Reader Satire: A modern modest proposal


Hoboken411 reader “Hobokeño” decided to get a bit creative with the recent trouble Hoboken has been having lately – and has penned an interesting piece for all of you to read.

A Modern Modest Proposal for A New Hoboken – With Apologies to Mr. Swift
It is with a heavy heart that I come to admit in these dark days that perhaps the apocalypse is nigh.

Each weekend the heathen hordes descend upon our poor village in their strange costume and tribal paint. Gyrating to their awful drums and fueled into a frenzy by copious amounts of strange brews and exotic mind altering substances they come forth to play, pillage, fight, and mate leaving only litter and money in their wake. Our leaders have begun to fight amongst themselves as the great thinkers of our community who once presided over a respected altar of government now only have time for public shows of tribalism and fierce devotion to antiquated loyalties. The previously much effective yet ancient method of collecting revenue via taxation has suddenly come under threat and some have even suggested that the growth of our civilization may have accelerated at such a pace as to, unthinkably, make that same civilization extinct.

hoboken apocalypse hose shotgun broom - Reader Satire: A modern modest proposal

Fortunately with the heathen hordes of pillaging nomads, here for nothing more than a convenient setting for their mating rituals, has come something else. In a stroke of brilliance not seen since Alexander the Great many of the invading hosts have settled here. In staying and raising their young amongst us, the uncivilized tribes, they have brought us, and I must believe this for they tell me it is true: ENLIGHTENMENT. As the Conquistadors with the Mayans, the English or French with the Caribe, or throughout Polynesia, civilization has been brought to those of us existing in the darkness of ignorance through the arrival of these new people. For with their strange customs, pestilence, noise, and other things we see as evil because of our ignorance and lack of appreciation, they have also brought modern government, education, a new religion, and general salvation from the road to damnation my fellow citizens had previously been traveling.

Sadly despite the efforts of our new citizens, nay liberators from ignorance, our community is still yet at the brink of destruction. So many of the older inhabitants of what was heretofore a primal wasteland are recalcitrant to accept the enlightenment upon us that once again our civilization finds itself in jeopardy. We have not been able to responsibly care for the great and powerful commodity that the new peoples have brought us: money. Thus as our old tribal leaders and our new saviors battle for control of my fellow citizens hearts and minds, taxation continues, money while so powerful is lost so easily, and suspicion, alienation, and violence become the norm. It is my fear based upon recent developments that public tarings, defenestrations, and other violence either real or virtual (i.e. conducted on the new peoples’ sacred and secret altar of internet) may soon replace the shouting, posturing, and generalized discord that is our present ambience.

These great fears have however stimulated even myself, a mere indigenous boy of limited means, to come upon a proposal that if followed may be the salvation of our burgeoning new utopia.


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(A Modern Modest Proposal for Hoboken, continuted…)

Immediately all citizens of Hoboken shall be issued a citizen’s kit containing three items: a hose, a shotgun, and a broom. It is my belief that almost any situation the modern citizen is confronted with may be resolved with the contents of this kit. Fire resolved with the hose, robbery or violence with the shotgun, and debris or un-cleanliness with the broom. Training and instruction would be provided to those citizens worthy enough to have access to the special communication method of the civilized peoples: blogs. The kits could be easily assembled from a major retailer for under $500.00. Training costs would be minimal through the use of these blogs which have the ability to display information, embed video, and have been ascertained to present only data this is absolutely true, guaranteed accurate, and completely impartial. With each of our citizens equipped and trained the City could immediately disband the police, fire, and sanitation departments as well as most other departments within public safety and environmental services. The simplicity of this plan is its true beauty as I will now explain. In the case of fire the citizen is authorized to deploy his or her hose. The resultant mess that is left after correction of this fire is then cleaned away by the broom. There has never been a better example of cost free, seamless, interdepartmental cooperation. This is all accomplished without the need for supervisors, management, chiefs, or instruction of any kind. Should the unthinkable happen and a citizen is required to deploy the shotgun the resultant aftermath is then cleared with a combination of broom AND hose. Once again seamless, efficient coordination of what are now various, costly municipal agencies. Clearly the monetary savings to our community would be enormous.

Of course many people would be concerned that the average resident would not be able to complete the training properly despite having access to the all-mighty and all-truthful internet. This need not preoccupy your minds as there is a second arm of the proposal which I shall now introduce: EDUCATION. All citizens will be responsible for education themselves to an acceptable degree. In order to prove that this has been accomplished, said citizens will be required to pass an examination. The examination will be both open book and pass/fail. The examination will entail the tested individual to merely open a box. The box will be made such that it must be opened according to a specific set of instructions that is posted immediately adjacent to the box during the examination. If the box is not opened or opened correctly it explodes. Instructions for building such a box are readily available on line and without charge from some websites sponsored by non-profit political action groups in the Middle-East. Without bias or the need for any interpretation whatsoever the entire community will know immediately which of us has not passed this test. As our failure would result, obviously in our immediate departure from the community the lesser amongst us are thereby instantly and irreversibly banished so as not to become a burden upon our civilization. We would then be left with a community created of only the most rarefied and superior of our species; a source of envy even to the great Sparta of myth. In the event of test failures (of which I am sure there will be many) various citizen volunteers will be on hand with their issued hoses and brooms to prepare the examination room for the next individual. Once again we observe complete interdepartmental cooperation at no cost for the city. Once the testing policy is in place our community would be able to instantly disband it Board of Education, having been made redundant by the exploding box, and offer its lands for development. These newly developed lands can be used to house more of our civilizing new arrivals or converted to parks. Existing properties and residences will be valued at whatever the enlightened owners think it to be worth as this is a form of valuation I understand is commonly used by those individuals on Wall St. and other parts of the financial community. I, as an indigenous person am incapable of understanding this system by which you assign an imaginary and arbitrary value to your own holdings and everyone else accepts it. However, as our new lords have magnanimously allowed me to retain my own property and assure me they have assigned a fair value to it I am inclined to agree.

This plan shall definitely result in some downsizing of our current population. This is also a benefit as the now flood prone areas inhabited by those individuals could then be reverted to flood plain and tidal marsh which shall then act as a physical barrier from the as of yet unconverted, unenlightened, and uncivilized communities to our south, west, and north. With this isolation and massive surplus of income from our elimination of almost all municipal departments Hoboken then would be instantly converted from the corrupt, hedonistic, Romanesque pit it is today to an educated, enlightened, and wealthy cooperative community. This conversion combined with our newly created physical separation from the lesser portions of Hudson County would perhaps eventually allow us to achieve a greater separation from the teeming hordes yet again. Physically, financially, and intellectually superior and separated our new city-state could then declare its independence from both New Jersey and The United States. With our benevolent democracy of superior beings existing in peace and obvious wealth we could then declare ourselves The Independent Island Nation of Hoboken. We would permit limited tourism allowing others to visit here only to appreciate our natural beauty, quaint architecture (that has been painstaking re-created by former Disney Imagineers after the developers found our original quaint architecture both too original and too much like architecture), and our peaceful diverse population. Later phases of the tourism plan include a small museum for visitors to learn about the uncivilized, fierce, and loud indigenous peoples who inhabited the island before its conversion. Any issues resulting from tourism (i.e. litter, crime, etc.) will of course be resolved by our motivated and enlightened residents with their hose, shotgun, and broom.

It is my hope that all who have spent the time to entertain my modest proposal can appreciate it for its true beauty.

—-an anonymous Hobokeño*

* Hobokeño is a word thought to refer to the once ever-present indigenous peoples of The Independent Island Nation of Hoboken. See also B&R.

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That was pretty damn funny. I anxiously await my hose, gun and broom.


Exactly Dave.. yet at the same time the “New People” look at everyone who is old Hoboken, myself included as some manner of poor little savage that they rescued from the abyss of ignorance. All of us need to “get real” and stop taking ourselves so damn seriously.



“Old” Hoboken wants the $$$ from our “nightlife” tourism” (though no one can seem to explain how the money dumped in bars benefits the city’s income in any way) and from overpriced condos sold to “newcomers.”

The arrogance and indignation of “oldtimers” is astounding. You invited people here (to pick their pockets) and then get indignant when these people want a say in their city.

As a 20 year resident I am still sneered at as a “newcomer” by “old hoboken” including several members of the city council who were outright dismissive and rude to me at a meet and greet political event I attended last year.


What a great Idea! I like the use of the box


Terrific stuff! Thank you for a good laugh.