It is a sad thing to those who walk through this great country, when they see the streets crowded with immigrants followed by three, four, or six children. Instead of being able to work for an honest livelihood, they are forced to draw welfare for their helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves, or join gangs, or sell themselves.
I think everybody agrees that this prodigious number of immigrant children in the present deplorable state of our country is a great extra burden. So, it helps us if someone could find a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children useful members of society.
But my idea isn’t necessarily confined only to immigrant children. It might apply to all infants at a certain age, who are born to parents unable to support them.
I’ve long thought that at exactly one year old, society could make sure they weren’t a burden to their parents or their churches, and prevent them from needing food or clothing for the rest of their lives. Instead, they could contribute to the feeding and partly to the clothing of thousands of Americans.
There is another great advantage in my scheme: It will prevent voluntary abortions. It’s too frequent among us, sacrificing the poor innocent babies more to avoid the expense than the shame, which should make us cry.
Grocers tell me that a boy or a girl over 12 years old isn’t really a saleable commodity because they will not yield above 5 bucks, 7 at most, which doesn’t even pay for their parents’ effort, food, and raggedy clothes they wear.
Here’s my own solution, which nobody can really dispute.
I have been assured by a very knowledgeable dietitian that a young, healthy, well-nursed child is, at a year old, a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled. And I have no doubt that it will be equally tasty in a fricassee, or a ragout.
So, I humbly offer that of the 120,000 immigrant children, which we have already computed, 20,000 may be reserved for breeding, whereof only one-quarter should be male, which is more than we allow to sheep, cattle, or pigs. The remaining 100,000 may, at a year old, be sold to rich people. We could demand that the mother nurse them plentifully in their last month to make them plump for a good meal. A child could make two dishes for a party with friends, and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter, seasoned with a little pepper or salt, is enough. It would be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.
Yes, I know this food would be fairly expensive, but it should be especially delectable for landlords and real-estate developers, since they have probably already devoured most of the parents. They should have the best claim on the children, too.
Babies will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after. That’s because, we’re told by a serious author, that there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent. At those times, the market might be more glutted than usual, but it also has the advantage of reducing the number of Catholics among us.
For those of us who are cheap and frugal, the carcass may be flensed. The skin, when dressed out, will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fashionable men.
But I digress. I think the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance at this moment.
First, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the number of Catholics.
Second, immigrants will have something of value they can use to pay rent.
Third, we won’t have to pay a lot of money to maintain 100,000 immigrant kids. In fact, the economy will be improved if they are sold on the open market. Not to mention, we’ll introduce some fabulous new dishes.
Fourth, constant immigrant breeders will make a profit instead of paying their hard-earned money to care for kids.
Fifth, kids will be excellent bar food.
Sixth, this would be a great inducement to marriage. It would increase the tenderness of mothers toward their children, when they can be sure of a good profit and doing a good deed for everybody else.
I could go on and on. For example, we love bacon, so why destroy a pig?
Nobody can possibly object to my modest proposal. Nobody should complain unless he has a better idea and is ready to act on it.
I don’t have the least personal interest in promoting this serious work, except in the public interest, but we must advance the trade of providing for infants’ welfare, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich. My wife is past child-bearing. And I have no children I could sell. They’re way too old and wouldn’t really be profitable.
Hat tip to Jonathan Swift, who first made this satirical modest proposal in 1729.