It’s been a big week for small places making news.
NASA sent the New Horizon’s space craft into Pluto’s orbit and it took photos with more detail than we’ve ever seen before. Pluto is officially round. Thank you NASA, thank you scientists, thank you space race. We got him!!
I know very little about space. I know there are worm holes, I know we have planets surrounding us, I know that stars are other people’s suns. But any more in depth analysis than that and I start to get claustrophobic. It’s a slippery slope to “when is the ever-expanding nothingness going to crush me to death?” and I don’t always have time for that. To be fair, this inexplicable and unnecessary open space anxiety is not limited to just the universe. I also feel this way about farmland and the bottom of the ocean, but those have the added bonuses of inevitable zombie invasions and shark attacks.
But all these photos of Pluto have really brought things into perspective for me, and not just because the planet is in high-def. We have our own Pluto here on Earth (ignoring the fact that Pluto is our own Pluto). And that Earth-Pluto is actually Greece.
Think about it. They have both made major headlines this week. They were both once very, very important; the land of Sparta, a planet in the only solar system that has Jesus. They have both had recent falls from grace; crushing debt, a vicious break-up with Earth. And now we are finally seeing them crystal clearly. And we are being judgey.
We broke up with Pluto, didn’t we? Too far, we said. Too small, we said. Too annoying in public. Alright that one is just something I’ve said about an ex-boyfriend, but it could be applicable if Pluto happens to have a sickening need for attention and a disregard for normal social cues. Which I bet he does.
And what are we saying about Greece? Lazy. Mismanaged. Greedy.
Sure, Greece made some bad choices. But haven’t we all granted a year and a half of paid leave to employees with no foreseeable way of meeting those financial demands? Come on, don’t pretend you haven’t done it. If you have a kid, you’re basically granting 18 years of paid leave and your undivided servitude. Unless you believe in child labor – in which case, congratulations – you are true capitalist.
I’m just as good at economics as I am at understanding the universe. I know you’re impressed.
But in actuality, Greece is a victim of similar faulty banking deals and corporate greed that we were in 2008 when Lehman Brothers took a nose dive into our wallets. In fact, they are victims of that exact situation, because our shitty-bank-inspired-recession did not only affect the United States. They had a weak economy for years, even before entering the euro, but things did not get any easier after the collapse of our economy. Greece, despite what major media outlets will tell you, is not a safe haven of lazy employees and perpetual vacationers. They definitely pay bills with money that does not exist, but they aren’t lazy. They got themselves into a mess, for sure, but it seems like they are being held to a standard that is next to impossible to meet. Bankers, governments, and lenders are meeting to discuss plans for the country, without regard for the people’s needs.
While it seems an original bail-out or two were necessary and helpful on many levels, they were bailed out to pay debts, not to rebuild. It all feels a little home-loans in America circa 2007 to me. Create more debt to pay old debts and then you’re screwed when you can’t repay the other debt. And then we take your home. To quote Yanis Varoufakis, we can consider the bail-out an “extend-and-pretend loan.”
Two weeks ago, the Greek people voted against paying back their debt. On Wednesday, the government decided for more bail-out money, effectively going against the people’s wishes. Neither option is ideal. Keep in mind, the people suffering the most are the people, not the banks, not the lenders. The people of Greece. Unemployment is higher than America’s Great Depression levels, the elderly can’t afford their medication, banks have been frozen and no one can access their money. But there are people profiting from this situation, as there always are.
Should they pay back the money loaned to them? Well… that’s the entire debate. Most people in the U.S. would probably say yes. After all, we are “debt = guilt” nation. Call it a by-product of our Puritan roots. Debt is shameful and ever-increasing. But if you’re like me, you know that if given the opportunity to vote against paying back your debt (ahem, Sallie Mae) you would DEFINITELY choose to not pay it. Not because I didn’t know I would owe money for a school I decided to attend that I couldn’t afford, but because I’m placed in a position where banks and the government are making money off of me while I struggle to pay my bills working two jobs. A loan is great until a bank screws you over and makes money off of you. A loan is great until they start making rules that weren’t a part of the original deal. A loan is great until you realize you can’t buy your groceries because your entire paycheck goes to bills. A loan is great until they come after the bank accounts of your relatives if you die in a freak skiing accident. That last one might not really apply to Greece, but student loan lenders coming after relatives when the borrower dies is so dramatic that I wanted to keep it in for effect.
Pluto isn’t indebted to other countries because of mismanaged funds, but they sure are floating, purposeless in the vast void of space, similarly to Greece as their economy stalls amid discussions.
Pluto’s totally making a comeback and I have full faith that Greece will do the same. After all, we sent a space craft to Pluto years after deciding Pluto was narcissistic and a liar (talking about an ex-boyfriend again), so we can definitely send ourselves on a plane to Greece. We’ll also take high-def photos and send them back home for analysis. We can help the economy and eat all the baklava that is humanly possible to ingest.
To Pluto and Greece, I see you. Welcome back to the spotlight.