Admittedly the title of this article is a long one, but at least it’s still shorter than it would have been if I had added the extra phrase, “especially with Saturn squaring the very same Pluto in Capricorn.” The simple fact is that over the past 30 years or so, there has been a steady decrease of the wealth of our middle class. This is an interesting thing to look at because the United States, especially since World War II had brought about a significant increase in the size of that middle class. In fact, many would argue that the primary factor in this phenomenon is the nature of capitalism itself.
It’s not my nature to do what I call – ‘bibleize’. I coined this term to represent the human tendency to turn concepts into dogmas and to then religiously adhere to them in a strict manner. This is then followed by the inevitable defending of these dogmas against ‘attacks’ by so-called heretical forces. Dogmas can become so rigid as to conjure up images of ‘good vs. evil.’ Adherents of the human-created dogma can now accuse those who desire to change anything about the system with which they are identified of either being evil people or at least forces that would destroy all the good in the system they are defending. This occurs even more when the people of a nation are in a state of great fear and uncertainty.
“Bibleizing” can become so unconscious that people can completely forget that the original concepts were created by humans in their honest efforts to makes sense out of the world and to find solutions to human problems. When this state occurs, all discourse is shut down and discussion becomes more and more extreme, driven by passion and fear, instead of by a desire to discover and reveal truth. When two sides of an argument can no longer listen to each other calmly, that nation is in trouble and this is what is emerging now with regard to the word – CAPITALISM. The moment I hear this word used, I find myself automatically cringing because I know that it will often conjure up the most defensive of reactions in people even before anything has been spoken. I imagine fists being raised in anticipation of an attack being leveled against this now ‘sacred’ system. To publicly suggest that we openly examine this system is to open oneself to possible ridicule and even humiliation. This has been obviously operating overtime during the health care debate and this anti-discussion spirit is now being transferred to the banking reform discussion. How can we as a nation respond to the needed reforms with this kind of atmosphere.
I’m bringing all this up because it closely relates to both Pluto’s entrance into Capricorn as well as its square to Saturn, which rules that sign. The events I’ve mentioned can give the reader a wonderful example of how the Plutonian process actually works. Pluto rules the Underworld or the unconscious and when it is doing its work, it will bring the unconscious world of a person or nation to the surface. How does this process work? By making things more extreme. It has the value of forcing things to be seen. Ultimately, what is seen can and will be integrated into the consciousness of the person or nation, but what the nature of the short-term process is often difficult and is just beginning? The way the Plutonian process first appears is by an amplification of what is, of what has been happening that has been ignored, avoided or denied. What has been held back comes out with great force and often what is also attached to this is great fear, especially of the unknown, which obviously by definition, of course, it is. Anything surfacing from the unconscious must, at first be an unknown. This is where there is a difference between a person and a nation. An individual is capable of working on themselves and learning how to handle the appearance of surprising, shocking aspects of their own unconscious. It can be hard, but it is possible. For nations, however, it is another story. The general population of a society is unaware of the kind of process I am labeling a Plutonian one. In fact, my opinion of the decision to downgrade Pluto from being regarded as a planet to a dwarf planet exemplifies a societal rejection of the very process I am writing about in this article. One of the leaders of this movement is Neal deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist who is also, not surprisingly, an avowed atheist, promoting the notion that only the rational mind (the conscious mind) should be taken seriously. This reveals another area I focus a lot on my classes which has to do with the effects of rationalism on such matters as spirituality, soul, psyche and astrology as well. By denying Pluto, it must make the ‘underworld’ known in the only way it can. It is getting our attention by displaying uncontrolled passions, irrational discourse and hysterical reactions to the least thing. We hear a lot more now in the news about the importance of regaining our composure as a nation and the ability to have civil discourse of our national problems. I’m afraid, however, that the coming transits look to me like we are in for far more problems in this area than what we have now. This is for another time so let’s return to the crux of this article.
About our Middle Class
Few would argue that our nation has lost and is still losing its middle class. Where things go wacky is when we try to discover why and what we must do about it. Right now this nation continues its steady amplification of extremism that began about 20 years ago and is leading to even greater anger, fear and irrationalisms of all sorts. I’ve just coined another word – irrationalisms can be defined as “statements made as certainties which are not based on evidence or logic of any kind.” If you are to any degree uncertain of what I mean, just listen to Rush Limbaugh and you can get a glimpse.
I want to ask you to take a brief look at one area of our economy that has been growing powerfully the last 30 years or more. Remember, when you could go to a ‘Mom and Pop’ store in just about every aspect of life. There were neighborhood stores for hardware, medical and hygiene products, clothing, music, electronics, etc. Gradually, some were bought up by local businesses and enlarged. This phenomenon started small but accelerated intensely with the advent of computers. It went to the next level with the Internet. Computer technology has been one of the essential components of the incredible growth of huge international corporations. Without this technology there could not be Home Depot, Office Depot, CVS, Chase Bank, Goldman Sachs, WellPoint and Aetna, and so on. This is also occurring in the professional fields such as the in the legal and medical professions. Law firms have become very large in order to be able to service the equally huge corporations that control our economy as their reach goes into every area of our lives.
Let’s keep it simple here. What must happen to many middle-class jobs when a small company merges or is bought out by a larger one. The answer is that many of these jobs are lost due to the streamlining made possible by the merger. Mid and upper level managers and accountants are let go. They, in turn, will either go to larger firms that specialize in their skill or begin their own companies. But some will not be able to find alternatives that are equivalent to what they were earning before and it is this pattern that we see happening over and over again.
In a capitalistic system all this is good because it makes business more efficient. But what are we doing to take into account how people are affected by this phenomenon in both the short and long term? I’m not suggesting that we end capitalism, by any means. But if George Bush can be a ‘compassionate conservative’ is there any way capitalism can also become compassionate? Perhaps not, if the culture we live in values profit alone.
All of the observations and questions posed in this article are directly related to the transit of Pluto in Capricorn and will become part of the national awareness (with or without real dialogue and discussion) in the coming decade. Hopefully, at some point, it will be taken up in a serious and less politicized manner.
The issues I’m discussing with you here was first encountered when I was taking sociology classes at the University of Texas in the early 70’s. Yes, all of this was on the minds of educators that far back, as the trends that describe how things are now, were easily foreseen even then. Because it was foreseen, naturally attempts to discover ways to deal with it were discussed. How can the middle-class be maintained in the kind of environment being envisioned? And an answer was posed that to me, made sense then and makes sense now even more.
The answer was education. It was believed that what would need to happen is that the general population would have to become more and more educated in order for the economy to constantly CREATE more NEW jobs, requiring more education on one hand, but also generating more income for a business. The solution was thought to be getting a large number of people smarter, so that our economy would be one of innovation on many levels. We look now and we do see that some of this has occurred. Many companies now exist that never could have been imagined then, but it’s not even close to being enough.
When I got my Master’s in Texas, the cost of tuition for out-of-state students was $400 per semester. Sure, there is inflation and tuition at U.T. was less expensive than some universities, but throughout our nation, there has not been the recognition needed to emphasize this importance of this. There may be many other reasons for the undermining of the middle-class, but here is one factor. To me this is clear. At every level, students need help to learn how to learn, to learn to speak and communicate well, and to think.
Look at life during the middle ages when feudalism dominated the order of the society. There was an aristocracy and a priestly class, who were the ones who were able to read, and the rest of the people had little or no rights. They are unimportant and not worth any consideration. We’ve come a very long way since then. But our nation needs to rediscover the importance of this matter, so much so that I believe that improving our education system is a matter of national importance and security. Of course, here we are as a nation in great debt with little money to spend on these ‘luxuries.’ This is what happens when a society ignores a problem for too long. But the need remains and things can get even worse, if we don’t face up to the need of having a great system of education.
A good education is also vital to have a thriving democracy, is it not? By ‘good’ education, I am not referring to what the Texas Board of Education has decided to do with its textbooks. But that’s a subject for another time.
Hope you enjoy this article. As always, I hope you will consider writing a response to this article.