One of the main reasons behind our society’s repeated collapses into economic depression is ‘avarice’ both at the level of the individual and the level of institutions. And cars are one of those talismanic commodities that have come to represent conspicuous consumption. The calculable savings that limited usage of cars would bring an average American household will serve to alleviate the economic crisis in two ways. First, the money saved by households can be utilized for buying other essential commodities, thereby stimulating the economy. Second, it will instill a culture of collective common good as opposed to selective individual gain, for, after all, the public transport system is where people from all walks of life and different ethno-cultural backgrounds share common space. This will bring about a culture of camaraderie and solidarity among our citizens. Indeed, based on the success of the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is not outlandish to imagine a similar movement for reduced use of fossil fuels, via the reduced use of cars. More importantly, such a change in public attitudes and government policies, will mitigate impending climate disaster. We owe it to ourselves and to the humanity of the rest of the world to create this revolution, restore a functioning economy and also save the planet.
Comparison between My Modest Proposal and Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal:
There are several differences between the classic pamphlet ‘A Modest Proposal’ by Jonathan Swift and its modest imitation by yours truly. Firstly, the literary skill and astuteness of logic employed by Jonathan Swift is superior to that of mine. Swift was a litterateur par excellence and he possessed knowledge in political science, economics, law, history and literature. Such depth in knowledge is clearly evident in the pamphlet. Moreover, the most alluring aspect of the work is its dark satire and its wry, sarcastic sense of humor. It is with humility that I admit that neither my knowledge, nor my skill or sense of humor measure up to that of the illustrious counterpart. Yet, I’ve tried to capture the spirit and essence of Swift’s early 18th century masterpiece in my own work. What follows is a comparison.
Both the works address a pressing social problem of their respective time periods. The ongoing economic slowdown is comparable in scale to the problems of acute poverty in early 17th century Ireland. Although the United States is the most prosperous nation in the world, it also has sizeable population living below the poverty line – a condition exacerbated by periodic economic depressions and recessions. Hence, in many ways, Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’ is applicable word by word to the American case. It is difficult to imagine what sort of reaction the American press would give if the famous pamphlet were to be released today. But ‘shock’, ‘outrage’, ‘insensitive’, ‘perverted’ would be the likely descriptions for it. On the other hand, the proposal written by me does not contain any inhumane or shocking idea like treating babies as culinary delicacies. Its basic attack is on a conservative ideology that fosters business interests at the cost of the common public good. Hence my proposal might be brushed aside as communist or left-wing propaganda. It will receive all the contempt that such literature is known to get historically. In this sense, contemporary reactions to the two written in question will be different.