Would you believe that I get fan mail? Today, I am turning over Halfthoughts to a fellow who regularly sends me very interesting letters. He is Prince Karl Zeis, and he is a member of the deposed Royal Family of Delfthia, which he tells me was a small country snuggled between Macedonia and Bulgaria. These days he resides at 7 Hoey’s Court, Bidlun. His letter begins:
As a diligent follower of topical affairs, you will not have failed to notice the weekly outpouring of terrible stories about what is happening to the youth of our nation, about how they are treated shabbily by their parents, and about how, in turn, they often become woeful and immature parents themselves. Our newspapers are filled with reports of young souls, abused and neglected beyond the point of normal human compassion by their mothers and fathers, who should be their providers and protectors, not their persecutors. Many of these parents seem scarcely old enough to take care of themselves, never mind an infant. Whether they are simply too childish to properly bear the responsibilities that come with bringing new life in the world, or whether their natures are fundamentally rotten and uncaring, these individuals are giving birth to generations of despair that in turn give birth to further generations of despair. Despite the humane policies our caring society and its agents, the government, their numbers seem to be flourishing, not receding. It were as if countless interventions by our Social Services can do nothing to improve the lot of what has been called an ‘under-class’, though I would say the issue has rather less to do with class and rather more to do with breeding, so that we might better describe them as an ‘under-breed’.
Recent years have brought forth the most shocking string of stories, though it must be noted that the roots of such events grow not in the space of a few years, but in the slightly less than two decades it takes to gestate these emergent adults, who whilst sexually mature are under-developed in seemingly all other regards of being able to fend and provide for themselves and their own offspring. This very week, we heard about the newborn arrival of a fifteen year old mother, and thirteen year old father. The new baby was conceived whilst the father was merely twelve. In The Sun, the pint-sized pater of Eastbourne was said to have naively expressed, no doubt in exchange for an interview fee, his intention to be a ‘great’ father to his child, though he was unable to account for how his pocket money would cover the costs of nappies. A few months earlier, we read of the imprisonment of one dam, a Ms. Matthews of Dewsbury, mother to seven children by five different fathers. Ms. Matthews plotted the kidnap of her nine year old daughter in order to gain a reward of £50,000 from a national newspaper, and of another £500 from a kind and generous neighbour who had been taken in by her deception. Ms. Matthews repeatedly lied and connived, playing on the sympathies of anyone who would listen, and causing the police force to waste £3.2m searching for a daughter which the mother knew had been drugged and hidden at an accomplice’s house. There are, of course, many more, and some far more wretched stories of abuse and neglect of our nation’s young, which range in their awfulness from battery to incest, and in which common themes are the absence of a reliable head of the family and other authority figures, the dependence on benefits as a source of income, the irresponsibility of parents to take care of their children and the pressure placed on welfare agencies to occupy the vacuum created without resorting to the drastic tactic of removing child from parent. I have no need to recount them all, as you will be familiar with them already. Instead, I would like to share with you a new proposal I have for preventing the children of irresponsible parents in Britain from becoming an intolerable burden to their parents or country, but instead will give them a life that will benefit the child, the parents, and the general public.
The astute reader will have noticed here some similarities between Prince Zeis’ letter, and a well-known work of 1729, sometimes referred to as ‘A Modest Proposal‘. I congratulate those readers who spotted the connection. However, any suggestion that the letter is a satire in the same vein was dispelled when Prince Zeis goes on to write:
Reflecting on the challenges faced in this day and age, my thoughts turned to the genius of a pamphlet commonly known as ‘A Modest Proposal’, which was published anonymously in the 18th Century and which concerned the treatment of similarly distressed children in Ireland at that time. Though it was published anonymously, ‘A Modest Proposal’ has since been attributed to the satirist Jonathan Swift, but I think this connection is unfortunate. Though Swift was an eloquent man of letters, I doubt the real author of ‘A Modest Proposal’ wrote in jest. I rather believe that it was convenient to dismiss it as satire, rather than embrace the conclusions of this radical but worthy manifesto for improving the lot of the Irish people in general, and its children in particular. Let me assure you that my new proposal, whilst far less barbarous than that given in ‘A Modest Proposal’, is every bit as serious.
Today, there is only one job available in our society that requires no interview, needs no qualifications, necessitates no prior experience, has no minimum age limit other than that stipulated by our own biological clocks, permits no mechanism for being dismissed, and which guarantees a lifetime of pay and lodging to anybody who applies. That is the job of bringing a child into the world. In an inversion of our values, we entrust this solemn responsibility to people we would not trust with the most menial roles in our workforce. The consequence is that it becomes the preferred career path for anyone unable to countenance the hardships and sacrifice taken on by those of us who first make a living for ourselves, and having done so, only then look to share it by raising a family. In the cruelest irony of all, those that work first, and parent second, find themselves getting older and older before they can afford to start a family, not least because of the burdens of paying a share of their income to feed the mouths brought into this world by those who are less temperate, disciplined and restrained. Sex education is folly, as our young adults are perfectly versed in the knowledge they really need to survive and prosper, which is not one of abstinence, strong relationships, or even of using contraception when enjoying the pleasures of the flesh, but which is instead an understanding of how to wring wealth from the welfare society will provide more for them, and which increases the rewards for every newborn dependent that suckles from it.
We cannot undo what has been done. Children once born cannot be unborn. We, as a communty, must take care and cherish every life, even if the parents are unable to do their fit and proper part. However, we must find a way to break the cycle of dependency, whereby the child learns their values from the parent, and in turn mimics their ambition of spending a life idling and enjoying the comforts gifted by the state. We must find something productive for these children to do, instead of just growing up to emulate their parents, breed more children, and expect that somebody else will pay for their health care and education, so that when they too reach adolescence, they will also line up for the guaranteed job of becoming a parent. Of course, there are people in Britain that want to work, so this proposal is by no means meant to cover all of them. Nevertheless, the recent reports of an increase in employment by foreigners living in Britain, and a similar decrease in jobs done by Brits during the same period, tells its own story that there are jobs but that many Brits lack the skills and motivation to get them. This should be little wonder, that jobs are going to hardworking foreigners whilst we educate a slice of our own people to take it for granted that its needs will be catered for. I use the words ‘our people’, for although my ancestors were the rulers of the country of Delfthia, and I still live in hope of the resurrection of this lost zion, I now consider Britain to be my home, and I wish to share some of the wisdom that my forebears used when they governed their tiny but unspoiled kingdom.
It is no wonder British children are in the mess that they are. If their parents were not bad enough, take a look at their role models. A young lady who goes by the remarkable name of Peaches Geldof was in the public eye recently because of her marraige, and then soon after because of her divorce. Ms. Geldof is not yet twenty years of age, but can already claim a failed marriage. The trivialization of a sacred institution diminishes us all. Thankfully, the union was without progeny, but it still sets a terrible example to our young, especially as Ms. Geldof has been held up as an example and spokesperson for her age group. Her father Bob should smack her legs, except that would probably lead to his punishment in this topsy-turvy world. Part of the reason for our young lacking ambition is that everything is presented to them as being available, no matter how ridiculous or unrealistic that might seem. Take a look at all the extraordinarily ordinary “celebrities” whose only virtue seems to be being just like any other oik, except they somehow have become well-connected by virtue of birth or being randomly chosen for so-called “reality” television. None of them seem to have ever done a proper job, but they are paraded everywhere, fueling the unrealistic ambitions of our youth who imagine that they, too, will somehow land careers as singers and fashion models, and it is just a matter of time until they are ‘discovered’. There are many examples…
For the sake of brevity, I have not republished the next twelve pages of Prince Zeis’ letter, which contains an exhaustive A to Z list of every person in the public eye that the Prince considers to have attained a lucrative job in the absence of any talent. As a summary, the list included such people as Keith Allan, Lilly Allan, Tim Allen, and Alex Zane. I only skim-read the names between A and Z, but I think perhaps Gary Lineker and Prince Harry were in the litany.
At the same time we are facing a unprecedented array of crises. There is a housing crisis, with fewer and fewer homes being built to house our ever-larger population and too few able to afford the houses that have been built; a financial crisis during which we must also borrow from ‘our’ children (whose children? not the ones trained to live on benefits!) to create jobs whilst continuing to pay benefits to the workshy; and an environmental crisis as we burn the last of our fossil fuels, and turn more and more of this green and pleasant land into brown and ugly housing estates. There is a solution. Unlike the anonymous author of ‘A Modest Proposal’, I am not advocating the eating of babies. Though brilliant, his policy could be considered rather unethical in our day and age, and was not taken seriously enough even in his own. However, I did wonder if there was a productive use to which our children could be put. Whilst mulling this over, I by chance found myself watching a rather entertaining fantasy movie on the television. This film is known by the name of ‘The Matrix’. I gather it is very well known, but if you are not familiar with the plot, let me summarize for it you. In the future, the human race are hypnotized by machines into thinking they are living ordinary lives, when in fact everybody sits in a warm bath of goo, has their food and waste supplied and removed by tubes, and spend all their time playing one big video game. The game is so realistic, and the people have played it since such an early age, that they believe the game is reality and have no idea what the reality of their situation is. In the story, one character discovers he is in the game, and decides to rebel, swapping a life in which he had a successful IT career, and all the advantages that come with it in terms of housing, recreation, social life, fashionable clothes etc, for a life of wearing rags and serving as crew on some ghastly floating ‘ship’ which roams a barren ugly Earth and where the only food is snot. Another, rather more rational crew member on his ship decides he would rather be back playing the game, and the story unfolds accordingly as the protagonist and antagonist conspire to fulfill their respective ambitions. In this fictional future, the reason given for why the machines, who rule the world, should choose to keep the humans alive in a game-playing alternative reality is that they use these people as a source of energy. Whilst watching this movie, and thinking about ‘The Modest Proposal’, a solution came to me in a moment like that when Achimedes shouted “Eureka”! What do we have too much of? People. What do we have too little of? Energy. It appears to me that now, uniquely in history, we have an opportunity to solve our environmental difficulties by utilizing the most renewable resource of all, which is our own ever-climbing livestock of human beings.
People are a wonderful resource, and deeply underexploited, as can be seen from the growing numbers of unemployed. It is cheap, easy and enjoyable to make new people, which is why individuals of even extremely limited ambition and accomplishment continue to do so in large numbers. Unlike most jobs, making children requires no education, as proven by the failure of so much education designed to discourage baby-making. We have six billion people on the planet already, and the number keeps rising every moment. There can be no doubt that of all the commodities, the one least likely to be in short supply is the supply of new people.
Of course, we could not all live in a world of an alternate reality. There are still many roles that can only be performed by people in the real world. Not everybody would be willing to live their life in a fantasy. However, as is evident from so much of our culture, many others already do live a life of total fantasy. My proposal has the merit of being purely voluntary in nature. It will give people, and most especially the children who are likeliest to see the advantages compared to being ill-treated at home, the option, if they desire, to swap their life of meaningless diversions and, quite often, drug addiction, and replace it with one of simple, responsibility-free enjoyment, whilst making a real contribution to the bid to reduce global warming.
Where I disagree with the author of ‘The Modest Proposal’ is that his proposal, for breeding the children of the poor to be sold as food, left the children with no say in how their lives turned out. I believe my proposal could be made to work on a purely voluntary basis, as agreed to by both parents and children. Parents would receive a one-off financial reward for permitting the children to join the programme. Children would enjoy a lifetime of bliss, never needing to grow up or take on adult responsibilities, and having all their most compelling needs taken care of. I also believe my proposal can be realized with technology currently available today.
In ‘The Matrix’, the machines that ruled the world went to great trouble to fool people into thinking the virtual reality they inhabited was real. I see no reason why they should have done that. Given the choice of eating snot and knowing about it, and eating snot through a tube but being given the sensation of eating lobster, I think a great many people would gladly aid and abet the creation of a delusion that would help them to escape a grim reality. It must be just the same for many inhabitants of council houses up and down our country. Is not the rise of reality television, proof, if any were needed, that people live their lives in a fantasy, escaping their wretched reality by imagining themselves as stars and celebrities, irrespective of their complete lack of talent, the vacancy in place of where their self-discipline and dedication should be, and, in short, their total unwillingness to do a hard day’s work? I say we should just give a great many of these people what they want. My programme would involve running a roadshow, going up and down the country, offering to enroll anybody who is willing in special green energy programme. Once in the programme, the participants would spend every day lying in a bath, entertained by a full package of satellite television channels and all the latest video games, being fed through a tube and able to email and text their mates without ever needing to leave home, do a day’s work, sign on, lie in order to claim benefits or, in short, anything else. That offer would be topped up a guarantee of limitless drugs of any description: alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, temazepam, nicotine or any narcotic cocktail that is imaginable, all of which would be fed intravenously through the feeding tube for a guaranteed effective high. This is an offer that I believe would have very many willing takers. Once those people have been locked away in their entertainment cells, which would be roughly the same size as prison cells, but so much better occupied because there would be no need to first commit a crime, we would use the same technology as described in ‘The Matrix’ to extract the occupant’s body heat and hence provide cheap and plentiful power for the reduced population living outside. I think the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.
Firstly, the plan will give young people a purpose in life which currently they lack, alleviate them from the burden of going to schools when they see no value in education and hence will not prosper from it, and consequently reduce the problem of truancy.
Secondly, the parents who so willingly breed, but otherwise have little interest in their offspring, will receive the financial rewards they desire without the need to care for their little ones.
Thirdly, human beings being plentiful, whereas our fuel reserves are dwindling, we shall have a sustainable long-term source of power which is not dependent on the willingness of other nations to provide it to us and which we can ably provide more of as needed.
Fourthly, by giving drug takers a simple and happy solution of how to provide for their addictions, we will reduce their stress and discomfort, remove them from places where they might be a bad influence for others, and greatly diminish the extent of robbery and theft used to finance their drug-taking and which currently fuels organized crime.
Fifthly, by sanctioning and controlling the production and import of drugs for the purpose of this programme, the government will be able to establish long-term and beneficial relations with drug-producers at home and overseas, and thus use this new economic footing to combat and diminish the vital connections between the illicit drugs trade and terrorism. The government will also be able to reduce the overall cost of drugs manufacture and importation, as borne by the economy as a whole, by negotiating bulk purchasing rates in a similar fashion to that used to procure pharmaceuticals for the National Health Service.
Sixthly, by keeping a large segment of the population happy and occupied on a permanent basis, whilst housed in only relatively small blocks by virtue of the narcotic and audio-visual entertainment options offered, the pressure on many other aspects of life will be reduced for the remainder of the populous. Challenges to public transport, pollution levels, greenbelt preservation, food production, the supply of quality housing and even providing for our energy needs will be diminished in line with the increase of residents in the programme’s virtual-reality cells.
Seventhly, although I expect that medical science will face some challenges in maintaining the health of the programme’s inhabitants, who will be denied the opportunity to leave the cells and hence to gain ordinary exercise, I believe there will be a number of trade-offs that will more than compensate overall. Providing an exercise bike in the cellrooms might afford an additional mechanism of generating electricity, whilst offering a secondary form of entertainment analogous to a hamster’s wheel. With that in mind, it might be better to give the occupants wheels they can run inside instead of bikes, but I am not sure if constraints on the dimensions of each room would preclude this. What is certain is that limiting the calorie intake fed to the programme’s occupants, as supplied through their individual feeding tubes, will solve the problem of the propensity to obesity, whilst also making it easier for the nutritional needs of the rest of the population to be sourced from local, organic farms.
Many other advantages might be enumerated. For example, if the population thus occupied starts to outgrow our needs, we may be able to sell the energy they produce to other nations, or better still, just export a number of the programme’s inhabitants to other countries and allow them to perform the same energy-generating role overseas. This export might be particularly lucrative when focused on colder nations like Canada or Scandinavia, where instead of using body heat to generate energy, it might be more suitable to build commercial apartment blocks with narrow cells in the walls between each residence, and use the combined bodyheat to keep the whole building warm.
In the words of ‘The Modest Proposal’, let no man talk to me of other expedients: Of stopping the practice of rewarding the parents for the creation of the child: Of turning the right to reproduce into the privilege it should be: Of licensing and of taxing mothers for every birth beyond the first two or three: Of terminating pregnancies in very young mothers for the good of society, if not their health: Of sterilizing the serial breeders who cannot exercise self-control: Of re-balancing the rights of a parent to have children with the rights of everyone else not to be mandated to feed, clothe, educate and protect those children when the parents will not or cannot: Of teaching our young adults that creating new life is itself a lifelong pleasure, commitment and responsibility, not the byproduct of a momentary thrill and a fast track to lifelong economic security and indolence. Lastly, of putting a spirit of fortitude, self-reliance and purpose into the wastrel dependents who ask not how society should provide for them, but only that society should provide for them. Such plans would be outlandish and incredible, and we sorely need to be practical if the rising under-breed is not to get out of control.
I have also sent similar letters to my MP, the Prime Minister, the EU and the Secretary-General of the UN. Whilst I anticipate some scepticism, I am hoping that with the support of prominent individuals like yourself, it will be only a matter of time before public sympathy is won over to the cause and the government institutes a nationwide plan of the type I suppose. I hope I can count on your backing in raising awareness of this bold but very necessary plan to your readers. If this plan is not accepted, I should be very glad so long as some other plan, with as realistic a hope of success, is offered instead. There may be other proposals, like mine, but superior to it, but which lie disregarded or unpronounced because good men fear that they will be held to ridicule, that they will suffer scorn for raising them and expounding their merits, and because self-serving and narrow groups find greater advantage in raping the majority of our nation, and making many pay the price, than in tackling the problems of the minority, and thus reducing the cost to our society. These are the new proposals that we need, else the present conditions will merely continue to encourage a growth in the number of dependents, the number of suffering children brought into the world by uncaring or ill-equipped parents, and the burden placed on the remainder of us, so that if tackled later, the solutions must necessarily be more pronounced and more radical in order to redress the balance and restore equity amongst our people.
I can assure you, from my heart, that I have nothing to gain from making this proposal. It is meant only for the good of my fellow citizens, except in so much as I am a citizen, and would hence benefit equally as much as everyone else. My children are grown up and live productive lives, and my wife is beyond her child-bearing years, so I would never be a beneficiary of the incentive payments outlined above.
Prince Karl Zeis of the Royal House of Delfthia
As Prince Zeis did ask, I felt obliged to publish his letter, though I must now admit I noticed several flaws in the argument. In particular, I am not sure that we have a useful technology for recycling body heat. For example, I am not sure how body heat could be effectively used for making a cup of tea. Nevertheless, it might be that ingenious architects can find ways to include small room-cells within the design of new houses, perhaps located in basements or roofs, and hence provide under-floor heating or enhanced loft insulation. I also imagine some programme entrants might have second thoughts and ask to be released. Perhaps if they were handcuffed to their Playstation controller, so they could never put it down, and had the screen strapped to their eyes like googles, this might help them to better forget about the outside world completely. Nevertheless, despite the flaws in his proposal, at least the Prince is trying to come up with solutions to the problems our society face. If people do not come up with sensible solutions now, I dread to think what proposals the Prince might promote in future…