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A Modest Proposal-Collaborative Paper

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Isa He, Courtney Jewett and Anna Melker

Paper #11

December 6, 2008

A Modest Proposal

Many companies that advertise their sustainablepractices are in reality not very sustainable. We find fault in this. Simplyswitching over to recycled napkins is not the ideal choice. We propose a changein the mentality of our society, and we need to act now. Instead of thinkingabout ways to reduce our use of inputs or resources, we feel that monitoringthe root of the problem is to change the pattern of consumption. And we willaccomplish this by permitting people to consume resources when they earn theright.

In 1848, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels believed theyhad a solution to the root of our problem.  It was called communism: the belief that everyone wouldprosper if all resources were equally allocated.  Marx and Engels published their ideals in The Communist Manifesto.  We believe that their idea isidealistic and impractical.  It isnot sensible to give resources to everyone because some will go to waste on theunproductive members of society. While we believe that the solution lies inresource allocation, we do not agree that just because someone is living meanshe should be equal.  Our societydoes not naturally flourish in communism; rather, our economy thrives onDarwinist principle, capitalism. We intend to model our society on economic laws. The marginal benefit tosociety, the productivity of each person, should equal his marginal cost, hisupkeep.  We intend to control thepeople who receive resources. 

Every citizen or organization, that is not productive,or does not have the potential to become productive, should be terminated. Bytaking out the unproductive units, we can reach our maximum potential with theleast possible costs.  No weak or unproductivehumans have a place in our world. This includes the mentally ill, retarded,handicapped, criminals in jail, terminally ill, people in comas, the diseased,and the retired. The selection of the fittest would solve many problems ofresource scarcity that we face today: overpopulation, high medical costs,poverty, unfair handicapped parking spaces, hospices, useless governmentspending on various programs (welfare, low income housing, research for cancer)would all be solved.

However, differences among our population likereligion, sexual orientation, and skin color are not grounds for termination.Instead, as weak citizens are weeded out, the population will thin andresources will correspondingly increase, so we will be able to be more generousand accepting of people different from ourselves. The fitness of society dependson the strength of the economy that supports us. The lives of those who are notproductive should be ended to prevent further useless expenditures andinefficient resource allocations that hold back our economic and technologicpotentials. To reach our optimal goal of enough resources for everyone, and tofully incorporate capitalism into our daily lives without the messy fightsbetween nations that are wars, we will conduct tests on people whom we suspectof being unfit. The obvious rational solution is to take the unfit out of theequation of success, and help them take their part in the advancement of oursociety.

To determine whether a person is unfit to live, wewill conduct monthly series of assessments. The financial wellbeing of a personwill not be a factor because we believe the strongest and fittest are not necessarilythe wealthiest. What matters most is that they are productive. There will be fourtrials of physical assessment in order to properly rid our society of theuseless. The settings, conditions, and locations of the assessments will bechanged monthly to avoid any preparations targeted groups might take to avoidbeing terminated.

Each of the four assessments will test a differentcomponent of fitness: endurance, strength, problem solving, and combat skills(which combines both physical and mental strength). These assessments will helpus put them in the right occupation fields to facilitate our society’s growth. Thefirst round of the assessment will involve cardiovascular monitoring duringswimming, biking, and running. Monitoring the subjects’ heart rates will givethe examiners a better picture of their overall health. The second round willrequire the subject to lift groceries, small children, and dumbbells. The thirdround of tests has puzzles, mazes, and “what would you take to the island”-typequestions. The final assessment includes fighting off robots and/or bears.These tests in both physical and thinking capacity are vital to determiningthose who will live and those who will die because productive citizens needboth qualities. Those who are unproductive or require expensive care must showhow they are still fit to be citizens. If they cannot demonstrate their usefulnessto society, they will forgo the privilege of the world’s resources.

Those who pass all parts of the first set ofassessments will qualify for the psychological and mental portion of the exams.Having a strong body alone does not determine one’s eligibility to remain amember of society: group of already qualified psychologists will conduct aseries of mental exams to determine who is unfit to function in the world.Among these will be a psychoanalytic test, to examine the strength of thesubconscious and others to test mental agility and endurance. The mostimportant assessment of all will be the Potential Return Assessment (PRA),which will test not only your current knowledge, but your potential futureknowledge capacity in the future. From the PRA we will be able to predict justhow much an individual will contribute to society. Anyone who is physically fitbut emotionally unstable will be terminated: mental instability is too great aliability, and medications cost too much. However, if the test subject scoreslow in this portion but high in the physical portion of the assessments, theywill be placed low in the society’s hierarchy, into the labor force.

There will be a certain quota for extermination ofthe unfit, based in a complex calibration of society’s birth and mortality rates,in relationship to the availability of resources.  As we write, the world population of 7 billion people needsconsiderable trimming.  There willbe no discrimination based on race or class; we will calculate quotas mathematicallyand independently for each region of the world.  For instance, the United States will need to cut back as thebaby boomer generation reaches retirement: there will be too many unproductivepeople requiring support, placing too much stress on the system. Many thirdworld countries will need to terminate many of its mentally or sociallyhandicapped.

Our rationale for disposing of the unfit iseconomically reasonable.  The qualityof life of the unfit is determined by the fit. Their existence of the unfit inour society ultimately dilutes the quality of life for everyone because everycent spent on their expensive upkeep is money lost to the advancement of thefit.  Stripping away financial,medical and natural resources – including food and physical space – from themore deserving, the unfit are taking in more than they are producing.  In economic terms, the marginal cost ofkeeping them alive is higher than marginal benefit and the positive externalityon society. The unfit are inefficient: they limit our society’s advancement.

Our measure will always be one of costs versusbenefits. Handicapped people with jobs may be exempt from extermination if theyare still productive members of society. Under this condition we will still bea society of status and class, because the weak, but employed, would be in thelowest socioeconomic group. Allowing some class structure will motivate those whoare fit and in the lower class to improve, which will then set off a chainreaction in the classes above them. The decision to care for individuals withlong-term illnesses will depend on how productive they are, and how costlytheir loss might be to society. For instance, if a neurosurgeon gets cancer,society will deem him fit to spend medical resources on; too much education andspecialization has gone into him to be wasted.

Our decision to terminate a person is an ethical andpragmatic decision. Our conduct can be explained by our adherence to the ideathat society is something bigger than the individual. If in abortion arguments,we calculate the preferences of the mother over those of the fetus, who doesnot know what is best for the mother, then we can apply this reasoning to ourresource scarcity dilemma. We measure the needs of society, which is like the motherbecause it is the basis of all interaction for the individual, over the needsof the individual. This line of reasoning leads us to our final point: it isnot wrong to take the life of an individual.

Our plan also includes provisions for recycling thebodies of the unfit. In a society where resources are limited and everythingmust be used: the stomach and skin linings could become grocery bag materialand packaging, the flesh ground into meal to feed our cattle, horses, andsheep; the intestines turned into rope, the blood into ink, and the bones intodecorative items such as Christmas tree decorations. Most significantly,however, the organs will be saved for transplantsfor the fit, whose survival is paramount.

The question our plan addresses is not amoral but a pragmatic one: it is a question of overall quality of life. We wantthe economic and technological gain that increased resources will provide andthe most efficient means to that end is to terminate the lives of allnon-contributing members of society.  Our reasons do not come from selfinterest but rather the collective interest of the society. Communism failedbecause it gave special power to those at the top, but our ultimate capitalistsociety will ensure everyone gets their due.

Ours is a win-win situation: because theunfit will no longer be with us, they will be spared the reminder that they areinferior and all their problems being unfit will be resolved. Justly, the fitwill have expanded resources that would have gone to the unfit in an imperfectworld.  We will succeed in puttingour solution into action.  Engelsand Marx wrote that “their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrowof all existing social conditions” (Engels and Marx).  We will be forceful and our society will be one of perfectproductivity.







Works Cited


Haidt,Jonathan.  The Emotional Dog andits Rational Tail: A Social Intuitionist

            Approachto Moral Judgment.  AmericanPsychological Association, 2001.

Marx,Karl, Frederick Engels.  TheCommunist Manifesto. 1848.  5 Dec 2008. 


Singer, Peter. RethinkingLife and Death: The Collapse of Our Traditional Ethics. Text

            Publishing,Melbourne, 1994; St Martin's Press, New York, 1995.

Swift, Jonathan.A Modest Proposal. 1729.  5 Dec 2008.  <http://art-