Return to Swift Magazine

Return to Modest Proposal #1

In which we address:

As our fine country explores the frontier of e-business, gorges itself on a swelling stock market, and attempts to automate all of our daily tasks except (so far) exercise, our traditional sources of energy are clearly being depleted. We need a new solution: one that does not require us to negotiate with hostile foreign nations, as we must for fossil fuels, or with smug, sanctimonious nature-lovers, as we must for solar and wind power. Meanwhile, the same prosperity that has created a dearth of useful energy has created a sizeable excess of calories. As labor-saving devices proliferate to the point where many of us get sore just from vigorous channel-surfing, our gravitational pull has skyrocketed at the expense of our self-esteem. But if the proposal I am about to lay out is adopted, our fat will soon be seen not as a problem but as a solution.

For after all, what is fat but energy surplus? And if we are truly desperate for new sources of energy, why try to reduce our supply of this surplus rather than seizing the day and harvesting it? Imagine the untold amounts of energy that our formidable waists and flabby stomachs store! Here at last is America's great natural resource, a source of energy that dwarfs that of all other nations. The Egyptian civilization was built around the silt of the Nile; Britain's industrial revolution had coal to thank for its success; America's fat is the fuel for its digital age! Why stick to sources of energy found primarily in other parts of the world, when right at home we have the lion's share of this resource? And why on earth should we try wastefully to "burn it off," when we can be using it for the future of our civilization? I cringe at the thought of each hour spent in the gym, each apple enjoyed in place of a pack of Hostess; for in these we have thrown away part of our future. Fortunately, more than enough remains.

I am no scientist, and so I will not pretend to know exactly how we are to tap this surplus energy. I'm sure that if American talent is devoted to the question, it will succeed, as it always has before. But I will lay out some conjecture, in order to convince the reader that such a thing can indeed be done. We could provide free lipsuction treatment, in which we suck away excess fat through a tube; the tube could then be directed to a turbine, and the fat flowing through it would rotate the turbine, producing energy. This would require a steady stream of fat, so we could set up a staggered system to make sure someone is always plugged into any given tube; alternately, we could feed the subject well-marbled beef even as he or she sits at the machine. In the second case, being drained for energy would be a sort of job; and what American would turn down an hourly wage for sitting still and eating marbled beef? Add in a television, and such a position would become more sought after than the Presidency.

Obviously, then, it is possible to turn one of our greatest liabilities into one of our greatest assets, and establish the glory of America through the obesity of its citizens. And just think of the beneficial effects this would have on our national self-image. Currently, as obesity is looked down upon, people are willing to deprive themselves of the divinity of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Steak 'N Shake just to lose a few pounds. But with our proposed solution, we will no longer be ashamed of who we are, and we will no longer avoid the foods that make life worth living. Twinkies, chili cheese fries, and chicken fried steak will be staples at every restaurant from the smallest coffee shop to the most fashionable eatery; in fact, the demand for deep-fried Mexican food will probably assist our culture in better integrating Hispanic Americans. Gone will be the difficult, futile work of exercise and diets; instead, the American tendency toward complete inactivity will be more fully realized than ever before. We will no longer be ashamed of our laziness or our fatty foods; we will hold our heads high and stick out our triple chins.

A change in national attitude toward obesity will be inevitable. We will jettison our skinny, non-energy-producing idols, such as Cindy Crawford and Gwyneth Paltrow, in favor of the able-godied guardians of our future, such as Drew Carey, Rush Limbaugh, Eric Cartman, and your mother. Fast food restaurants will become national institutions, while pretentious restaurants whose menus center around tofu will go the way of Coke II. We will eat, lie down, sit around, and eat some more, in harmony and mutual acceptance.

It should now be clear to the reader that our fat is our future. I will close with a word of practical advice. While we develop the scientific breakthrough that will make this revolution possible, don't wait to stockpile. Start amassing wealth today. Every french fry, every hot dog and hamburger, every Philly Cheese Steak, is an investment in the world. The future of the human race is in our stomachs.