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A Modest Proposal (With apologies to Jonathan Swift)

Author’s note: In 1729, Jonathan Swift published "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden on Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick."  In the satirical piece, Swift made the modest proposal that the problem of poverty could be alleviated through a simple solution: cannibalism. If the poor would sell their children to the rich as food, Swift argued, various economic problems would be solved. The fictional piece below, while not advocating cannibalism, nevertheless applies Swift’s brand of disciplined rationalism to the economic challenges of modern society, showing that solutions are attainable if we are only willing to follow a path of logic.

A Modest Proposal

True epiphanies are extremely rare, especially for secular humanists. Yet, like Paul on the road to Damascus, I was recently confronted with a life-changing truth that has shattered my previous views of the world. It happened suddenly and without warning, at the New Hampshire vacation home of Antonin Roberts, a wealthy venture capitalist from suburban Boston who is considering running for public office. Antonin and his wife, Ayn, are members of what many today would call the “one percent,” but their immense wealth has done nothing to diminish their natural charm and good manners.

Antonin and Ayn knew that I, as a humanist with strong progressive leanings, was averse to their political and economic views, and perhaps because of this they seemed especially eager to engage in discussion. I never expected to be persuaded by their arguments but, as one who appreciates well-grounded logic and rational analysis, I must say that I found myself in awe of Antonin’s flawless reasoning.

To read the rest of the Psychology Today article by American Association President David Niose, click here.