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.


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:

© Raye Robertson 2017. All rights reserved. 

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