Monday, June 26, 2017

The Desire to Be: the Astrology of Today’s Healthcare debate






“An organism desires to be, to endure, to be more than it is. It hungers to unfold itself, to propagate itself, to enlarge itself…This is a hunger for life. And this hunger is life.”
  
-- Andreas Weber, The Biology of Wonder


“Medicaid isn’t about politics; it’s about lives.”

 

The latest CBO numbers are out: the GOP Senate healthcare bill—titled the “Better Care Reconciliation Act”—will throw 22 million more people off healthcare between now and 2026, bringing the total liability to 49 million (counting the 27 million who were expected to lose access to Obamacare in that same time period). 

Within these numbers are millions of low-income, disabled, special needs and senior Americans who stand to lose their Medicaid coverage. The act envisions cuts to Medicaid funding that many feel are really an attempt to rollback the 52-year program entirely. It’s as though the GOP has strapped a suicide vest on this program, and they’re rushing to detonate before anyone notices what they're doing. 

Despite protests from the medical industry itself, despite all the protests and calls appealing to the GOP’s sense of humanity—even from Trump, who called the plan “mean” but declined to say he’d veto it. The GOP, led by mouthpiece Sen. Mitch McConnell, has its constituencies to serve, and armed with obfuscations and inexplicable rationalizations, it shows no signs of backing down. Even the Koch brothers dislike the current bill, but I’m guessing it’s simply not draconian enough for them.

Running deeper than any of its fiscal rationalizations, the GOP seems to harbor a venomous hatred of Obamacare, as though expanded access to health care for lower-income Americans was an abhorrent idea to them from day one. The abhorrent part of it seems to have been that some of the resources for that expansion had to rely on wealthy pockets, with a small tax on income over a certain level and on investments to help with the subsidies most applicants were able to enjoy. 

Fiscally, a mandate for universal coverage was also necessary: if only sick people were insured, the plans were simply too expensive. And, certain regulations on insurers were necessary to guarantee essential services, and to avoid discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions. It was a bold undertaking that is now enjoying over 50% approval rating—now that the program is on death watch. 



Nothing I’ve heard about the GOP Senate version of healthcare suggests that the GOP is up to the job of creating a better healthcare program, however. IMHO, a big part of the problem is that they are ideologically opposed to doing anything that helps the poor, without serious strings attached. 

In fact, the GOP bill functions as a massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the super-wealthy, in the form of rebates that retroactively roll back the taxes on the wealthy that helped to fund Obamacare. The contrast in the approaches is stark:

“Obamacare raised taxes on high earners and the health care industry, and essentially redistributed that income — in the form of health insurance or insurance subsidies — to many of the groups that have fared poorly over the last few decades.

The draft Senate bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would jettison those taxes while reducing federal funding for the care of low-income Americans. The bill’s largest benefits go to the wealthiest Americans, who have the most comfortable health care arrangements, and its biggest losses fall to poorer Americans who rely on government support. The bill preserves many of the structures of Obamacare, but rejects several of its central goals.”

 I’ve thought long and hard about how this issue can be framed for astrological discussion: it’s not exactly an “event” chart because the GOP plan will impact people’s lives more deeply than any mere “event.” It will have an effect perhaps more akin to climate change, which as we’ve seen, is gradually creeping up on us, threatening to do us existential harm, even as it decimates thousands of other species in the process and wreaks ecological systems-wide destruction. 

Yanking health care from millions of lower-income Americans will threaten lives, and no one in Washington DC is likely to be held accountable for that. We might wonder when American lives became so expendable. 



Which brings us back to that fundamental, brilliantly insightful observation by biologist Andreas Weber that I used to introduce this piece: that 

“An organism desires to be, to endure, to be more than it is. It hungers to unfold itself, to propagate itself, to enlarge itself…This is a hunger for life. And this hunger is life.” [Weber, xi]
This reflection got me to thinking that astrologically, the Sibly Moon represents the collective organism of the American People, with all its hopes and dreams, needs, sensibilities, and yes, its rights. When we resolved in 1776 to break free from the tyranny of Great Britain and “Mad King George III,” We the People became the vibrant BODY of this nation—a living, breathing body that not only carries this nation wherever our leaders take us, but also a body that deserves healthcare as a right, not as a guilty entitlement.

To deny health to a person is to deny life to that person, and the last time I looked at our founding Declaration of Independence, we were still guaranteed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Instead, we’re one of a small handful of nations that doesn’t guarantee universal healthcare coverage, and IMHO, that is starting to sound like a failure to honor our rights as guaranteed. 

So, what would this nation look like if our besieged Sibly Moon were given the priority it deserves? To explore this “what if” puzzle, I cast a chart that places that Moon on the Sibly Ascendant, and the results are very interesting. Doing this highlights dynamics within our national chart that fly under the radar in most analyses, and since we can’t effect positive change in our governments (on all levels) without a collective boost in confidence, perhaps viewing ourselves through a more deserving astrological filter will help. Let’s consider the chart:





Chart #1: US Sibly chart, Tropical Moon-on-Asc, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Moon-Pallas conjoin Asc (Aquarius), trine Mars (Gemini) and semi-sextile Pluto (Capricorn). We’ve all heard the old saw, “it’s a man’s world”—well in this chart, America is challenged to consider the feminine perspective a little more deeply, which would work wonders for health care policies. Women would not so easily stand by and watch a small group of well-to-do GOP Congressmen strip healthcare benefits from the nation’s most vulnerable—and they certainly might preserve Planned Parenthood funding (another item on the chopping block). 



A more feminine perspective might be more inclined to empathize with the People’s needs, in other words, and to be less inclined to monetize people’s lives. Besides attempting to rollback Medicaid coverage in general, the GOP plan would establish lifetime caps to Medicaid spending for each recipient: what does this do except leave the way open for premature, preventable deaths and debilitating amounts of debt left to the families of those who can’t afford insurance coverage?

Hospital systems dislike this bill intensely because they are likely to get stuck administering unpaid care for many who lose their coverage. 

Rational fiscal adjustments would be welcome to Obamacare, for that matter, if they accomplished the goal of improving healthcare access to all, but this is neither rational, nor good for health care access.

In fact, this isn’t simply mean-spirited, it’s cruel and unusual punishment for being an American. Children born on American soil during these times could experience a truly oppressive time growing up if this vicious bill isn’t stopped before it starts. Happily, since every action is preceded by a mental perspective and informed by a set of values, the potential to do that is here, in this chart: on the 2nd house cusp in this chart we find Neptune—a potentially compassionate, yin energy that could make all the difference if used wisely. 

Using this energy wisely has been a constant challenge ever since our Sibly Progressed Sun entered Pisces in 2004, so why should the current healthcare issue be any different?



Asteroid Pallas’s position conjunct the Moon at the Asc is interesting in the chart we’re considering. Even though the Moon’s influence here is yin, Aquarius is considered a yang energy, so this chart still radiates a male-oriented sensibility in some ways. Pallas here actually reinforces that sensibility in some ways, since of all the “goddess” asteroids, she is most naturally attuned to a yang, “warrior” perspective. 

This blend of yang and yin makes her our nation’s inner “Wonder Woman” character, if you will, and this blend fits the challenges we face, fighting for Aquarian values like freedom, equality and justice. Importantly, Pallas’s special gift is wisdom, which in Aquarius translates into what social consciousness scholar Marilyn Ferguson terms “radical common sense:” 

“…common sense deliberately encouraged and applied. Radical common sense reflects the growing realization that individual good sense is not enough—that society itself must make sense or decline.” [Ferguson, 12]
There may just be a twisted irony at work with our national Pallas and her fight for a more “sensible” society, however. All throughout Election 2016, when journalists would poll or question Trump supporters—typically working class white individuals—about their candidate, it was common to hear that they liked Trump because he “says what he means.” Or, that he “knows how to get things done.” Or, that he’s “on our side.”  

In retrospect, it’s clear that the people looking to Trump for leadership were hoping that the government would start making better “sense” in their lives, that the losses they’d experienced in the past decades would be made good, and that their priorities would get the spotlight for a change. So, whether it was Trump’s innate disdain for rules and decorum, his bully-style sense of entitlement and shock-jock mentality, his supporters felt he made radical common sense for them. 

Recall, for our focus on healthcare here, that Trump gained a lot of support during his campaign by contradicting the normal GOP aversion to safety net programs and pledging to maintain Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security unharmed. That pledge also resonated as radical common sense, and Trump gained points with his supporters for running within the GOP, but also against the GOP. How’s that working for everyone now? 



Yod: Sibly Moon-Pallas (focal points) inconjoin Neptune-MC (Virgo-Libra) and Mercury-Part-of-Fortune (Cancer).This configuration speaks to the healthcare reform trap the GOP has itself in: they’re damned if they do pass their cruel bill, and damned if they don’t. Those with a stake in the matter (most Americans) might wish that the GOP would err more on the side of compassion (Neptune), and less on the side of feeding the rich (Mercury also opposes Pluto).  

The American people are faced with another, perhaps even more devastating wave of job-killing automation in the next decades, and between that and the specter of climate change, we could use a little security and a lot less existential stress. 

The other dimension of this yod, of course, is that “We the People” (the Moon) are at the focal point, so we have hard choices to make, as well. As a sign, the Moon and its ruling sign Cancer (Mercury’s placement here) relate to health in many ways: digestion, reproductive organs, fluid regulation and levels, nerve systems (with Mercury and Uranus), and so on. So, given the presence of warrior Pallas as co-focal planet, the message seems to be that we need to fight for a healthcare system that works for everyone, that’s both compassionate and fiscally responsible. 

The involvement of the Libra MC and Cancer Part-of-Fortune here suggests that a balanced, just and fortuitous outcome is possible, but the results must be driven by “people power.”  Uranus (Gemini) disposes our Aquarius Sibly Moon, and it’s worth recalling here that in the radix Sibly chart, Uranus inhabits the 6th house of health, employment and public service (including the military). 



In this adjusted chart, Uranus resides in the 4th house of “the People.” With the ruler of the 1st house (Uranus rules that Aquarius cusp) placed in the 4th, it is clear that our progress as a people and nation depends upon families achieving desirable economic progress (Taurus 4th). As so many know very well, healthcare costs can break a family very quickly. Where’s the healthcare bill that addresses cutting costs for patients?
 
There are no half-measures with something like healthcare—either it works for everyone or it doesn’t. In fact, Obamacare was working for most people, but clearly it left a certain segment of the electorate disgruntled, and this doomed the entire program to a tortured history as everyone’s favorite political football. 

Now the GOP have what they wanted from day one—a chance to replace it—but they just don’t seem to have the intention, or the values required to do the job very well. The people who design functional healthcare systems must care about people’s health as if it was their own, and nothing about this GOP plan reflects that care. If the yod in this chart holds any wisdom, it’s that we simply can’t accept anything less than success in this vital area of healthcare. And we are ultimately in charge!

As many—including investment guru Warren Buffett!—have also pointed out in the past week, healthcare accounts for one-sixth of the economy (an astonishing number), so not only are lives at stake, but the economy itself is at stake. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden calls the GOP bill both “heartless and brainless,” and it’s hard to argue. Who in their right mind would jeopardize so many people’s lives and the economy, to boot, all so they can return tax rebates to their wealthy constituents? 



Someone needs to “follow the money” on this heartless plan—it’s too irrational to not have a hidden agenda. 

So, if it’s up to We the People to stop this train wreck, what are the “radical common sense” measures we can adopt? For starters, a stronger sense of solidarity with our fellow Americans would help. We really are in this together—it’s not just a cliché—the Sibly Moon disposes the Sibly Sun in Cancer, so the health of the nation depends heavily on the health and wellbeing of all of us. Cancer natives (as the U.S. is) are usually deeply concerned caregivers, so the callousness of our current regime is startling, and could even be a sign of governmental decay. 

At minimum, this mean-spiritedness from on-high certainly is a sign that the “social contract” that governs our lives as American citizens is in a state of serious disrepair. One comment we hear repeatedly about the GOP’s effort with healthcare is that it has very little to do with healthcare, being more of a tax bill in the end! Using our fundamental need for a functional, affordable healthcare system as a pretext for passing a tax rebate is pretty shabby at best, and deeply deceptive at worst. Is it any wonder few people trust Washington?

On that point, I would argue that the long transit of Neptune over our Sibly Moon to its current position conjoined our progressed Sibly Sun has been driving this gradual erosion. We simply don’t notice what damage has been done to our basic institutions and trust until something truly critical—like a healthcare bill—runs aground.




Final thoughts

So, we’ve tried to see the healthcare debate through the lens of an empowered Sibly Moon—ready to roar in its position conjunct our inner “Wonder Woman,” Pallas. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel well-treated and respected by our government once in awhile? To feel that our priorities are the government’s priorities, that every individual’s life is highly valued, and that collectively we are invaluable to each other? We pay our taxes, put our lives and our families’ lives at the mercy of our elected representatives—what are we getting in return right now? 

Our representatives claim that they are responding to our needs (as they see them), yet the polls say differently. Are they treating our health and wellbeing as the top priority it deserves to be? Obama tried, and now everything positive he put into motion for us is being unraveled. So, no, they are not. 

On that note, I leave you with a nostalgic look backward: on March 23, 2010, when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—aka “Obamacare”—was signed into law by President Obama, compassionate Neptune was exactly conjunct our Sibly Moon, reflecting that those were kinder, gentler times indeed. The biwheel with the Sibly chart that day painted an astrological picture that reflected the "radical common sense" we've been discussing, as well.  

Saturn conjoined Sibly MC, establishing a new organizational approach to the critical dimension of healthcare in American life; Pluto (Capricorn) opposed Sibly Jupiter-Venus (Cancer), demanding some sacrifices of the wealthy, but also accommodating many business interests at stake in the healthcare field. Jupiter (Pisces) opposed Sibly Neptune and trined Sibly Sun: it was perhaps all a fleeting, but momentarily uplifting American Dream.

Sigh.






Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years.

She is also available to read individual charts—contact her at: robertsonraye@gmail.com.

© Raye Robertson 2017. All rights reserved. 


Monday, June 19, 2017

Nebulous timing, Real tragedy: the USS Fitzgerald





This week we saw stories unfold in the news about the now seriously-damaged warship USS Fitzgerald and its 7 tragic fatalities.

Seven sailors, ages 19-37, perished in a collision with the ACX Crystal, a Japanese-owned, but Filipino-flagged container ship. The 7 sailors were asleep at the time, as most of the crew on board at the time were.

Tragically, their sleeping berth compartments were flooded when the container ship crushed into the lower starboard side of the ship. Others were wounded, including the ship’s captain: reportedly, the crew of the Fitzgerald had to fight hard to keep it from sinking.

There are several mysteries about why this collision happened: both ships are equipped with sophisticated systems that should have prevented such a tragedy. Human error is always a possibility, of course, and the Navy has already launched a full-scale investigation into all of it. Another odd fact that needs explaining is why the container ship took a quick U-turn 25 minutes before the collision.

One particular mystery that caught my astrologer’s eye is the lack of definitive timing for the collision: the official Navy estimate is 2:20 a.m., Wikipedia cites 2:30 a.m., and Japan’s Coast Guard says the timing is closer to 1:30 a.m. Given the reported details, what time makes astrological sense?
Assuming the Navy’s official time and the Japanese Coast Guard time are likely the most credible of the three, I’ve cast two charts for 2:20 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. (Charts 1 and 2, below).

Considering their differences is an interesting experiment in rectifying a chart with uncertain timing. A lot depends upon the chart angles (ASC-DSC, IC-MC) and on house placement, of course, so here’s where the variables begin multiplying.

Astrologers tend to be pretty passionate about their house system choices, and while I’m certain there’s an argument for all of the systems, I’ve always deferred to the Equal houses system. It’s highly regarded among respected mundane astrologers I’ve followed over the years, and the charts I cast with it always seems to comport with the news accounts pretty well, so I figure if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! With that said, let’s begin.


Chart #1. USS Fitzgerald Collision, June 17, 2017, 2:20 a.m. ST, Yokosuka, Japan. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

Event charts usually tell the story that transpired pretty clearly. In a chart like this one, however, where so much of what happened is still in question, we look for both the overt and covert signs of violence and loss of life, focusing particularly on any dynamics that signal intention, errors in information, communication and/or judgment, and so on. Such dynamics will look a bit different depending upon the time frame—our main focus here.

Here, we have three major indicators of violence and potential loss of life:

-          a fiery Grand Trine between Uranus-Eris (12th-Aries)-Saturn Rx (8th-Sagittarius)-No. Node (4th-Leo)
-          an opposition between the Saturn/Pluto (8th, midpoint, 6°33’ Capricorn) and Mars (2nd, Cancer), and
-          a powerful t-square between Sun (Gemini) opposite Saturn Rx, both square to Chiron (Pisces). 

These aspects are all fairly tight, so they are definitive and potent. The unfortunate “illogic” of two ships trying to occupy the same place at the same time is reflected in the dual nature of Gemini and Sagittarius “colliding” in their opposition. The destruction to life and treasure (the sailors and the ship) is portrayed in the 2nd-8th house span of Sun-Saturn (this opposition on its own also takes in Gemini Ceres and Mercury), as well as in the fiery grand trine, tapping into that 8th house.

Chiron’s placement in the t-square highlights the potential wound to both ships’ reputations, a fact reflected in 11th house Pisces (the seas). Here’s where things get mysterious and “interesting,” however: a double quincunx (DQ), with 6th house Jupiter as focal planet. Jupiter quincunxes Pisces Neptune-Moon in the 10th and Taurus Venus in the 12th.

It’s curious that Venus rules this Taurus-rising chart: from the 12th house, this may reflect some covert commercial interests. For certain, there was precious cargo contained in both ships. The Fitzgerald's was sailors sleeping in the lower berthing compartments, not to mention an impressive array of weapons (missiles, etc.) and electronic systems.

Venus was the “morning star” here, probably glowing brightly for the sailors during those clear wee hours of the morning. Hopefully she wasn’t a distraction!

The potentially “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” DQ configuration certainly helps to put Jupiter’s square to 8th house Pluto (Libra-Capricorn) into context: a clash of mammoth powers (two humungous ships) caused by an unclear, possibly reputation-compromising situation. Again, money (Venus) could have been a factor (we don’t know what motivated the container ship’s U-turn maneuver, for instance).
Jupiter’s 5th house placement almost suggests that a “party” atmosphere prevailed on one or both ships, but this conflicts with reports that most of the Fitzgerald's 200 or so crew were sleeping at the time of the accident. Unless the “party” involved the watch crew.

The DQ could also reflect the precarious situation the Fitzgerald faced to keep the ship from sinking; in any case, it will be good to know what conditions helped create this complicated situation.

It’s not really relevant to our focus here, but I’d be interested to know what the cargo ship was transporting: agricultural goods of some kind would fit Ceres-Mercury, but within the larger t-square context, there might also be something more nefarious, like illegal drug crops (opium, marijuana, etc.). Pisces' role could even point to a cargo that is somehow related to the slave trade (Pisces).

If the container ship was trying some kind of evasive maneuvers with its U-turn, the above Piscean possibilities could explain why.  

There’s been no finger-pointing that I’m aware of yet, but the chart suggests a couple basic potentials:

a) that crew members were simply asleep at the helm in one or both of the ships, or again, that

b) there was some type of covert or nefarious intention involved. These possibilities are signaled by the 10th house Pisces Neptune-Moon conjunction, Neptune’s rulership (along with Jupiter) of the Chiron t-square.

With Neptune, of course, there’s always the possibility of intoxication and impaired judgment, as well.


 Neptune-Moon also contributed to the flooding that took 7 sailors’ lives, but this duo had help from the Mars/Asc (midpoint, 14°13’ Gemini), exactly square Neptune. Munkasey characterizes a negative Mars/Asc as “A poorly prepared defense or war making capability; leaders who don’t have the will or energy to mobilize their resources productively.”[1]  

Neptune could well be the debilitating factor at play here. The Navy might want to investigate the morale on board the Fitzgerald.

All of the above certainly reflects the peril the Fitzgerald faced during the wee hours of the 17th, so what difference does it make if the chart is timed for 1:30 a.m., per Japan’s Coast Guard report? I won’t repeat the basic configurations (they all remain the same), but there are some interesting differences in angular and house placements worth considering. Let’s consider the highlights of Chart #2, below.


Chart #2. USS Fitzgerald Collision, June 17, 2017, 1:30 a.m. ST, Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

The Sun-Ceres-Mercury conjunction moves solidly into the 2nd house and still opposes 8th house Saturn Rx, but Pluto has moved into the 9th house, conjunct the Capricorn MC. 
The Saturn/Pluto (midpoint) also falls in the 9th, now opposing 3rd house Mars. Both of these shifts comport with a deadly collision during travel abroad.
The fiery grand trine spans the same houses in both charts, which makes sense: Uranus in the 12th reflects a volatile pre-dawn event, Saturn in the 8th reflects the death toll, and the 4th house Node signifies an “end” to something.

It shouldn’t be lost on us that this Nodal axis conjoins Trump’s Mars (Leo) and the Sibly Moon (Aquarius). Perhaps these placements inspired the recent article in the UK’s Guardian.com, which draws the connection between our losses (So. Node) and Trump’s failure to fill key posts in his government, including the Secretary of the Navy.
Neptune-Moon have moved into the 11th house in this chart, while Chiron remains in the 11th. The flooding, not to mention the possible compromised reputations are still relevant—commanding officers are likely to lose their positions as a result of the accident.  

Jupiter has moved into the 6th, which suits the military and “employment” nature of the event (covering both parties to the collision).
All told, it will require a bit more information to rectify a time choice between these two compelling charts, but with what we already know, we might hazard an educated guess that the 1:30 chart is more accurate overall. Saturn rules the MC in both charts; in the 2:20 a.m. chart, disaster-prone Uranus co-rules this point.



Yet, in the 1:30 chart, the deadly nature of the event is reflected in the Pluto-MC conjunction. This Capricorn conjunction may also reflect the “big picture” underlying this tragedy: commercial interests (the container ship) are literally pitted against the USS Fitzgerald’s geopolitical mission in those waters off Japan. Was the collision really an accident, after all? Too early to judge, but this chart would suggest that perhaps it wasn’t.

Turmoil in that region of the world almost certainly comes down to globalized commerce and protecting that commerce in the end—protecting access to shipping routes, being positioned to respond to conflicting interests, etc. China and Japan have their issues these days, as do many others in that region—Obama was trying to position the U.S. for a bigger role in Asia, but he was more likely to forge agreements than deploy warships.

Which is not to downplay the threat North Korea poses and why the USS Fitzgerald is needed in that region. Now that this ship is disabled for some time to come, we’ll have to see what comes next. This brings me to one final thought, which is a bit of pure speculation about both these charts: is there a possible connection between the hostility of Filipino president Duterte towards the U.S. and the behavior of that Filipino-flag bearing container ship? 

Specifically, does Duterte have any reason to fear or dislike our ship’s presence in those waters off Japan? If reports I’ve seen are accurate, the Philippines has a very “complicated” relationship with the illegal drug trade that could fit the Neptune activity in this chart.

I’ll leave you with a noon chart for his reported birth data: see what you think!


Chart #3: Rodrigo Duterte, March 28, 1945, 12:00 p.m. ST (no time available), Maasin, Philippines. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 


Most importantly, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of our lost sailors. 






Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years.

She is also available to read individual charts—contact her at: robertsonraye@gmail.com.

© Raye Robertson 2017. All rights reserved. 




[1] Michael Munkasey, Midpoints: Unleashing the Power of the Planets, ACS Publications, San Diego, CA, 1991, p. 252.