The ship of the state parable is a often cited metaphor put forth by Plato in book VI of the Republic. It related the governance of a state to the captaining of a ship.
At 488a – 489d, Plato’s Socrates relates the populous, to a bold shipowner who lacks the knowledge to navigate the seas on his own. The bickering sailors hired to operate the ship seem closely related to the modern political class. They spend their days constantly seeking the approval of the shipowner in hopes of being made captain. These sailors, however, lack the knowledge necessary to successfully navigate the ship, and seemingly dismiss the navigator as a useless stargazer. Even thou, the navigator posses the skills necessary to successfully direct the ship.
The ship of the state parable is relevant today because the US is a representative republic. Similar to the captain on the ship, we elect representatives to guide or government along. While the main portion of the population is busy producing, those who are elected to represent us are tasked with ensuring the country remains on a successful course.