The beautiful images of Pluto sent by the space probe New Horizon demonstrates not only the beauty the space exploration program can provide but also the necessity of continuing the program. With all the never ending craziness from the world’s political, economical, and social spectrum, the image of Pluto provides a momentary peace among many as future generations of scientists can look towards the stars to dream big.
While the images and data sent by the New Horizon are stunningly beautiful, it is more stunning to know that the program almost did not made it to fruition. The combination of NASA internal skepticism, Congressional funding problems, and a potential lack of fuel almost derailed the project (The New York Times 7/19/2015).
NASA’s initial skepticism and the lack of fuel problem are part of the possible problems that can arise from a project of this type. However, the Congressional funding problem shouldn’t have become a serious factor in derailing the program.
The cost of the New Horizon project exceeds $700 million, and there ought to be scrutiny in the decision making process of whether such projects should get funded. However, the decision making process ought to be made in the realm of whether such project would be successful and whether the project services the greater good for mankind.
It is interesting to observe that no one is commenting on the clear picture of Pluto from a political, budgetary point of view. We are all instead in awe of witnessing the beauty of mankind’s continuous endeavor of pushing the limits of scientific progress. This type of scientific progress inspires younger generations to dream big about a world focused on scientific discoveries and not on petty politics.
To keep the dream alive, Congress should not play around with the budgets of scientific studies as part of a politics of chess. Instead, a steady commitment on scientific projects would keep the dreams alive for many generations to come.
Greece and the rest of Europe were cutting it close when all parties finally agreed on a preliminary deal that would allow further bailout talks. While the deal forces Greece to extreme austerity measures, Europe has avoided a possibility of one of its members from being forced out of the union (Reuters 7/13/2015). As the European Commissioner President Jean-Claude Juncker mentioned, the deal is not total defeat against the Greeks per se but a fair political compromise, if and only if, the Greece Prime Minister Alexi Tsipras is able to hold the current compromise to a successful vote in his parliament and win smart concessions from the EU in future negotiations.
There is a great theoretical argument that austerity under conditions similar to Greece would backfire and hamper economic recovery (The Guardian 4/29/2015). While economically conservative Germany wants Greece to quickly cut spending and focus on balancing the budget, austerity will dash Greece from any significant economic recovery in the near term. Some type of stimulus is favorable in order to jump start the Greece economy, which in turn would increase government revenue to pay down the national debt.
In the current political development, there is no possibility of a government stimulus from the Greek government due to the recent austerity agreement. Furthermore, stimulus investments by private actors, including foreign direct investments, seem unlikely given the chaotic political and economic conditions in Greece. Greece needs an economic stimulus, so how would the government of Greece get it?
The answer is the European Union.
Prime Minister Tsipras should compromise with German chancellor Angela Merkel and promise heavy Greek austerity measures for years to come. Such austerity policies will hurt many Greeks, given that cuts in pensions and other government services would likely reduce the fixed income for many dependents of the government. In exchange for austerity measures, Prime Minister Tsipras ought to negotiate hard on stimulus programs from the European Union itself. The European Union can use its member funds to invest in infrastructure projects and setup other EU-run projects in Greece. Such stimulus spending would, theoretically, create additional jobs, however temporary, to the people in Greece as long as the people of Greece are allowed to work in these various stimulus projects.
The EU being involved in transnational investment is not new. There already has been an investment project on improving the transportation infrastructure (The European Commission 1/29/2015), and thus Prime Minister Tsipras needs to focus on securing many EU projects to Greece in order to generate a potential economic stimulus for his country that is funded by the European citizens.
Even Germany knows that austerity alone would hamper Greece’s economic development. A lean Greek government with a temporary economic stimulus in Greece by EU projects might be an attractive option for everyone in Europe.
It is quite sad to see the Prime Minister of Greece to celebrate the outcome of a referendum that sent a resounding “No” to the EU proposal for austerity on one day while proposing and passing a budget that fits the essence of austerity on another day (The New York Times 7/10/2015).
There is really no political choice for Prime Minister Tsipras to go against the austerity measure unless he wants to push Greece out of the Euro zone, and the EU member states as well as the international creditors hold the exclusive financial lifeline for the country of almost 11 million people (CIA 7/10/2015). It is on EU’s exclusive terms on whether Greece can stay in the EU.
Being part of the EU is not merely a financial benefit but also a privilege of identity. Joining one of the largest economic and cultural bloc of the world entails the association of a political experiment that goes beyond the Westphalian national sovereignty into a transnational association of states that attempt to strive for the common good. In this day in age, being “European” does not merely mean being on the continent of Europe but also being part of the EU.
Granted, the current situation with Greece is unprecedented, and there seems to be wide consensus that the possibility of forcing Greece out of the EU would set a chain of financial and societal instability in Europe. For now, Europe needs to trust Greece and be a partner, not an antagonizer, to help the endangered EU member out of this agonizing fiscal crisis.
Again, a few hundred billions of Euros might not sound big if it is the cost to stabilize Europe for many generations to come. Europe needs to see the larger picture.
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