An Immodest Proposal: A Satire for Our Time

An Immodest Proposal: A Satire for Our Time

By Rabbi Corinne Copnick

Most literate people in the English-speaking world have heard of Jonathan Swift, a 19th century satirist of considerable stature, perhaps best known as the author of Gulliver’s Travels. Swift was also infamous for creating a furor in his time: He suggested to the English (long perceived in Ireland as oppressors) that the famine in Ireland was so severe that the Irish, it was said, were eating grass because no potatoes could be found on the Emerald Isle. Swift’s satirical essay, A Modest Proposal, advised the Irish of an alternative: the various ways their children could be prepared for eating – roasting, for example. This gustatory procedure would at once alleviate the hunger of the Irish and reduce a major contributor to poverty, excessive procreation. Swift’s politically incorrect satire was received with outrage, but it did serve his purpose of drawing world attention to the extreme poverty and associated hardship the Irish were experiencing.

Today, almost two decades into the 21st century, doctors and patients and those in power alike – all agree that the U.S. health system is in urgent need of repair, but few are agreed on how to fix it. Of course, politicians and armchair critics make proposals all the time, many of them politically incorrect. Hopefully we have progressed in compassion and concern since the 19th century.

Therefore, as an aging person born in Canada (a country that has a national universal healthcare system) and now also a U.S. citizen, I am taking a lesson from Jonathan Swift. So I am offering a totally immodest, politically incorrect proposal: It’s time to think out of the box, right? It’s time to alleviate the healthcare dilemma currently faced by the growing demographic of elderly people in America.  

My immodest (satirical, of course!) proposal is two-pronged. It is not only aimed at helping the elderly, but it will also resolve the embarrassing problem the U.S. is facing with millions of undocumented, mainly Hispanic, workers on its hands. Most are from Mexico, but reportedly that stream has recently slowed, while others fleeing from persecution or untenable situations in diverse, war-torn countries continue to seek refuge in the U.S. In any case, by one means or another, many would-be immigrants have crossed the border illegally and remain in the U.S., where they work fearfully “under the table” in a shadow world.

This situation is complicated by the “Dreamers,” brought to this country by their parents as children and raised and educated in America. This is the country they know and love. Most are wonderful young people who can potentially contribute a great deal to the U.S. It seems heartless, cruel in fact, to force them to leave, to abandon their dreams of elevating themselves and their families.

My simple solution – a give-and-take population transfer — could help our healthcare system and our immigration headache at the same time. Population transfer, you suggest? It sounds awful. How does it work?

How it works:

By giving de facto recognition to the millions of illegal immigrants who are already here. By letting them stay here with conditional visas, and with the goal of eventually becoming citizens who pay taxes and thus easing the burden on our health system. In return, a population transfer will be arranged of equivalent millions of our most elderly and infirm citizens — who are also a burden that our health system is presently ill equipped to carry.

People are living longer and longer, that’s wonderful. But how are we supposed to care for “seniors” in their eighties, nineties, and more — especially as the baby boomers have already entered the crowded territory of the aging, if not yet the aged?  My proposal suggests that, instead of warehousing people who are living too long in crowded nursing homes, why not transport them to the sunny climes of Mexico, where they can be treated by the excellent medical expertise and far less expensive drugs of the Mexican health system. This population transfer is really an innovative kind of tourism!

Preposterous, you say? Where will a poor country like Mexico find the financial resources to build hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and therapeutic resources for the elderly and infirm?

Unnecessary to worry about it, I say! There is indeed a financial solution if we put on our collective thinking caps. Yes, this proposal should be very attractive financially to the drug cartels. This is an excellent way to improve their public image and to show they are really good corporate citizens. They can even throw plenty of pain-relieving marijuana and even cocaine and other drugs into the mix – for medicinal purposes, of course. What a great opportunity to launder drug money earned internationally in a way that will help U.S. society! No need to use foreign banks or dubious real estate projects.

Additionally, relatives will be much happier to visit the elderly in healthcare spots like Rosario Beach (decorated in celebratory Mexican colors) rather than in the depressing environments of nursing homes. This elderly population can be transported to open air locales renowned as pleasant spots to visit. Think of Cabo San Lucas, Puerta Vallarta, Acapulco. Or on the east coast, Cancun, Cozumel. Who wouldn’t want to live in these beautiful spaces so close to nature?

Tended by caring Mexican doctors and nurses, our elderly can experience the healing air and nutrients brought by the caressing waves of the sea. They can expose their arthritic limbs and aching joints to the warm climate and consume health-giving veggies like chopped cactus with onions and seaweed, along with a steady diet of seafood (known to be healthier than red meat and easier on cholesterol levels). All this totally at the cost of the Mexican government (instead of a wall at the border) via some of its most maligned citizens. Of course, relatives will be much happier to visit the elderly in health spots like Puerta Vallarta or Cozumel rather than in the depressing environments of nursing homes. Mexico is a great place to have a face lift and other cosmetic enhancements while they visit.

And since the elderly population is known to have a high rate of attrition as their life spans come to an end (hopefully from natural causes in this health-giving atmosphere), the worrisome high cost of funerals can also be alleviated. No cemetery plots or tack-on charges are involved. No cremating of dear ones and scattering of ashes. Shrouded, deceased residents of these beach communities will simply be placed reverently at the edge of the sea to be swept away by the tide, thereby enriching the ocean and its inhabitants with the useful nutrients of the human body.

Naturally, suitable accompanying ritual ceremonies will be created to mark their passing. I envision a North America-wide (Canada, the U.S., and Mexico are all part of North America) competition among our literary and musical artists for the finest compositions designed to accompany our human vessels to the receptive depths of the ocean, a case of God’s creatures returning to nature’s comforting arms.

Also, since recent polls show that people respond to change best in slow increments, perhaps the elderly could first be introduced to the concept of population transfer with assistance from our marketing community. Flashy brochures will feature free, three-day inspection trips with all-you-can-eat buffets. Casinos (again courtesy of organized crime) that accept U.S. credit cards will line locales like Rosario Beach at one-mile intervals so that the elderly don’t have to travel too far in the free beach carts. Plenty of nickel slot machines will be available. It will be fun, fun, fun (just like Las Vegas) to be transported to a beach-healthcare community in Mexico.

I am the first to admit that this proposal is in its initial stages and may have to be tweaked a little by Congress. However, at least it does not propose that we eat our elderly and infirm.

©️Corinne Copnick, Los Angeles, 2017. All rights reserved.