05/08/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Modest Proposal

On opening our newspaper this morning (our "newspaper of record"), we find an Op-Ed essay arguing that human morality has been provided to us by Darwinian evolution (individual selection, group selection, but via genes).

This profound insight has been floating at various intellectual levels for some time now, floating like a balloon kicked upwards at intervals by gold coins thrown at it by various foundations in their continuing search to unite science and religion.

Although we live in a society ordinarily plagued by many warts and blemishes, we are now at the beginning of an exceptional huge boil of economic depression that threatens to make us all sick for many years to come. At this dark moment, we need to examine any profound insight about human behavior to see whether it can be of some help to us in our current crisis.

What seems apparent is that the exciting idea that human morality is a consequence of Darwinian evolution is not only a profound idea but also a pregnant idea. It produces corollary ideas, one after the other, ideas popping out and immediately crying for attention. One highly important corollary idea is that if human morality is a consequence of Darwinian evolution, then the transmission from one generation to the next is certainly hereditary -- a natural selection of genes. A second corollary is that lesser morality in certain individuals must also be a consequence of evolution and genetics. Apparently, those people with less morality than the rest of us are in a lineage that has been moving more slowly on the Darwinian trail, or perhaps -- as a frightful recrudescence of a Malleus Maleficarum -- not more slowly but actually standing still.

Whatever their situation, these people (we can call them "immoralistas"), immoral by dint of retarded Darwinian evolution, are among us, aggravating (if not the cause of) our current festering boil of economic decline and despair. As we cogitate, what comes to mind is that we can and ought to help the human species in its grand march along the trail of Darwinian evolution to a shining super-morality -- and not only help the species but also help ourselves in our current time of hardship.

My modest proposal about the immoralistas among us is not at all profound, certainly not as profound as the seminal idea of Darwinian human morality. On the contrary, my proposal about the immoralistas is simple: I propose that we locate all immoralista pregnant mothers (high density in inner cities but maybe also in Connecticut suburbs?), and that as soon as they deliver their morally retarded immoralista progeny, we remove the infants and make them available to special restaurants. The immoralista infants will be prepared, cooked, and served as a gourmet delicacy in upscale establishments, but also as "immoralista burgers" in more familiar eateries where food is served without a wine list.

There's no need to worry about genetic transmission through food. There's no evidence that it can happen. Eating immoralista babies will not corrupt our moral gene pool.

This modest proposal about the immoralista problem will not only solve the problem, it will put into place an important stimulus package for the restaurant industry, which is apparently already sliding into a deep sinkhole. Another advantage is that if severe hard times are indeed ahead of us, at least we can be assured that not all of us will starve to death. There will be meat for us. We can even imagine a revival of magazine publishing as new magazines are devoted to the finer points of immoralista cooking and dining. There will be new shows about immoralista food on the Food Network, but since that network already has so many people licking their television screens, that particular economic effect might be negligible.

Of course, even a modest proposal of this kind will require Congressional legislation, but a Bachmann-Cantor-Boehner bill, especially if it's supported by our "newspaper of record", might be the first important piece of Republican lawmaking this year. It can happen. If it's indeed all according to Darwin, it will happen sooner or later.