Friday, September 27, 2013
Those Damned Plutocrats Are Giving Pluto a Bad Name
"An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics." -- Plutarch, AD 1 "Jesse, you asked me if I was in the meth business or the money business. Neither. I'm in the empire business." -- Walter White, Breaking Bad, 2012 Sometimes I get political in my posts. Some readers don't like that and have let me know in no uncertain terms that I should stick to astrology and leave politics out of it. But astrology does not exist in a vacuum, and neither do I. And since Pluto entered Capricorn in 2008 (not coincidentally ushering in our most recent so-called recession from which most of us "little people" aka "takers" have not recovered) and the modern-day Plutocrats have gotten ever more out of control, like a rabid pit bull on a fraying leash, I find myself increasingly preoccupied with how the United States of America is increasingly resembling the ancien régime (you know, the one that ended with the storming of the Guillotine and the rolling of lots of filthy-rich heads, including Marie "Let Them Eat Cake" Antoinette's). The U.S. government may shut down on October 1 due to being held hostage by a minority of Plutopathological public officials in bed with various too-big-to-fail entities. We are truly in trouble if Marie Antoinette's frivolous cluelessness looks almost compassionate compared with the likes of Robert Benmosche, Top Pit Bull at AIG (the ginormous insurance company that played an equally girnormous role in launching a global economic crisis and was given a huge bailout by the federal government). This week, he compared the understandable public uproar over AIG's continued hefty bonuses being paid to its execs to lynchings in the Deep South -- literally, not figuratively -- declaring that the bonus backlash was “just as bad and just as wrong.” This is even more outrageous than his comment made last year from his seaside villa in Croatia about how the European debt crisis combined with increased life expectancy should push up the age of retirement all around the world to eighty. Sounds fair to me, especially since we all know there are so many job opportunities for the laid-off post-fifty crowd and no one's body or mind ever starts to wear out till eighty-five or so. But Mr. Benmosche has some competition for the title of Prickiest Postmodern Plutocrat. Back in 2010, Stephen Schwarzman, Head Cheese of the Blackstone Group (one of the world’s largest private-equity firms), compared proposals to close the carried-interest loophole -- which ensures that the incomes of executives at firms like Blackstone are taxed at a gobsmackingly low 15 percent -- to World War II: “like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” Also in the running is Harry Binswanger, who wrote just last week that the 99% should gift the 1% with obscene tax breaks and engage in some serious ass kissing: "Here’s a modest proposal. Anyone who earns a million dollars or more should be exempt from all income taxes. Yes, it’s too little. And the real issue is not financial, but moral. So to augment the tax exemption, in an annual public ceremony, the year’s top earner should be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor." I'd be tempted to call this satire, but it appeared in Forbes, not the Onion. Paul Krugman, my favorite columnist in the New York Times, describes our current crop of Plutocrats as sociopathic. I agree with him in the sense that sociopaths first and foremost do not feel any compassion or empathy toward others, but I feel he doesn't go nearly far enough. Plutocrats aka the 1% are addicts. Allowing them to control the distribution of wealth is like allowing a junkie to stand guard over a hospital's methadone supply or a warehouse full of confiscated smack. Yet this is exactly what has happened with Pluto in Capricorn. Corporations (not coincidentally ruled by Capricorn) have the same rights as people, though the reverse does not hold true (except, of course, if you're a 1%er), and thanks to the outcome of the United Citizens case of 2010, we can now get the best elected officials that money can buy. To quote Mark Twain, "If voting made any difference, they wouldn't let us do it." Today's Plutocrats, like their counterparts throughout the ages, are the very embodiment of greed run rampant and having to win at all costs -- and they, and I, do mean at all costs. No matter if America's economy, ideals, education, and very infrastructure falls apart -- no matter that there are people going hungry and homeless through no fault of their own. If the Plutocrats' gated communities are no longer safe enough, they can fly in their private plane to one of the many islands they bought for a song. What's the difference between having $900 million or $1 billion? Nothing -- it's not about the money per se, it's about keeping score and always wanting more. Oh, but I'm not being fair to 1%ers like Bill Gates. Look at his Gates Foundation...working to privatize the U.S. public school system. Okay, so as I was saying... The Pluto-in-Capricorn era did not invent Plutocrats, but especially in the midst of the Uranus-Pluto square era, these greedy, sociopathic addicts sure are giving my favorite planet a bad name. Pluto unhinged is indeed greedy, sadistic, power-mad, and must win at all costs, which means it does not fight fair. Of course, all planets have a dark side -- for example, Jupiter unhinged is a gambling addict; Mars unhinged is a bloodthirsty soldier; the dark side of the Moon languishes in self-pity and torpor; Mercury's evil twin lies and kleptos everything. Yet Pluto is so intense on its best of days that its dark side is way darker than any other planet in our solar system. The last Uranus-Pluto square back in the early 1930s gave the United States a Great Depression but also a New Deal; Pluto's placement in Cancer (U.S.'s Sun sign) might have helped America transform in a more positive way concerning wealth distribution and the creation of such safety nets as social security and unemployment insurance. Now with Pluto in Capricorn literally opposing the U.S.'s Sun, these safety nets are in danger of being shredded into handkerchiefs at the same time that 95 percent of the post-recession gains have gone to the 1%, and especially to the .001%. This year's sequester, which was never intended to go through because its terms were so ludicrous and unjust, did not touch the salaries and cushy benefits of our elected officials -- just the well-being of the long-time unemployed and those who were hapless enough to work at jobs that were "furloughed." According to Dr. Lawrence Britt, one of the consistent characteristics of fascism throughout history is the protection of coporate power: "The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite." You might have noticed that thus far, I have refrained from savaging those evil, no-account "Republicons" and massaging those angelic, no-fault Democrats. This is because I am so cynical about politics that although I admit to being relieved that Mutt Rummy did not clinch the U.S. presidency, and although I freely acknowledge that President Obama has had to deal with an unconscionable amount of Far Right obstruction for the past five years, I do not think at this point it's about the conflict between our two major parties; besides, Wall Street loves Obama so much they sold a lot of Girl Scout cookies for his 2008 campaign. What this is about is class war, and to make matters worse, the 99% is not fighting back -- at least, not yet. The widely ridiculed Occupy Wall Street movement two autumns ago was a blip on the radar screen, and in each of the three national elections that have taken place since Pluto entered Capricorn (2008, 2010, 2012), far too many of the have-nots have continued to protect and enable the have-everythings against their own best interests. Sad to say, this is mostly because so many of the "working poor" (a nice euphemism for the Pluto-in-Capricorn era) plan to win the lottery or invent something useful like air, and thus be able to ascend Capricorn Goat Mountain and join the 1%... at which time they will not want to deal with the lazy, inferior, mooching 99%. No wonder I am a self-identified misanthrope. There has been a bit of recent grumbling in the media about the increasingly entitled, insufferable attitude of "kids today"; how the spawn of the Boomers and Gen X are hurtling unchecked through college and Kindergarten, restaurants and other public places, like little dictators who cannot and will not be polite, share, or work for good grades, and how especially the younger ones, the so-called Precious Snowflakes or Homeland Security Generation, cannot be expected to be held accountable for any of their bad behavior lest their feelings be hurt. Instead, they are all awarded participation trophies and told how "special" and "unique" they are -- and more for their parents' benefit than the kids', since losing at anything, no matter how minor, is something to be avoided like the Black Death, and so many parents these days treat their little geniuses as extensions of themselves. True dat, so why can't the media, and the rest of us for that matter, stop worshipping the Precious Snowflake Plutocrats, who make those little brats screaming their heads off at the local multiplex or slugging their mothers in supermarkets for failing to add Frosted ADD Flakes to the shopping cart look like saints, and start holding these 1%ers accountable for their increasingly bad behavior instead of constantly making excuses for them and bailing out their sorry asses? It is no longer enough for the Plutocrats to have everything; they want the rest of us to bow down before them, too (especially the ones born between 1937 and 1957 with Pluto in autocratic Leo). What if the 99% walked away from them, instead? I realize how unrealistic and naive I must sound, for as of 2013, Americans are either too scared of losing their livelihoods or too tired and beaten down to fight. But history has a way of rhyming, if not exactly repeating itself. The American Revolution occurred with Pluto in late Capricorn; Bastille Day, July 14, 1789, occurred with Pluto in Aquarius. We can only go on for so much longer living this gross imbalance of power before something snaps on a collective level. And the longer we wait, the more carnage and devastation there will be on both sides.