“-A Ship Is Not Just Steel-”


By: Brooks A. Mick

The great science-fiction writer, Robert A. Heinlein, in his juvenile novel, “Starman Jones,” had a paragraph which seems to apply to today’s situation in the USA–indeed, in the world.

Max Jones, a young man who had run away from home to escape an abusive stepfather, is aboard a lost starship. Because of an unusual talent for mathematics and a photographic memory of books of astrogation tables, and because of the death of the ship’s captain and 2 other astrogators, he is the only person with the knowledge and ability to take the starship back home and save all the passengers. He is being asked to take over the position of Captain of the starship. He initially declines, saying he could perform the astrogation but that the First Officer should hold the Captain’s position.

Mr. Samuels said quietly, “I don’t agree with the

Chief Engineer about the unimportance of legal aspects;

most of these laws have wise reasons behind

them. But I agree, with what else he says. Mr. Jones, a

ship is not just steel, it is a delicate political entity. Its

laws and customs cannot be disregarded without invit­ing disaster.

It will be far easier to maintain morale

and discipline in this ship with a young captain with

all his officers behind him than it would be to let

passengers and crew suspect that the man who must

make the crucial decisions, those life-and-death mat­ters

involving the handling of the ship, that this all-

powerful man nevertheless can’t be trusted to command

the ship. No, sir, such a situation would frighten

me; that is how mutinies are born.”

I feel much of what Mr. Samuels is pointing out above. A ship is not just steel, and a country is not just land and lakes and rivers. The country is a “delicate political entity” and that delicate balance is now being rent asunder by the pace and direction of the “change” brought about by the Obama administration. Having campaigned as at least a semi-centrist, he’s instead run radically left, and the political balance of the country is unable to handle the strain. The citizens are coming to the conclusion that this “all-powerful man nevertheless can’t be trusted to command the ship.”

Just as in the novel, many of the crew and passengers would rather have the old Captain back, but of course that’s not possible. According to a recent poll, 44% of the people would prefer to have George W. Bush back as president rather than Obama in charge. The greetings of the Camp LeJeune Marines and the West Point Army cadets suggests that a much higher percentage of them would rather GWB was back as CinC.

In the novel, young Max rose to the occasion, as he was basically a decent sort, highly intelligent, and had matured considerably through the trials and tribulations and setbacks of the first three-fourths of the novel. In real life, frighteningly, it appears that Obama, though intelligent, has not matured, and we aren’t at all sure how decent he is. He appears to have learned nothing by the failure of his massive spending so far, as he plans to spend trillions more. I doubt he will veto the current spending bill passed by the Senate, though it increases spending at a rate of 12% over last year, much beyond that needed by inflation, and in a time of massive deficits and great fear in the financial markets. This either indicates an embarrassing economic ignorance, or it brings into question his decency and whether he actually cares for the well being of the country’s citizens.

The citizens are noticing, and the TEA Party movement is a non-violent political mutiny. This is a peaceful mutiny with the welfare of the country at heart, a mutiny that we don’t have to fear as much as we fear the disruption of our laws and customs being undertaken by the Obama administration,.

I note another Heinlein novel, “Starship Trooper,” is in the library at West Point and the Naval Academy. Taken together, both could be exceptionally good texts for a young military officer or a young president, if he would read them and possessed the ability to learn from them.

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