In "A Modest Proposal," Swift satirizes the not-so-benign neglect of Ireland by its British colonial overlords. In the guise of a learned scientific paper, Swift puts forward the idea that the British can solve a number of problems in relation to the administration of Ireland by the simple expedient of allowing the natives to breed children for meat.
The author claims that his modest proposal will solve the problem of poverty. In Swift's time, poverty in Ireland was endemic and grinding, exacerbated by the indifference of British administrators. In the "Proposal," the author claims that allowing Irish people to breed children for meat will greatly reduce poverty in the Emerald Isle. With such a regular supply of food available, a prosperous new industry will emerge. People will be able to sell their children for meat, thus giving them a respectable living, instead of being forced to beg on the streets as they currently do.
Furthermore, the author goes on to say, his proposal will substantially reduce hunger. Even if the poor folk of Ireland are unable or unwilling to sell their children for meat, they can always eat them themselves. Neither they nor their families need ever go hungry again. Once more, Swift's biting satire has a serious target. Famines and chronic food shortages were a constant feature of Irish life, especially in the countryside, where the vast majority lived.