently have their houses frequented by all the fine gentlemen, who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good eating: and a skilful cook, who understands how to oblige his guests, will contrive to make it as expensive as they please." (Swift, 4) Going back to the point about food and economy, human will become a delicacy, enough that people will come to sample the tender meat, subsequently taverns will benefit, and then the country from the success.

"Sixthly, This would be a great inducement to marriage, which all wise nations have either encouraged by rewards or enforced by laws and penalties. It would increase the care and tenderness of mothers toward their children, when they were sure of a settlement for life to the poor babes, provided in some sort by the public, to their annual profit instead of expense. We should see an honest emulation among the married women, which of them could bring the fattest child to the market. Men would become as fond of their wives during the time of their pregnancy as they are now of their mares in foal, their cows in calf, their sows when they are ready to farrow; nor offer to beat or kick them (as is too frequent a practice) for fear of a miscarriage." Swift talks of the men as if they were profiteers. However, he has a point. The reward for marrying would be a more supple income, and more people would stay married, instead of divorcing. The financial burden associated with the rearing of a child, would negate instead, the profit would show. Therefore, instead of cursing the pregnancy, it would be a celebrated event. Hence, domestic abuse would be end (on the female end). In the United Stated statistics show that a woman is abused every nine seconds, for fear of losing her, this would not happen if people at children.

Eating children has many benefits, mostly financial, but also some societal. With close to six billion people sharing one earth, this someday may be the case, because natural disasters, famine, war, and other factors, have not halted the increase. Consequently, the residence of the planet are at a point of decision, what to do about the population. China placed stringent laws upon its people to limit themselves to one child. However, protestors say this violates their human rights. Though Swift meant for this piece to mock the English, he opened a whole different "can of worms."

Works Cited

Swift, Jonathan. A Modest Proposal. English Department, University of Pennsylvania. 6 February 2000 <http://www.english.upenn.edu/~jlynch/courses/95c/texts/modest.html>.

Battered Women. Templar Research Institute. 16 February 2000 <http://www.templar-research-inst.org/battered.html>.

Zero Population Growth. The Central Oregon Chapter of Zero Population Growth. 16 February 2000 <http://www.envirocenter.org/groups/zeropop/zeropop.html>.

World Population Continues to Grow. Enviromental News Network. 16 February 2000 <http://www.enn.com/enn-news-archieve/1999/04/040599/population_2496.asp>.


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