Paper: a Modest Proposal

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March 20, 2000
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Jonathan Swift in his essay, "A Modest Proposal" suggests a unique solution to the problem concerning poor children in Ireland. Swift uses several analytical techniques like statistics, induction, and testimony to persuade his readers. His idea is admirable because he suggests that instead of putting money into the problem, one can make money from the problem. However, his proposal is inhumane. Swift wrote his proposal for those that were tired of looking at poor children of Ireland. He starts out explaining the situation in Ireland regarding single poor mothers that have three to six children and can not afford to feed or clothe them. The children of the poor are a burden and a disgrace for Ireland. He suggests that a certain number of the kids be set aside for breeding and the rest be auctioned off for consumption when they reach a year old. Swift backs his proposal with six key points. One, there will be a reduction of "papists" in the country. Two, the poor will have some valuable assets to help them with their economic needs. Three, the new goods will burst economy. Four, the parent/s will gain money and will not have to support their children year after year. Five, "would bring great custom to taverns." Six, there would be a greater incentive to marry and better child rearing practices. Swift uses statistical information to back up his proposal. He claims that there are about "200,000 couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract 30,000 couple who are able to maintain their own children; but this being granted, there will remain 170,000 breeders. I again subtract 50,000 for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remain 120,000 children of poor parents annually born." He would keep about 20,000 for breeding and sell the rest for food. Swift argues that this would boost the country economically by 8 shillings per child. That is at...
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