Swift's proposer (an economist) suggests that Ireland could solve its poverty and overpopulation problems if its poor people would rear children, kill them, and sell them as food.
This satirical work shows Swift's sympathy for Ireland’s poor, oppressed Catholic population, as well as his anger toward wealthy Irish landowners and absentee English landlords, who were gouging Irish peasants with outrageously high land rents. (Note the proposer's statement, "The English are devouring the Irish.") It also demonstrates Swift's frustration with England’s Parliament for not protecting the Irish and with the Irish people for not taking action to solve their own problems.
Swift also mocks a popular theory of British economists of the period: that people constituted the real wealth of a country.