Obama channels Robert A. Heinlein

Christopher Alleva and Michael Geer
The dean of science fiction writers anticipated the arrival of Barack Obama and his cash for clunkers nonsense. As instructional videos teach people how to disable a perfectly fine Volvo to qualify to be scrapped in exchange for cash, here is what Heinlein wrote in his sci-fi novel The Door Into Summer more than half a century ago:

The job I found was crushing new ground limousines so that they could be shipped back to Pittsburgh as scrap. Cadillacs, Chryslers, Eisenhowers, Lincolns - all sort of great big, new powerful turbobuggies without a kilometer on their clocks. Drive'em between the jaws, then crunch! smash! crash! - scrap iron for blast furnaces.

It hurt me at first since I was riding the ways to work and didn't own so much as a Grav-Jumper. I expressed my opinion of it almost lost my job....until the shift boss remembered I was a Sleeper and really didn't understand.

"It's a simple matter of economics, son. These are surplus cars the government has accepted as security against price-support loans. They're two years old now and then can never be sold....so the government junks them and sells them back to the steel industry.

You can't run a blast furnace just on ore; you have to scrap iron as well. You ought to know that even if you are a Sleeper. Matter of fact with high-grade ore so scarce, there's more and more demand for scrap. The steel industry needs these cars."

"But why build them in the first place if they can't be sold? It seems wasteful."

"It just seems wasteful. You want to throw people out of work? You want to run down their standard of living?"

"Well why not ship them abroad? It seems to me they could get more for them on the open market abroad then they are worth as scrap."

"What! and ruin the export market? Besides, if we started dumping cars abroad everybody we'd get everyone sore at us - Japan, France, Germany, Great Asia, everybody. What are you aiming to do? Start a war?"



The dean of science fiction writers anticipated the arrival of Barack Obama and his cash for clunkers nonsense. As instructional videos teach people how to disable a perfectly fine Volvo to qualify to be scrapped in exchange for cash, here is what Heinlein wrote in his sci-fi novel The Door Into Summer more than half a century ago:

The job I found was crushing new ground limousines so that they could be shipped back to Pittsburgh as scrap. Cadillacs, Chryslers, Eisenhowers, Lincolns - all sort of great big, new powerful turbobuggies without a kilometer on their clocks. Drive'em between the jaws, then crunch! smash! crash! - scrap iron for blast furnaces.

It hurt me at first since I was riding the ways to work and didn't own so much as a Grav-Jumper. I expressed my opinion of it almost lost my job....until the shift boss remembered I was a Sleeper and really didn't understand.

"It's a simple matter of economics, son. These are surplus cars the government has accepted as security against price-support loans. They're two years old now and then can never be sold....so the government junks them and sells them back to the steel industry.

You can't run a blast furnace just on ore; you have to scrap iron as well. You ought to know that even if you are a Sleeper. Matter of fact with high-grade ore so scarce, there's more and more demand for scrap. The steel industry needs these cars."

"But why build them in the first place if they can't be sold? It seems wasteful."

"It just seems wasteful. You want to throw people out of work? You want to run down their standard of living?"

"Well why not ship them abroad? It seems to me they could get more for them on the open market abroad then they are worth as scrap."

"What! and ruin the export market? Besides, if we started dumping cars abroad everybody we'd get everyone sore at us - Japan, France, Germany, Great Asia, everybody. What are you aiming to do? Start a war?"