TWO HUNDRED and fifty years ago Jonathan Swift submitted his "Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burden to their Parents or Country, and for Making them Beneficial to the Public." This is well worth reading today, in light of our own anger at the immense burden the poor place on our national treasury, money that is obviously needed for more important things like weapons.
I do not mean we should follow Swift's precise prescription. After a careful study, you may recall, he reported 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 . . ." Thus, he proposed, the rich would have a source of gourmet food, the poor would make a modest profit, and "it will prevent those voluntary abortions and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children."
We have, of course, advanced beyond such barbaric notions, to say nothing of the fact that we would not tolerate that kind of discrimination against the poor and in favor of the rich. Besides, we certainly wouldn't want to risk the cries of unfair competition from those who raise cattle, pigs and sheep for slaughter.
No, I am merely suggesting that, like Swift, we seek simple answers to complicated problems. It is, after all, the overwhelming complexity of government today which is intolerable, which fosters the widespread and infuriating myth, promoted by the liberal media, that life itself is complex.
There is nothing really complicated about dealing with poverty, abortion, overpopulation, crime, unemployment, the draft, 'social engineering' programs and our justifiably voracious military appetite. Indeed, in the spirit of Jonathan Swift and of encouraging a new American Age of Simplicity, I would advance a single solution that would take care of them all -- and without offending anybody's moral scruples about the right to life or the sin of sex education.
It will work, simply, this way:
All "truly poor" females of child-bearing age will be sent to clinics for pregnancy confirmation -- clinics that will be widely seen as costless because they will come under the military budget. These clinics will of course be prevented from giving out any pregnancy prevention information or devices.
If pregnant, whether or not the female is the victim of incest or rape, she will be removed instantly to a designated Military Female Concentration Center, in the grand tradition of the Japanese-American detention centers we established during World War II to incarcerate undesirable Americans and thereby protect the rest of us. At the Concentration Center, the female will be interned and put on a 24-hour watch for up to nine months, lest she harm the innocent speck within her womb.
After the baby is born, she will be free to return home and to be reimpregnated at her pleasure. As a special favor, if she wishes to keep her infant, she will be allowed to do so on signing an agreement that this privilege will be revoked if she ever requires public assistance in its rearing.
For the most part, however, the infants will be put in the military nursery. The children thus gained and raised by the military will not only be off the budget of domestic programs, but will eliminate the need for a military draft. This will also help solve the contentious issue of woman in the military, since nobody will fret about the poor and burdensome female children who will be included both the troop members and as further breeders for the Pentagon.
Raised from birth in a military world for 18 years, all these unwanted children will be required in return to give 18 years of free military service. At the age of 36 most may opt to stay on at a modest fee, but the rest of the survivors can be given military retirement for which there is also a generous budget.
At the beginning we will have to deal with the problems created by our past procedures. What if the female already has several children dependent upon her? Obviously they must go with her to avoid the cost of a foster home program. In the long run this is really an advantage, since they will be older and thus more quickly usable by the military.
True, some may have been corrupted by acquaintance with the civilian world, but the unruly ones can be isolated in special wards until their attitude has been corrected. A second advantage is that many of these children may have a natural bent toward violence, often having seen it in their environment, and will have no distaste for war and killing. Best of all, since their only relative will now be Uncle Sam, their deaths will cause none of that grief to loved ones that is the particular curse of war.
The advantage of this plan is obvious. Our administration proposes large cuts in aid to dependent children, subsidized housing, Medicaid, school lunch and food stamp programs. Although some of these programs would still be needed temporarily by some of the elderly until a way can be worked out to eliminate them as well, all could be drastically cut, and aid to dependent children and school lunch programs could be phased out entirely in a very short time.
We would need only to ensure that the welfare mother has no access to contraceptive counseling or devices and that she is prevented from self-aborting in the almost certain case of another pregnancy, and the problem is solved. Mother and children are whisked off to the Female Concentration Center, and from a social burden they become a military asset.
Clearly, my modest proposal will greatly reduce poverty in a generation or less because the children of the truly poor will be in the care of the military, and the parents, thus liberated, should be able to support themselves. Since a large portion of petty thievery and violent crime -- muggings, shooting, rapes, robberies -- traditionally has been committed by these same children, that problem, too, should diminish dramatically.
As for white-collar crimes -- drug smuggling, forgery, swindling, embezzling, betrayal of the public trust -- since these are generally committed by respectable middle- and upper-income groups and usually involve only brief jail sentences, if any, they are not a great budgetary concern.
The administration and its congressional allies recognize that it is unfair to limit no-abortion rules to the poor, so the proposed fetal rights bill would restore equity. There must be no discrimination.
When a case of incest or rape is reported, the female must be put in isolation under surveillance until it is determined whether a pregnancy has resulted. If so, in the interest of the innocent unborn fetus, she, too, must be sent to a Military Female Concentration Center where she cannot harm it. Particularly in the case of rape, a female may be so emotionally unbalanced as not to want to bear the child of her rapist. In this case she may require special confinement and one-on-one, round-the-clock surveillance.
The same rule must apply to any other female, however self-supporting, who might be tempted to end a pregnancy for any reason. If a doctor or any other person has knowledge, or even suspects, that a female wishes to end her pregnancy, he is bound to report this to the authorities on pain of being charged as an accessory to the crime, with severe penalties. This is a difficult problem because many females will thus avoid all doctors.
Even if we have block captains, civilian monitors, to watch and report on any female who is suspected of pregnancy, this would probably be only partially effective because most abortions are performed before the pregnancy is evident. True, the desperate female who tries to self-abort or the one who pays heavily to put herself in the hands of a back-alley butcher will often get her just punishment. But such retribution cannot be ensured in more than 25 percent of the cases. Since hospitals will no longer be allowed to care for such females after a septic abortion, however, the count might easily rise to 50 or 75 percent in the future.
If it is objected that the females who can afford to may flee the country to get an abortion elsewhere, my reply is that this is esily controlled. At our borders and at all airports before boarding a plane leaving the country, all females of childbearing years will be required to undergo a pregnancy test. If it is positive, they will be judged guilty of intention to abort and will be treated accordingly.
As a humane measure, however, and especially to keep any female from having to request public support for the extra children, when she decides she cannot care for any more children all future offspring will be turned over at once to the military. A second option may possibly be open: to have her tubes tied. At this writing, however, it is uncertain whether those who know the will of God have decided that such an action is acceptable.
In harsher times and places, women have been put to death for killing their infant, even when born as the result of rape, but our contry would hardly subscribe to such barbarous punishments. Still, we must fashion penalties for attempted or actual abortion that are severe enough to deter this detestable crime.
For attempted abortion on the first offense mercy would be shown: The offender would merely be sent to the Female Concentration Center and be put under round-the-clock surveillance until she delivered and the unwanted child was given to the military. She would then be free but required to report weekly to her probation officer for five years for special pregnancy monitoring.
For actual abortion, if the female survives the butchery, it is only just that she replace the life she has taken. She would be sent to the Center, inseminated by a soldier considered to have good fighting qualities, and placed under the same close surveillance until delivery. The surveillance will also ensure that the female will be unable to commit suicide, a move which she might be tempted to consider. Upon delivery, if she had meanwhile demonstrated a positive attitude, she might be released on a 10-year probation with weekly monitoring.
All this will greatly reduce the unemployment problem, because in the Female Concentration Centers the surveillance program alone will require great numbers of monitors. I estimate that at least three monitors will be needed to every two or three females, one monitor per eight-hour shift, to ensure that no abortion attempt is made.
This does not count the extra shifts needed for Saturdays and Sundays, and for those determined females who may require one-on-one suveillance.
Thousands of border and airport monitors will also be needed. Since the cost of these monitors will be on the military budget, this will fortunately not affect domestic budget cutting programs.
Regrettably, the domestic budget may need to carry the cost of the block captains, or civilian monitors, and of the probation officers. These, by the way, should be men, preferably members of the Moral Majority. Never having faced the problems of bearing children, they are ideally fitted to be unmoved by pleas of hardship. In addition, their churches will likely support them and thus reduce the government's cost to no more than their transportation and lunch.
Some may reasonably ask how my proposal will affect world overpopulation. Will it not aggravate it to intolerable limits? Here i put my faith in the new administration and the military. We will lower our birth rate, but we can certainly increase our death rate.
The administration is giving the military a budget beyond its wildest dreams and is paving the way for actrion with touch talk and belligerent challenges around the globe. How can a self-respecting military establishment fail to live up to such expectations?
We may mix it up for a while with some small wars here and there, which will certainly help to reduce the population a bit. But this will not be enough, as we have seen in the past. So we have to pin our faith on the Big One, the nuclear one, that is sure to come if we throw enough money and agitation into it. This will solve the overpopulation and all our present little problems for thousands of years -- and, with some kind of luck, forever.
This prospect may be distressing to some, but it will doubtless comfort many to see the proof that the Bible was literally correct in predicting Armageddon.