Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" was written in a time when Ireland was in great need of help due to poverty and over population. Swift wrote this proposal to the English to complain of its horrible treatment and to give some way to try to help Ireland out of being over populated and out of poverty. The conditions in Ireland at this time were very unfavorable if one was not from a wealthy family. Swift stated that one was unlucky to be born in Ireland at that time because of the poor conditions of the county. The price of rent was too high for many to afford a home and land was also very expensive.

People had to deal with these high prices by raising the price of cattle and their crops to pay for their land. Ireland had no way of making money from exporting goods because they were not allowed to do so. Even some of the finest products made in Ireland were not bought by the Irish, instead they were buying products that were imported from England. Because of this, the Irish shopkeepers and craftsmen were making very little to no money at all. A country can not be a wealthy one if it does not export any goods. These are some of the conditions that led to some of the poverty in Ireland at that time.

England at this time was a very wealthy country and viewed Ireland as a somewhat of an eyesore. Swift stated that if one was not born in Ireland there would be no want or desire to go and live there. The only reason that people of wealth went to Ireland was to visit other wealthy families that were scarcely scattered throughout the country. The English deserve much of the blame for the poverty because Ireland was a conquered land, a colony of England's.

Swift wrote this proposal to the English to let them know of the horrible treatment they were getting and tried to figure out some sort of solution. As a preacher, Swift noticed the young women in the streets with many of their children following the around begging for food from anyone and everyone. He thought that this proposal would help this situation in which he was seeing. In his mind this proposal would solve the problems of overpopulation and poverty, but others might have thought of this as absurd.

The women would raise their children till the age of one, then sell them to wealthy families for a succulent meal. Thus there would be fewer people begging on the street and the woman would in return have some money in her pocket. Today people may not know whether to laugh or cry in disgust at Swift's proposal. In the 18th century this concept might have been all right to write about, but today nobody in their right mind would ever think of doing something like this to reduce poverty.