A “Modest Proposal” for Better Barbecue

This post is a little disturbing and I have received some anxious mail about it.  Jonathan Swift, a satirist makes outrageous suggestions about how the Irish, impoverished by absentee landlords might improve its economy.

It is a metaphorical satire, which, were it written today, might reference  Ireland, Greece, or Portugal.  Improving their balance of payments by exporting the nonproductive elements (children too young to work) as we might cattle could refer to the damage done by cuts in education and social services

Between 1534 and 1603 the Earls of Kildare were defeated by the English and the Irish suffered greatly under their rule.  Hence, Swift’s modest proposal on how the Irish could improve their lot.

I want to reiterate that I don’t think children are fit to eat and those who would have us cut education and the social safety net are actually asking us to “eat our children.  -Carlos

A Modest Proposal:  the Children of the Poor Diminish Educational Opportunities

Steve Fraser  (Original article link here.)

In 1729, when Ire­land had fallen into a state of utter des­ti­tu­tion at the hands of its British land­lords, Jonathan Swift pub­lished a fa­mous essay, “A Mod­est Pro­posal for Pre­vent­ing the Chil­dren of Poor Peo­ple in Ire­land from Being a Bur­den to Their Par­ents or Coun­try, and for Mak­ing Them Ben­e­fi­cial to the Pub­lic.”

His idea was sim­ple: the starv­ing Irish should sell their own chil­dren to the rich as food.

His in­spi­ra­tion, as it hap­pened, came from across the At­lantic.  As he ex­plained, “I have been as­sured by a very know­ing Amer­i­can of my ac­quain­tance in Lon­don, that a young, healthy child well nour­ished is at a year old a most de­li­cious, nour­ish­ing, and whole­some food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fric­as­see, or a ragout.”

In­spired in turn by Swift, I want to sug­gest that we put in mo­tion a sim­i­lar un­der­tak­ing: on Jan­u­ary 16th, Mar­tin Luther King Day, cit­i­zens from around the coun­try should gather at the New York Stock Ex­change on Wall Street.  Let’s call this macabre gath­er­ing — with luck and even worse times, it should be mam­moth — “We Sur­ren­der” or “Re­store Debtor’s Pris­ons” or “De-Fault Is Ours” or “Col­lat­er­al­ize Us.”  And plan on a mirth­ful day of mourn­ing.

The basic idea is that we offer our­selves up, 99% of us any­way, on the altar of high fi­nance as a sac­ri­fice to the bond mar­kets.  It was Karl Marx who first ob­served that high fi­nance is “the Vat­i­can of cap­i­tal­ism.”  How right he turned out to be — right with a vengeance!

The Death of Democ­racy

Whole gov­ern­ments, de­mo­c­ra­t­i­cally elected, are col­laps­ing, or ab­di­cat­ing on or­ders from our sec­u­lar ver­sion of the pa­pacy.  Who will weep for the pass­ing of Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Sil­vio Berlus­coni?  Not many, surely.  Still, it’s ap­palling that, in Italy as in Greece, gov­ern­ing au­thor­ity has been usurped by tech­nocrats, elected by no one, an­swer­able only to the Eu­ro­pean in­sti­tu­tions of high fi­nance that in­stalled them in power.

At last count, eight gov­ern­ments of the Eu­ro­pean Union have come and gone, suf­fer­ing the wrath of our new god.  Other Eu­ro­pean gov­ern­ments barely hang on and scurry to curry favor with the bond mar­ket, propos­ing in ef­fect to eat their own chil­dren and the fu­tures of 99% of their peo­ple, if that’s what it takes to make high fi­nance happy.  More will fol­low.  By the time this piece was pub­lished, who would be sur­prised if yet an­other gov­ern­ment had bit­ten the dust?

What about here in the U.S.A.?  That cap­i­tal­ism and democ­racy go to­gether (like love and mar­riage in that old song) has been the im­pe­r­ial boast con­veyed to the rest of the world by Amer­i­can banks and diplo­mats and pres­i­dents and Marines for a cen­tury — and more re­cently, by crony cap­i­tal­ist out­fits like KBR and preda­tor drones.  Today, at home and abroad that par­tic­u­lar gospel seems a sorry piece of hypocrisy.  Cap­i­tal­ism has be­come a syn­onym for — to use an old word on its way back just in time — plu­toc­racy, not democ­racy.  The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion like the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion be­fore it, and the one be­fore that, and the one be­fore that, has bent its knee to “the Vat­i­can of cap­i­tal­ism.”

Take Our Chil­dren, Please!

An­tic­i­pat­ing Swift, we are al­ready eat­ing our own chil­dren or, at least, the fu­tures avail­able to them.  My sug­ges­tion is to make the most of that re­al­ity.

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About carlos

I'm a curious person, of reasonable intellect, "on the beach" (retired) and enjoying my interest in anthropology, language, civil rights, and a few other areas. I've been a hippie/student/aerospace tech writer in the '60s, a witness to the Portuguese revolution in the ‘70s, a defense test engineer and witness to the Guatemalan genocide in the '80s, and a network engineer for an ISP in the '90s. Now I’m a student and commentator until my time is up. I've spent time under the spell of the Mesoamerican pyramids and the sweet sound of the Portuguese language. I've lived in Europe, traveled in Brazil, Central America, Iceland, New Zealand, and other places. My preferred mode of travel is with a backpack and I eat (almost) anything local. Somehow, many of the countries I have been to have had civil unrest (for which I was not responsible). I'm open to correspond with anyone who might share my liberal, humanist interests. I live in San Buenaventura, California.
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