A Modest Proposal

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 3 January 2017

A Modest Proposal

Jonathan Swift, a satirical author from the 1600’s and 1700’s, wrote A Modest Proposal, in 1729 to bring to the attention of the Irish officials that the poor were in dire need of help. In this essay, Swift proposes that the poor sell their children to upperclassmen for ten shillings in graphic detail (Swift 3). Through this disturbing mental image that readers were not able to look away from, the author successfully conveyed his message to the Irish people and managed to ultimately get them to help their own citizens.

In modern society, the poor are growing poorer and the rich are growing richer, just like in the 1700’s. The lower class is not much different than the Irish lower class conditions was three hundred years in the past. The similarities of the lower classes are that the rich are of a much smaller percent, the poor are not receiving the help that they should, and that jobs are not readily available to anyone despite popular belief. The movement against Wall Street’s 1% was not effective due to these reasonings.

The percentage ratio between the rich and the poor, in both eras, respectively run from extremely low to very high. In an article written for The Los Angeles Times on December 4th, 2011, the author clearly states how “we are fighting the 1% because they possess most of the nation’s wealth… They are the enemy of “us” — the 99% who toil at low-wage jobs… and yet pay our fair share of taxes. ” (Schiller 1) In this quote, the percent of people without jobs is comparable to that in Swift’s time. As Darell Figgis explains, “Throughout the eighteenth century the state of that nation was inconceivably wretched.

It was rack-rented mercilessly, without let or hindrance or prospect of remedy (1)”. Eighteenth century Ireland was in a worse state of living than the poor in the United States. In eighteenth century Ireland, anyone who was not part of royalty was part of poverty. In this case, jobs were unavailable to most people who were of poor descent. The job most of the poor were able to acquire was a begging job, and even then life was difficult. Even local farmers were more fortunate than the beggars, since they were able to spare a little of their own harvest for heir families.

Officials turned a blind eye to the problem, and ignored the pleas of the beggars and lower class. If the United States continues to go down this path, soon the country will face the same fate as that of 18th century Ireland. Occupy Wall Street was a major event that happened in New York City to fight how the upper-class is not helping the less fortunate. Many people flocked to Wall Street to protest, bearing signs saying “We Are The 99%”, declaring how the so-called “1%” of the United States holds most of the money in the country.

As Fox News writes, “The protesters have varied causes, but have spoken largely about unemployment and economic inequality, reserving most of their criticism for Wall Street. ‘We are the 99 percent,’ they chanted, contrasting themselves with the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans” (“Occupy Wall Street” 1). These people wanted to make their opinions known, clearly portraying their disapproval of the system today. The upper-class in society receives up to seventeen percent of the national income in total (McCormally 1).

Even through this, there is no evidence that any help will come to the lower class any time soon. A Modest Proposal, written by the satirist Jonathan Swift, condemns the same fate to the Irish of the time. As Swift writes, “I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because it is very well known that [the Irish people] are every day dying and rotting by cold and famine, and filth and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected (Swift 4)”. This quote shows how horrid the living conditions of Ireland were during this time period.

Upperclassmen did nothing to help this condition from progressing, and continued about their own ways, pretending that there was no real problem occurring. Likewise, in today’s society, many of the upperclassmen do not help the lower class. Though some actually do lend a helping hand to those people who need help the most, many lower class citizens have to work their way around a meager salary. In the time of Jonathan Swift, though the crisis was much more profound, there were still some similarities to the issues of today’s society.

In his work of art, A Modest Proposal, he declares the problem, “And as to the young laborers, they are now in as hopeful a condition; they cannot get work, and consequently pine away for want of nourishment, to a degree that if at any time they are accidentally hired to common labor, they have not strength to perform it” (Swift 4). This statement is not too far away from the economic problems the United States is having today. Many college-bound students are unable to secure a job, thus making them rely on their parents for longer than ever before in history.

The monetary issue has been growing ever larger since the most recent stock market crash, in which the Dow Jones dropped a total of 22. 11% within a week (“Stock Market Crash of 2008. ” 2). However, the issue is currently under review, and hopefully a bailout is in the near future for people of the United States of America. In conclusion, there are many similarities between today’s poverty-driven streets and Ireland’s poor population. The upperclassmen, or, in today’s words, government, were not and are not paying attention to the dire needs that the countries needed to get through the hardship that should not have been.

Jobs are scarcely available to anyone who does not know someone already with a job working for the same company. Even though this is the case, the government is not working to help out the situation, and is not focusing on what is needed; more jobs, less government spending on luxuries that are unrequired for the survival of the country itself. The rich are growing richer as the poor’s funds are growing thinner and, much like the issues addressed in A Modest Proposal, help from officials is not in sight.

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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 3 January 2017

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