Citizen of the Galaxy

Aloha – Debbie (or her alter ego) has been ill for some time now so I’m jumping in.  In 6th grade I fell in love with Science Fiction, especially anything written by Robert Heinlein.  Later, he shifted to more mature topics, but his young adult and/or middle school written has stuck with me and inspired me to some extent relative to what I write.

One of my favorite Heinlein novels was “Citizen of the Galaxy”.  I managed to pick up a true first addition of the 1957 novel that I’ve added to my small collection of Heinlein memorabilia.  The protagonist in the novel is a young boy, sold at auction in a far off world.  He is raised by a beggar.  But nothing is as it seems.  Baslim is actually a spy, and after crossing large swaths of the galaxy, it turns out that Thorby is much more than a beggar’s adopted son.  A great tale where the good guys are truly good guys (and girls).  It does a very good job of showing different socio-economic systems and cultures.  But at 13 years old I really didn’t care.  I just wanted a great adventure story.

Comparison of U.S. Government and Demeter Government

Mr Small and Ms Li – First I want to protest this assignment.  I am on holiday and feel it is unreasonable to have to write a paper on comparative government structure.  Nonetheless I will do my best.

The United States government is divided into three branches:  Executive, Legislative and Judicial.  The Executive branch is led by the President of the United States who is elected by the people, sort of.  Actually, only thirty to forty percent of the people vote.  They vote by state and the state sends appointed people to cast their vote for President in something called the Electoral College.  So, the people vote for someone to vote for them.  Whoever the President of the United States is, then appoints whoever he wants to actually run the various departments of the government.  Things like the State Department and Department of Education.  They then execute whatever policies they want.  Recourse against poor policies or execution of policy is through administrative courts where the defendant has to PROVE they are innocent.  Of course they may have to prove they are innocent against policies that are bad in the first place.  The only protection against abusive leaders is that the Senate has to approve the leaders nominated by the President.

The legislative branch is bi-cameral.  I thought perhaps this meant that it was a two humped camel.  But it actually means there are two different branches or chambers of the legislature:  the Senate and the House of Representatives.  The two chambers seem to fight a lot and don’t get much done.  In the United States the people elected to those chambers are usually Republicans or Democrats.  Republicans focus on keeping their jobs and making things miserable for Democrats.  Democrats focus on keeping their jobs and making sure that things are miserable for Republicans.  Neither party seems to do anything for the common good of the thirty to forty percent of the people who voted them into office.

The Judicial branch is headed by the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court has nine judges who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.  Their appointments are for as long as they want.  They can retire or die in office.  They are supposed to be apolitical, but in reality they are closely aligned with the views of the political party the President belonged to.  So for example, if they are liberal (a word that can mean just about anything) they tend to be aligned with the Democratic Party.  If a Republican President is in office when a liberal Supreme Court Justice wants to retire he’s stay in his seat until he dies or a Democratic President is elected so that another liberal justice can be appointed and vice versa.   Officially, their job is to defend the U.S. Constitution.  In reality, their job seems to be to force their views on the citizens who did not elect them.

Overall, the U.S. government system is very confusing.  It is supposed to by, “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  However, it is of special interests, by sycophants, for themselves.  At its best it can be a good system, but at its worst it is terrible.

The government of Demeter is much simpler.  Of course the United States government is responsible for 300 million plus people, while Demeter has at most 100,000 people who are living and visiting the planetoid.  Three groups are represented in Demeter, Terrans (or people from Earth), Cryellians, and Sagittarians.  Each group has a different mission in Demeter.  Generally speaking Sagittarians are not involved in the local government of Demeter.  They have three seats of the twelve on the Directorate and are appointed to that position by the Sagittarian fleet that bases in Demeter.  They were responsible for recovering Demeter from the PerSians.  The other nine seats of the Directorate are all by appointment.  When the Directorate was established by the Sagittarians, the purpose was simply to administer the local political issues that the Sagittarian Navy did not want to be bothered with.  Most members of the Directorate have specific assignments, such as administering the ice fields on top of Demeter or managing the two plants that maintain the ecosystem balance within Demeter.  The Director-General is the formal leader of the Directorate, and is normally of Earth origins.  The equivalent of a Vice President is the Director from Cryella.  Even they have specific roles.  Although the Director-General is the defacto leader of the Directorate, their primary role is the interior of Demeter, while the Director from Cryella is the leader of the surface defenses of the planet and really more of a military leader.

Selection of Directors in present day Demeter is by merit determined by the members of the Directorate.  In reality, Directors are often relatives of other Directors creating a certain sense of nepotism.  Regardless, the system does work efficiency and with very little opposition.  As most positions are tied directly or indirectly to the military and defense of the region, it has a sense of military structure, but a much more laissez faire approach than the much more regimented Sagittarian Navy.

Because of the population and common mission of Demeter the structure is appropriate.  A danger is that the best candidates for leadership may at some point be overlooked in favor of less competent family members.  A certain sense of a nobility class has emerged in Demeter.  Despite this potential problem, a governmental system such as exists in the United States would be disastrous for Demeter.  Elected officials more focused on their own political agenda than on the welfare of the people would create chaos in a crisis where immediate and decisive action often has to be taken.

Likewise the governmental system of Demeter would not work well in the United States.  300 million people are too many to selectively choose leaders from the pool.  Too many excellent choices would be overlooked and the best of the best may not rise to the top.  In addition to the existing cronyism in the U.S. government this would lead to a cross between the despotic, the corrupt, and the incompetent.

Submitted by

William Ryder

A new twist

Hello everyone this is Mr. Small and Miss Lee. We are taking control of the Blog. We figure if our students are going to insist on writing it might as well be pertinent to their studies. Especially considering we have our first two books out, Demeter and Return to Demeter, we thought assigning topics for our students to write about would provide a more interesting and concrete basis for this blog. Our first student will be William Ryder. He will write a short comparison on the United States Government and the Government of Demeter with adding in how combining aspects of the two governments would be beneficial to both. Expect the essay to appear sometime in the next eight hours.

Best Regards,

Mr. Small and Ms. Lee