Jonathan Swift famously gave us A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick. Specifically, he suggested that poor Irish children be sold as food to the wealthy (thus benefiting their families economically):

I grant this food may be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for Landlords, who as they have already devoured most of the Parents, seem to have the best Title to the Children.

Swift begins his satirical essay with much pompous number-crunching of statistics about the poor before moving to the actual proposal to stew, roast, bake, or boil their young.

Similarly, but less famously, William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, made a sarcastic proposal which he imagined could be carried out by number-crunching philanthropists who wished to "solve" the problem of the nation's half-million poor drunkards:

I can imagine a cynical millionaire of the scientific philanthropic school making a clearance of all the drunkards in a district by the simple expedient of an unlimited allowance of alcohol.

General Booth observed that the State of his day (1890) was already a good way down this same road, because its "scientific" love of humanity led it to ignore and despise actual human beings:

The State would only need to go a little further than it goes at present in the way of supplying poison to the community. If, in addition to planting a flaming gin palace at each corner, free to all who enter, it were to supply free gin to all who have attained a certain recognised standard of inebriety, delirium tremens would soon reduce our drunken population to manageable proportions.

Of course, Booth was a Christian (the Salvation Army is actually a church that split off from the English Methodists), and so after noting what cynical millionaires of the scientific philanthropic school could do to the down-and-out, he declares, "that for us is out of the question."

And why is that?

They are all men; all with what the Russian peasants call "a spark of God" in them, which can never be wholly obscured and destroyed while life exists.

So: if you're ever down on your luck, would you prefer to be in the hands of a religious zealot like Booth, or in the hands of the State, or at the mercy of a scientific philanthropist?

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