President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the original Social Security Act into law on August 14, 1935, at or around the depths of the Great Depression. The long-range effect of this act narrowed the pre-depression record large discrepancy between rich and poor in the USA that had arisen by 1929 when the stock market panic led into the Great Depression.
I’ve used 12 noon as the time for the signing, shown on the outer wheel of the chart below. Saturn at 8 Pisces formed an opposition to Neptune at 13 Virgo with both square the US Ascendant/Uranus and Descendant, indicating that implementing this new program would be fraught with confusion ( Neptune)and difficulties (Saturn). It had strong opposition from conservatives then, and that opposition would continue for the next 70 years. (Editor's note: Robert Gover uses the Gemini Rising chart of the United States.)
Saturn was also forming a very helpful 120-degree trine to the US conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and Sun in Cancer, indicating that this act would be good for the overall economy. Mars and Jupiter, conjunct in Scorpio, completed a grand trine with Saturn to the US cluster of good-luck planets in the US Second House. Conservatives would have a hard time undoing what they perceived as “a socialist horror.”
Capitalist V. Socialist
My own attitude re: the capitalist v. socialist squabble is that sometimes one works best, sometimes the other, depending on circumstances…and upcoming circumstances can be surmised by a combination of astrology and history. History suggests that unfettered capitalism creates a cornucopia of goods and services, but eventually gets us into a mess that socialistic programs get us out of, paving the way for another cycle of capitalism.
In 1935, Pluto was conjunct the US Mercury in Cancer and thus, also opposite the US Pluto at 27 Capricorn, signifying this smoldering opposition from conservatives (Pluto) and indicating gnarly communications (Mercury) regarding this revolutionary move on the part of the FDR Administration. Other industrialized countries had instituted social services programs decades before, but it was revolutionary for Americans. The Full Moon had occurred at 7:44 am this day from Aquarius to Leo, with the Moon trine and Sun sextile the US Mars. Society Security and other socially beneficial programs enabled Americans to create the wealthiest nation on the planet.
Gigantic Honey Pot
Conservatives had been foiled over the decades whenever they attempted to undo Social Security. The issue had become known as “the third rail of politics.” Touch it and you’re toast. President Bush and his brain trust conjured another way to approach it. Instead of touching that third rail by an overt effort to end Social Security, they’d plant the seed of its long-range disintegration by their proposal to “privatize” the system. This would enable younger workers to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes into private investment funds, giving young workers the illusion of private ownership.
In hard reality, it promises a bonanza for brokerage companies, which would then be handling millions of these new, small investments, generating trillions in fees. And this would be sold to the public as “the only way to save Social Security from imminent crisis.” Given the wily ways some corporate executives and their accountants have devised to steal pension funds, as exemplified by Enron, et al, Social Security money privately invested looms as a gigantic honey pot for a variety of Wall Street insiders.
As I write this, the battle is about to heat up in Congress. So I will use a chart for this time when the privatization proposal was beginning to be debated on TV talk shows, January 17, 2005, which happens to be the birthday of Martin Luther King. Many believe he did more in the second half of the 20 th Century for the overall good of society than any other public figure.
Looking first to the positions of Saturn and Pluto as the Social Security issue returns to public prominence, Saturn is now conjunct the US Mercury and thus opposite the US Pluto, while Chiron is conjunct the US Pluto, adding oomph. This indicates that conservatives have been patient (Saturn) and now feel the time is ripe to make their move. Indicating the difficulty they face is the square to Saturn from Jupiter in Libra and the Moon’s Nodes, creating a grand cross with the US Mercury-Pluto and stationary Saturn at 21 Cancer.
Saturn Where Pluto Was
Pluto is opposite the Moon, forming a T-square with the financially-sensitive US Mars-Neptune square. By itself this indicates trouble in the financial sector of the overall economy. But offsetting this T-square is a grand trine to the US Mars formed by Neptune conjunct the US Moon trine Jupiter, which is also conjunct the US Saturn. At this time, Jan. 15, 2005, the overall economy is improving slowly but threatened by transiting Saturn’s position at 21 Cancer, where Pluto was when Social Security was passed in 1935.
I’ve found that the three most important indicators of economic conditions have been Saturn, Uranus and Pluto, and the two most obvious triggers of events have been Mars and the Moon. So the opposition on Jan. 17, 2005 of the Moon and Pluto, impacting the US Mars-Neptune square, with Mars moving toward an opposition to the US Sun does not bode well for Bush’s privatization plan.
However, Neptune’s conjunction of the US Moon at 18 Aquarius indicates that the public could be hoodwinked into believing Bush and company’s privatization scam. I call it a scam because it’s really a Trojan horse designed to sabotage the system. Setting up this privatized bonanza would cost the Social Security Fund around $2 trillion dollars. Many experts, who find it expedient to ignore the hidden agenda of conservative Republicans, argue that the US Social Security system is the most intelligently designed and durable in the world, so changing it rather than adjusting it is like trying to reinvent the wheel.
Smart investors make fortunes on the downside, so lay in wait for opportunities such as this privatization scheme would present. And, following the record-busting bull market and speculative bubble of the 1990s, history indicates we’re in for a bear market two or three times as long. This won’t resemble the Niagara Falls crash of late 1929 but rather a Snake River whitewater rafting ride down, a secular bear market with periodic up moves.
Besides this scam to enrich Bush’s backers, Murphy’s Law warms that what can go wrong, will go wrong. So the question hanging is, what can go wrong—Bush’s privatization scheme, or a dramatic loss of workers’ money if it passes and becomes an irresistible temptation to financial insiders?
Conservative Republicans, especially those who would most benefit from Social Security privatization, have the corporate-owned media working overtime to manipulate public opinion into believing the system is “in crisis.” Their opponents, citing hard facts and figures, say there is no crisis and no need for a radical overhaul of the system. It has been tweaked over the past 70 years, and these adjustments have worked. The fund is said to be solvent till around 2048. All that is needed, say Bush opponents, is a little tweaking and a lot more honesty from politicians.
Against this argument some Republicans point out that there is, in reality, no Social Security Trust Fund because Congress has used its money for general fund expenses, presenting the fund with IOU’s in the form of government bonds. But that money has been spent, and you can’t spend the same money twice—so says Peter Peterson in his book Running on Empty. Does this mean the government will repay bonds held by people but not those held by the Social Security Trust Fund?
Then there is the argument that the government and/or Federal Reserve can increase the money supply and adjust interest rates to changing circumstances. However, the history of such manipulations does not inspire confidence. Too often fiscal stimulus is applied, getting money into the hands of investors, exacerbating the demand problem.
Given the public relations push now underway, Bush’s success in privatizing part of the Social Security program could succeed, and become his signature accomplishment, helping to erase his increasingly unpopular invasion of Iraq. When it was discovered that the WMDs were not there, Bush focused on bringing what he called “freedom and democracy” to the Saddam-brutalized Iraqi people, despite the growing resistance to American occupying forces and private contractors, funded to rebuild American bombed-out Iraq at US taxpayer expense, a fiscal stimulant. Given the prospects for Iraq becoming another Vietnam-like catastrophe, the Social Security privatizing issue can also become a helpful distraction for the Bush Administration—temporarily.
To surmise how successful Bush might be by the end of his term in 2008, let’s see where the pertinent planets will be at that time.
By October 30, 2008, as Americans are preparing to vote in the next presidential election, Saturn will be conjunct the US Neptune in Virgo with Uranus opposite, creating a T-square with the US Mars, a pattern that has a history of bringing stock market panics. Uranus at 19 Pisces will be applying to a square with Pluto at 29 Sagittarius. The outlook for financial markets as this square tightens is grim, to put it mildly. With both Saturn and Uranus involved, it’s hard to see how the economy can avoid a financial crisis by late 2008 and early 2009.
If the Bushites enact a way to privatize the Social Security system, those who have bought into it are likely to be watching their investments “evaporate,” and/or wind up in the hands of wily insiders who will have anticipated this eventuality, and whose campaign contributions motivated Congress to pass it. It is likely, in effect, to become another wonderful bonanza for Bush’s primary backers and a new catastrophe for many in the working class, as well as a real crisis for the long-range health of the Social Security system.