Mercury is no longer retrograde, depriving astrophiles of their favorite excuse for things going wrong. On the other hand, Neptune is now in Pisces (see the May Skywatch on MotherSky.com), giving anyone who’s looking for a planet to blame plenty of justification for confusion.
During the month of May of Mars, Mercury and Venus pass through Taurus, the sign of material resources. May begins with the Sun and Moon singing the money song, too: the New Moon of May 2 is in Taurus. Part of this emphasis is seasonal: the second third of Spring is always dominated by the sign of fixed Earth. This is the time of year where we are all meant to get in touch with what we need for physical survival.
But with the Cardinal Cross in the background, our focus on materiality is waxing compulsive, especially for Americans.
Pluto (plutocracy) is in the second house of the US chart, the astrological signature of financial obsession. Pluto always pushes the issues of its resident house to extremes. And right now we have not just natal Pluto but transiting Pluto involved: an inherently extreme condition is being pushed to an even more extreme place. Since 2008 when Pluto in Capricorn (monetary systems) started opposing the US chart’s Venus (finances), the country’s extraordinary relationship to the material plane has become more and more dysfunctional.
In 1980 the richest tenth of American families controlled half of the nation’s income. Right now, the top 1% controls double that amount. And the top 1/10 of the top 1% have made the biggest advances of all. The scenario is so skewed that a new way of speaking about it has had to be deployed, as if to disguise its inherent craziness; e.g. calling executive pay-and-perks packages “compensation” (as opposed to what ordinary folks get: plain old wages). When called upon to justify the policy of rewarding the already-rich with ballooning salaries and bonuses during a global recession, companies these days have been invoking the “talent drain” argument. That is, If we don’t pay our CEOs a king’s ransom, we’ll miss out on hiring the best and the brightest.
Could there be a more stunningly tone-deaf statement for a corporation to come out with, in a period when everybody but the fortunate few is in financial crisis?
Almost as great as the disparity between rich and poor in the USA is the disparity here between the financial facts and the collective self-image. Most Americans equate patriotism with the belief that their country represents the epitome of equality and fairness (Saturn is in Libra in the US chart; see my lecture, The Saturn Return: America’s Growing Pains), and that access to wealth is evenly distributed, despite staggering amounts of evidence to the contrary (1). A fog of incredulity protects the myth that the USA is a classless society; and that the little guy has as good a shot at great wealth as his well-connected brethren.
But the country is growing less naïve by the day. As the Cardinal Cross slams into the US Sun cluster, the country’s Horatio Algier fantasies are being bombarded by a battering ram. The poor and middle class are watching their social services go from paltry to non-existent, at the same time that the very richest among them receive bigger and bigger pieces of the American pie (2). No longer the exclusive province of academics and statisticians, these disparities have moved from being a subtext of the public conversation into being its main text. Even Vanity Fair, hardly a radical rag, has an article on the income gap in its latest issue.
This is causing a wrenching disconnect in the group psyche, as cherished part of the national imagination is being contradicted by evidence that can no longer be denied. When such contradictions (Pluto opposite Sun) occur to individuals, the identity crisis can be devastating. Psychology flags such states as harbingers of mental illness.
In the political arena, financial self-interest has grown fanatical. Last year the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, opened to full throttle the spigot of corporate cash into political campaigns. Since then, the moneyed class has been emboldened to go whole hog. As we would expect from a transit spearheaded by Pluto, subtlety as well as shame has been thrown to the winds.
In late February, with Pluto’s opposition to the US Jupiter within a degree of exactitude and Uranus closing in on the Aries point, Wisconsin’s governor made history. Backed by two of the deepest-pocket players in American politics, the Koch Brothers, Scott Walker did what no politician had done since the union busting of the early 1930s. He introduced a bill stripping state workers of their right to collective bargaining (at this writing, a judge has barred the bill’s implementation).
American unions have been in steep decline for the past several decades (2). But they remain the only significant counterbalance working people have against the forces of plutocracy. The all-out attack upon them marked a surge in the Income Gap wars.
Stationary Pluto Opposite US Jupiter
Pluto stationed retrograde on April 9 and is on its way back towards an exact opposition to the US Jupiter (to peak again this year in July and August; then in October and November).
The USA Jupiter is the repository of our collective ethical values. It symbolizes the nation’s sense of what is right and just. Beginning in earnest around the 2010 summer solstice, Uranus, Pluto and Saturn have been ripping off the veneer that has covered up this part of the national psyche.
What do Americans really believe, underneath what they say they believe? What makes a society ethical? The opportunity exists here for the USA to confront its previously unexamined truisms, to repudiate its morally bereft behaviors, and to move towards a vision of true national integrity.
This might include the idea that a truly civilized society is one in which the most vulnerable segments of the population are cared for, and in which the financially powerful do not exploit the powerless just because they can.
1 Extreme financial inequality is not just unfair; there is also a body of scholarship suggesting that it causes economic depressions. They do so by creating a bias towards asset bubbles and overinvestment while holding down consumption, until the system becomes top-heavy and tips over, as happened in the 1930s. Right now the profit share of corporations is at record highs across the US and Europe.
2 In 1960, one in four American workers was in a union; now it’s one in eight. The primary reasons for the change seem to be the erosion of American manufacturing, largely through outsourcing; as well as the increasingly close ties between big business and the lawmakers on their payroll, who enact labor laws without teeth.