Tuesday, November 21, 2006
A taste of Swift
I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed 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.
So says Jonathan Swift in A Modest Proposal, a delicious satire written 277 years ago. It was a comment on the state of the Irish poor, as well as on the misplaced vanity of political economists who think that they can acually 'plan' an economy.
It reminds me of Frederic Bastiat's superb satire on protectionism, The Candlemaker's Petition, in which a group of candlemakers petition the government to block out the sun. Sounds absurd, I know, but as great satire does, it serves to highlight the existing absurdity of much that goes in on the name of 'the common good.'
(Swift link via email from Naveen.)