The Moon in Capricorn and Chrysler

Just as the Moon moved into Capricorn at 3:59 p.m. Eastern time today, where it’s close to a conjunction with Pluto and a trine with Venus and Mars in Taurus, investors got a bouquet from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

What’s interesting is that Justice Ginsburg only had until 4 p.m. to make her ruling.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but I’m not surprised that Ginsburg ruled to delay the sale of Chrysler to Fiat, a deal that put unsecred creditors ahead of secured creditors.

Justice Ginsburg obviously doesn’t take the sanctity of contracts lightly. Her ruling came in response to an appeal by Indiana teachers, police officers, and other civil servants. Let’s hear it for the Hoosiers!

This is not a final ruling, however. The ultimate decision on the deal can be made either by Ginsburg alone or the full court.

Down and Out in Muncie

You know things are bad when you drive into a small Indiana town and the first thing you see is a billboard that says, “Make $240 a month selling plasma.” Whoa! I should have hit the brakes and taken a picture that I could post, but I had two kids in the car and we were on our way to a swimming pool on a hot summer day.

Many people who watch Late Night With David Letterman are familiar with Muncie because it is the home of Ball State, and Letterman often mentions his alma mater on the show. Letterman always gets a laugh by mentioning Ball State, probably because some folks in the audience are old enough to remember when “ball” was the slang du jour for sex.

I have friends who live in Muncie and work for the college. If you stay in the vicinity of the campus, you might imagine that everything is O.K., though there are quite a few homes for sale.

But drive to the country club, where there’s no one in the pool or on the golf course because few people can afford the modest fees to join the club, and you start to get the picture. Go to the mall and see the empty storefronts.

Or pick up a paper and read the panic-infused stories about the closing of a Borg-Warner plant that makes transfer cases for the Ford F-150 truck and Explorer sport-utility vehicle. The 500 or so jobs at the plant are being transferred to Mexico, which offers lower wages and has special trade privileges under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

I Googled Borg-Warner and learned that the company’s roots in Muncie date back to 1901, when its predecessor, the Warner Gear Co., was founded. This is not just a random factory closing; this shutdown strikes at the heart of Muncie’s industrial bedrock.

Where is Ross Perot when you need him? That “sucking sound” of jobs moving to Mexico that he talked about is louder than ever. As Bruce Springsteen wrote, “Those jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back, to your hometown.”

Even before the subprime mortgage disaster, Indiana had one of the highest home foreclosure rates. The homes being lost are owned primarily by workers in the auto parts industry, one of Indiana’s leading employers. A lot of auto parts production has moved to China and Mexico because of lower wages.

I wonder when this country is going to figure out that there’s no such thing as “free trade.” I’m not a protectionist by any stretch of the imagination, but I think we need to move to a system of managed trade where the losers are compensated. We can’t afford to write off whole towns like Muncie. Meanwhile, farmers in Mexico are starving because NAFTA has brought them into direct competition with U.S. agribusiness, which enjoys big government subsidies.

For those free marketeers who believe Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” will take care of everything (not that any of them are reading an astrology blog), let’s recall that government helped prime the pump for those Ford Explorers whose parts were made in Muncie.

How? By giving tax breaks to small-business owners who bought SUVs and used them “exclusively” for business. I’d heard about the SUV tax breaks, but never believed it until I saw them with my own eyes when I started doing my taxes with TurboTax three years ago. (My husband’s Jeep Wrangler didn’t qualify for the deduction because it wasn’t heavy enough, by the way.)

Government has the power to influence consumer and corporate decision-making by offering incentives. Let’s say the local or state government in Gloucester, Mass., where there has been a surge in teen pregnancies, set up full college scholarships for high school girls who don’t have babies. This probably would be hard for government to do under laws that prohibit discrimination based on gender, but a private group might pull it off. Four years from now, the pregnancy rate will have fallen, I guarantee you.

Of course, students who have children shouldn’t be denied scholarships. I know that. But I’m trying to make a point here about the power of financial incentives to change lives. All the evidence shows that the more education a mother receives, the better the life of her child will be. Of course, if a woman spends the majority of her child-bearing years earning postgraduate degrees and working, she may run into fertility problems when she finally does decide to have kids, but that’s another post.

Human beings respond to economic rewards, whether it’s deductions for small-business SUVs, scholarships for at-risk students, or the tax breaks that California has enacted for zero emission vehicles (See “Tesla Motors: California’s Gain is New Mexico’s Loss”. It’s a fact.

Along those lines, how about setting up economic redevelopment zones in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan? Would conservatives who happily spend $12 billion a month or more on the war in Iraq brand efforts to bring new jobs to the industrial Midwest as “socialism”?

I was talking to a friend whose husband is involved in the Beltway media business. She was telling me that in the early Eighties, when we were both in journalism school, she didn’t have a lot of sympathy for workers who were losing steel industry jobs. “I thought they should just move to another town, retrain, and get new jobs,” she admitted.

Now, as she’s watching neighbors and friends get laid off at the Washington Post (see “Wassup with the Washington Post?” ), she says she finally understands the economic pain that job loss inflicts on families. Maybe now that the chattering classes are being affected by downsizings, we’ll be hearing more in the media about the plight of displaced workers.

At the United Astrology Conference in May, astrologers were predicting that this final passage of Pluto through Sagittarius, which ends on Nov. 25, will coincide with the last wave of media cutbacks. And then the ax will fall in banking and financial services as Pluto, which governs restructuring, moves through financially-oriented Capricorn.

Question: How does an out-of-work journo retool? No, this isn’t a joke.

Born on the Fourth of July: The U.S. and its Mother Complex

As we move through this four-day week toward our Independence Day celebration this Friday, July 4, the question on everyone’s mind is: When is Angelina Jolie going to have the twins?

Yep, we’re a nation born under the sign of Cancer, and motherhood is one of our sacred cows. Hence, the American hysteria about abortion, from both the right-to-lifers and those who support a woman’s right to choose, and the recent brouhaha about the pregnancies at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts.

Tainted food is another hot-button issue for this crustacean country. Earlier this week, tomatoes were suspected of infecting at least 900 people with salmonella and instantly disappeared from restaurant salads across the country. Now, the government is examining other possible causes for the salmonella outbreak, namely things “often served with tomatoes.” Gosh, it seems like the alar apple scare happened just yesterday. (It was in 1989, for the record.)

When I was growing up in the 1960s, it was said that the U.S. psyche could be boiled down to three things: “Mom, apple pie, and Chevrolet.” This was around the time that we were making the big push to reach the Moon, the orb that astrologers consider to be the ruler of Cancer.

When I first started learning about astrology, I could see how Mom and apple pie were great loves of this Cancer nation, but I never understood how Chevrolet fit into the “I Want My Mommy” dynamic.

And then last night, as I was mentally adding up how much I had spent on gas driving from Albuquerque, N.M., to Clarendon, Tex. (a hamlet outside Amarillo), it hit me: When you’re snug in your car, you’re encased in a safe place. Sound familiar? I’m sure I’m not the first one to make this connection, but being in a car is like being back in the womb.

So it’s really “Mom, apple pie, and back to the womb.” And unless you have a twin, you didn’t have to share your first “car” with anyone else, certainly not a train full of strangers. Maybe that accounts for the American distaste for public transportation.

The Freakonomics dudes over at The New York Times are surveying readers in an effort to determine why Americans are so rattled about having to pay more for gasoline after having enjoyed some of the lowest gas prices in the world for years. Here’s the link.

Well, if driving in a car is returning to the womb, than gasoline must be mother’s milk. Of course, Mom doesn’t charge anything for the sustenance she provides, but that’s the point: We consider gasoline to be our birthright! Hence, all the whining we’re hearing about higher gas prices.

So the next time you hear some pundit talking about America’s entitlement issues (Remember the proverbial welfare mom who drove a Cadillac?), remember that we’re a Cancer country. That’s why the jingle went: “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid.”

We don’t want a Mommy who tells us “No.” That’s why women bosses and politicians encounter so much resistance in this Cancer-ruled country, picking up nicknames like “control freak,” “stern schoolmarm,” or worse.

The Brits didn’t mind “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher telling them what to do, and the Germans seem content with Angela Merkel as Chancellor. It’s in America that we heard a voter allegedly asking GOP candidate John McCain, “How are you going to stop the bitch?” before Hillary Clinton conceded the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama.

Am I giving Americans a pass on infantile and sometimes downright crude behavior because our country was born under the sign of Cancer? Not at all. But we’ve got to give this big, fat baby who’s about to turn 232 some love at the same time we gently say: “It’s time to grow up.” I mean, way past time.

If the U.S. doesn’t stop sucking (there’s a Cancer word for you) the planet dry… (You fill in the blanks.)

Happy Birthday, Tesla Motors!

Here’s more evidence for the theory that people and places are in the news around the time of their birthday. After writing my post below on New Mexico losing the Tesla Motors sedan factory to California, I decided to run a natal chart for the pioneering electric car company.

Guess what? Tesla was born July 1, 2003 in San Carlos, Calif. (There are actually two towns named San Carlos in California. One is near San Diego and the other is outside of San Francisco. Tesla is based in the latter.)

Today is Tesla Motors’ fifth birthday. We don’t have a time of birth, so the chart has been set for noon. Here’s the link, courtesy of Astrodienst.

It’s noteworthy that Tesla, which is manufacturing a 100% electric sportscar, has an electrical Uranus/Mars conjunction in Pisces. It will be interesting to see what happens when Jupiter conjuncts the Uranus/Mars in late January, 2010. Maybe that’s when the first Teslas will hit the road.

The Sun in Cancer is conjunct Mercury and Saturn, which suggests this is a serious endeavor that will most likely encounter obstacles along the way. That doesn’t mean the company won’t be a success. Indeed, there has been considerable management turnover since the company was founded, but this isn’t unusual in a startup.

The July 2 New Moon at 11 degrees of Cancer symbolizes a new start for Tesla Motors. Maybe this has something to do with the tax breaks that California instituted last week for zero emission vehicle manufacturers such as Tesla Motors. (See “Tesla: California’s Gain is New Mexico’s Loss.”)

Tesla Motors: California’s Gain is New Mexico’s Loss

As readers of this blog know, I’ve been learning about the work of inventor Nikola Tesla and I’m fascinated by his namesake company, Tesla Motors, a California automaker that is working on a 100% electric roadster for 2009 delivery. (See “The Return of Nikola Tesla”).

I’m here in New Mexico visiting my family and the big news here this morning is Tesla Motors’ decision to cancel a production facility in Albuquerque that would have produced a sedan for the 2010 model year. Score one for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and zero for N.M. Governor Bill Richardson (D).

The reason for the shift to the Golden State? Tax incentives that will give the new startup at least $1 million in state funds to train employees. In addition, under a new program adopted by California last week, zero emission vehicle companies will be exempt from paying sales and use taxes on the purchase of manufacturing equipment.

Isn’t it funny how Republicans end up running California and doling out Democrat-style tax incentives? There must be something in the Golden State’s water that turns everyone into a liberal, not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Jerry Seinfeld would say.

Tesla also attributed the decision to scrap the N.M. plant to the greater efficiencies it can gain by having all its production in one place. Both its battery pack and the Tesla Roadster are currently manufactured in California.

What’s the astrological angle on this? Off the top of my head, I will attribute California’s early embrace of revolutionary technologies to the tight Uranus/Pluto conjunction in pioneering Aries in the statehood chart. You can look at it here, courtesy of Astrodienst.

Interestingly, the press release from Tesla was issued June 30, as Mars in Leo was trining Pluto in Sagittarius, forming a grand trine with the natal California Uranus/Pluto conjunction at 29 degrees of Aries.

I’m hitting the road today so I don’t have time to run a statehood chart for cash-poor New Mexico, but you don’t have to be an astrologer to realize that its government resources are a fraction of California’s. In fact, the Land of Enchantment often loses out to neighbor Arizona in bids to lure jobs to the state.

I spent the winter in California so I guess I’m an honorary Golden State resident, but I was sad to see New Mexico get muscled out yet again in the competition for a high-profile manufacturing facility.

The Return of Nikola Tesla

I had been thinking about inventor Nikola Tesla even before my weekend visit to the Integratron, an electromagnetically charged chamber in the California desert that was built by engineer George Van Tassel based partly on Tesla’s research (“Getting Charged Up at the Integratron,” May 26, 2008).

Tesla has inspired a cult-like devotion among his followers, many of whom believe his electrical inventions were thwarted by financiers such as Bernard Baruch and J.P. Morgan because they challenged the economics of the utility industry. In light of today’s fear that we are nearing “peak oil” and are running out of fuel to power our autos and other machines, Tesla’s claim to have discovered “free energy” is more intriguing than ever.

In 1933, the inventor told the New York American newspaper: “This new power for the driving of the world’s machinery will be derived from the energy which operates the universe, the cosmic energy, whose central source for the earth is the sun and which is everywhere present in unlimited quantities.”

One reason I got interested in Tesla is that the same day I started Astrology Mundo (Mar. 17, 2008), production began in San Marcos, Calif., on a breakthrough electric vehicle called the Tesla Roadster. The 100% electric car gets the equivalent of 135 miles per gallon, according to Tesla Motors. This electrical marvel costs a pretty penny, though. The base price for the 2009 model is $109,000.

Here’s the link to the company’s Web site: http://www.teslamotors.com/

Tesla the man surfaced as a character in Christopher Nolan’s 2006 film about magicians, The Prestige, and was portrayed by rocker David Bowie. Interestingly, 2006 was also declared the Year of Nikola Tesla by UNESCO. I rented The Prestige not long before visiting Niagara Falls for the first time in October, 2007. While I was at the falls, I saw a statue of Tesla on Goat Island. All roads were leading me to Tesla!

With the mysterious Tesla making cameo appearances in modern-day culture, I started looking into his chart. That’s when the confusion started. There are several charts circulating for the eccentric inventor who emigrated to America and registered 700 patents.

Everyone agrees that Tesla was born close to midnight. Legend has it that his midwife said he was born just as a bolt of lightning struck. This has led many astrologers to conclude that his chart must have the electrical planet Uranus rising.

Astrodatabank says Tesla was born at midnight on July 10, 1856, in Smiljan, a town that was in Austria-Hungary at the time of the inventor’s birth. It was later part of Yugoslavia and is now in Croatia. Here’s the chart: http://www.astrodatabank.com/NM/FeedbackPRT.asp?ChartID=46

If you scroll down the comments below Tesla’s AstroDataBank chart, you’ll find one dated May 15, 2001, that says that Tesla’s father was an orthodox priest who “recorded his birth according to the old calendar,” and that his real date of birth is July 22, 1856. The commenter cites a Serbian astrological magazine. Tesla’s parents were both of Serbian origin.

Given the lore about lightning striking as Tesla was born, here’s the chart I like. It shows a birth time of 11:10 p.m. local time on July 21, 1856. Yes, I know this is July 21, not July 22, like the Serbian astro magazine says, but this one works for me.

In many places, Tesla’s birthday is recorded as July 9/10, so it’s conceivable that he could have been born late on the night of July 21 because of the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars. If you want to read about calendars, click here:
http://www.astro.uu.nl/~strous/AA/en/antwoorden/moderne_kalenders.html

The chart I like has a 25 degree Taurus ascendant with Uranus rising, a Sun/Venus conjunction at 29 degrees of Cancer, and a Moon/Neptune conjunction in Pisces, which could reflect the confusion about Tesla’s birthday. Here’s a link to that chart: http://www.astrology21.co.uk/p1tesla.html

I need to do more reading about Tesla, but everything I’ve perused indicates he was an extremely nervous person, so the Uranus rising chart seems plausible.

It’s worth noting that transits from Uranus to a deceased person’s chart often activate interest in that individual. It is for this reason that I think astrologers should watch the date that the first Tesla electric car hits the road and compare the transits of that day to the various natal charts circulating for the inventor.

Based on the speculation about the development of a new energy source that was circulating at the United Astrology Conference in Denver, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of Tesla. If you want to read more about his life, click here for a Web site that accompanied an excellent PBS series: http://www.pbs.org/tesla/ll/index.html

Merc Retrograde: Back to the Future

Mercury doesn’t actually go retrograde until Monday, May 26, but I’m already noticing wire stories on Yahoo! about revivals and re-issues. This should be particularly noticeable over the weekend as Mercury makes a station in preparation for its backward journey.

Mercury retrograde favors everything that has the prefix “re,” so it’s interesting that’s it’s happening on Memorial Day when we REmember the dead. Don’t be surprised if you REcall something you promised to do but didn’t or REdiscover some lost objects.

Here are a couple of revival stories that I’ve seen so far in the past two days: Farberge will make its first jewel-encrusted egg since 1917. Here’s the link to that story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080523/lf_nm_life/faberge_egg_dc

Yesterday, there were stories moving about General Motors’ retro version of the Camaro, which will be part of its 2010 lineup. This piece of news was near and dear to my heart because I once owned a 1977 Camaro. It was the first new car that I ever bought. Prior to that, I owned a 1966 Mustang, which I purchased used.

Here’s a story on the success of retro cars, including Ford’s Mustang, which was revived for the 2005 model year and has been selling well ever since:

 http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/business/s_567928.html?source=rss&feed=4

The rule of thumb in journalism is that you need three things to make a trend. The third revival item I’ve seen is not a product; it’s a decline in driving. The government reports that highway miles driven by Americans fell for the first time in March since 1979. Here’s the story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080523/us_nm/usa_driving_data_dc;_ylt=Alg_.IdY9KtXDZL4Vt_oSUEDW7oF

The last trend has more to do with Saturn in Virgo than with Merc retro, but it’s interesting that we’re hearing about it on the Merc station.  As most readers know, Saturn, the planet of restriction, entered thrifty Virgo last Labor Day. The last time it was there was from 1978-81.

With Mercury retro in Gemini until June 19, it’s a good time to sort through your paperwork and mail things that you’ve been promising to send people. Neptune is also going retrograde this weekend in Aquarius. Once I get back home to Beacon, N.Y., I have to send out a bunch of photos (Neptune rules photography) to a friend’s sister, who is assembling a collage for a 50th birthday party.

I’m also going to my husband’s chiropractor right now to pick up paperwork that must be faxed to the insurance company so we can get reimbursed for out-of-pocket payments that we’ve made. (Neptune also rules medicine.)

Speaking for myself,  this particular retrograde is about mailing and faxing paper, not transmitting information electronically. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put your computerized files in order.

In the words of tech investment banker Frank Quattrone: “Clean up your e-mail!” The feds tried to nail him on obstruction-of-justice charges for that directive, but after an extended legal battle that included a hung jury, he reached a deal that allowed him to remain in the industry and stay out of jail. Quattrone’s a hero of mine because he kept on fighting until he won. Normally, I’m not a champion of alleged white-collar criminals but I was won over by Quattrone’s moxie and persistence.

The News from UAC: Don’t Write Off Detroit Just Yet

General Motors may have lost $3.25 billion in the first quarter, but financial astrologer Ray Merriman thinks GM and other U.S. automakers can get back in the fast lane with hybrids and electric cars.

Merriman told the United Astrology Conference in Denver that he’s optimistic about the prospects for vehicles that use alternative sources of energy such as GM’s concept car, the Volt, a plug-in hybrid. “Detroit is stepping to the forefront. …It’s change or die,” said Merriman in his May 17 presentation on green investing opportunities.

Merriman bases his forecast on his theory that once Uranus moves out of Pisces and into Aries in 2010, new forms of energy will become commercially viable replacements for gasoline. While many in the astrological community have focused on the relationship between the planet Neptune and crude oil, Merriman thinks energy is ruled by Uranus.

It’s interesting that GM’s Volt is currently scheduled to come on the market in 2010, just as the innovative planet of Uranus in moving into the pioneering sign of Aries. So tell those real estate brokers in Grosse Pointe and other upscale Detroit suburbs where hundreds of homes are up for sale that Motown may not become a ghost town after all. The Motor City just has to hang in there for a couple more years, if Merriman’s predictions are right.

It’s worth noting that Merriman could be guilty of looking at Detroit’s future with rose-colored glasses because he lives in the area, but the business press is also anticipating the release of GM’s revolutionary Volt. Here’s an article about GM’s green push that’s on the cover of this week’s BusinessWeek.

Merriman admits that other countries in Europe and Asia are ahead of the U.S. in developing alternative energy systems, but he says, “it seems America is finally catching on.” Once Americans get on board the green bandwagon, the entire mindset of the planet will change and “outstanding investment opportunities” will present themselves, according to Merriman.

The fear of an impending crisis currently gripping the planet is due to a series of oppositions between Saturn and the outer planets that began unfolding in 2001, Merriman says. That’s when Saturn opposed Pluto. Next up was the Saturn/Neptune opposition of 2006-2007. Then it’s on to this year’s Saturn/Uranus opposition, which will continue until 2010.

In previous periods in history when there has been a triple Saturn opposition (1827-34, 1862-75, 1965-72), U.S. and British stocks posted a 46% decline by the end of the period, Merriman said. 

He zeroed in on the so-called Cardinal Climax, a powerful T-square where Pluto in Capricorn is the midpoint of an opposition between Saturn in Libra and Uranus in Aries, which culminates on Aug. 1, 2010. While he didn’t specify exactly what kind of event he is expecting, he said, “We may crack, but we won’t break. The storm can lead to a stronger structure to go forward. …Creation always wins over destruction.”

In the meantime, as I noted in an earlier post, Merriman is expecting crude oil to hit a high of $144 a barrel, give or take $8, possibly in the coming week, as Jupiter in Capricorn sextiles Uranus in Pisces. However, he expects oil to decline by $30 to $40 a barrel by the fall.  “Our addiction to crude oil is killing us, but new energy sources are coming….Innovation is taking us into a brighter future.”

Sounds like there may be a few potholes along the way.

To read more about Merriman’s forecast, click his name on my blogroll.