Meanwhile, Pluto (destruction) is still almost exactly opposed to the US Venus (values). The country as a collective intelligence is confronting some very ugly truths about its use of resources.
What has seemed normal for decades is now looking perverse.
From the cosmic perspective, this is a healthy thing. It’s as natural as feeling nauseous after eating something toxic. Pluto governs vomiting and other functions too unsavory to delineate in polite company.
We may find it humiliating to admit that what we have ingested has made us sick; but this planet’s job is to get the poisons out, and that’s what it is doing. America has made itself bilious with what it has consumed.
And Saturn is on the Sun in the chart of California.
“There’s not a minute of the day when I don’t think about [the impact of budget cuts on the poor],” said Arnold S., California’s governor. Tan and tailored, he looked good saying it. He was appearing outside the Capitol promoting a $56,000 electric Hummer. Some might have questioned his choice of contexts for making his declaration of empathy for the little people.
He never was a very good actor.
How fitting it is that California, with its grotesqueries and marvels, elected this larger-than-life character as governor. And how appropriate that California is epitomizing the country’s outsized economic problems. Schwarzenegger is presiding over a financial meltdown of Armageddon-like proportions. Dispensing valiant bromides in his accented English, he is now playing the real-world role for which his Terminator movies seem to have prepared him. He is the do-or-die tough guy in a landscape of wreckage.
His karma has put him in charge of the golden state’s dilapidated dreams.
The state has a 24+-billion-dollar shortfall. Its Republican legislators have made a deal amongst themselves to not raise a single tax to rectify the situation. Given that these lawmakers are state residents like the rest of us, you’d think that the decimation of public services that their stand makes necessary would cause them to think twice about it. But then you realize that they don’t really live in the same state.
Their children do not number among the million whose health care will be taken away. Their teenagers won’t be affected by the sudden absence of grants for low-income college students. The UC system, once the jewel in the crown of American public education, will now have its public funding cut down to the bone; cost-wise it might as well be private now. But I imagine the political class will continue to send their kids’ tuition payments to wherever they would have sent them before. Secure in their jobs so long as they stick to their lobbyists’ demands, they doubtless feel themselves to be personally immune to these changes.
Not so their constituents. Ordinary citizens will feel the brutal cuts. And the non-wealthy GOP faithful who voted for these guys will feel the devastation every bit as much as those who didn’t.
There are lots of Republican voters in California. A few miles from the coastal urban centers live plenty of red-blooded, tax-hatin’, working-class citizens. Another thing the threadbare budget will eliminate is rehab for prisoners; but I’m guessing a lot of inland folks have no problem with that. Not just because their party seems to favor the lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key approach to crime; but because there are a lot of prison boom towns in the state.
Actually, mostly what we have is would-be boom towns. And we have even more former boom towns, thrown up overnight and abandoned almost as fast. Such as the housing developments — complete with school, church and grocery store — erected by the feds in the 1950s to house workers for the aerospace industry (see Joan Didion’s Where I Was From).
Forty years later, small-town Californians were persuaded that a shiny new prison would provide their dusty burgs with jobs for all. Thinking with one’s wallet instead of with one’s brain is popular in tough times. I can understand how the humongous American prison population might feel less like a curse than a blessing to unemployed folks in the Central Valley. If you were lucky, maybe the developers and their lawmaker friends would pick your neighborhood as the site for a gargantuan correctional facility (now there’s a phrase that deserves the Double-Whammy Euphemism prize).
Still, despite their shared abhorrence for taxes, between these voters and the legislators who represent them one cannot help but notice a rather large demographic difference. Although the gentlemen being chauffeured to their offices in Sacramento probably won’t notice the closings of homeless clinics, their constituents will. Those without a roof over their heads will notice, of course, and so will those who use the streets and subways where the homeless will now sleep.
Eighty per cent of California’s parks are to be closed (the sum of money to be thereby saved is estimated to be less than what was spent on the Governor’s special election last month). But I’m guessing that a lot of these public servants, with their six-figure salaries, probably have houses with trees around them; and will not be overly traumatized by the park closures.
California is the über-American state. Its booms have been spectacular, and spectacularly undemocratic. Palm trees, mansions and oligarchs grow bigger here. From its railroad barons and dot-com baby billionaries to its lenders who divvied out mortgages like potato chips, California’s booms are crazy-bigger; and its dreams die harder.
With the planet of adulthood daring California to grow up, the state’s agonies are poignantly instructive right now. Once again it is holding up a mirror for the nation to face itself. And we are realizing our values have been all upside down.