There is currently a rebellion on both sides of the Atlantic against the bonuses paid to executives of failed companies such as AIG and Royal Bank of Scotland, which had to be bailed out by the taxpayers. And it's right there's a rebellion, though it seems to me that both the US and UK governments were caught on the hop by not addressing the issue of bonuses when they did the bail-outs, and were in a position to set conditions. In the case of RBS, Sir Fred Goodwin being signed off by Lord Myners with his £705,000 yearly pension stinks of cosy cronyism. ‘Something queer about the Knight and the Peer’ (quote from me).
Only the other day Lord Myners was saying how much he admired Fred the Shred (as he was known for his cost-cutting measures) for the ‘dexterity’ with which he negotiated his vast pension. That’s like saying you admire Bernard Madoff for running such a big scam for so long.
I think this issue will be come to be seen as a turning point in the transition from Pluto in Sagittarius to Pluto in Capricorn, from an age of economic boom that became bloated and decadent to an age of common sense and prudence. It will prove to be a turning point because ordinary people and politicians are en masse rejecting and condemning the princes of the age we are leaving, the fat-cat financiers. The past is increasingly a place we do not want to return to, rather than a prosperity that we have lost. Values other than material gain are re-entering the arena.
This is perfectly in line with the main outer planet configuration of 2008-10, Saturn opposite Uranus. This particular configuration, probably more than any other, stands for a rebellion against the old way of doing things. And we are certainly encountering a rebellion, one that is clearly not going to go away. And it is peaking as Pluto begins to station, which suggests these events are particularly characteristic of the Capricorn Age we are entering. People are furious that these financiers at the top of the tree are being rewarded for failure, and that it is taxpayers money – there’s the rub – that is being used. What we want, what the collective is now yearning for, is a return to proportion and fairness and just financial rewards. And what the collective wants, it gets.
It will be interesting to see if the US government finds a way of clawing some of the money back off these financiers. In the UK we seem to have failed, and maybe for good reasons, because what is the point of a contract if it can be re-written when it no longer suits?
Having written this piece, news came through of the US House of Representatives vote to levy a 90% tax on bonuses of the employees at many of the companies bailed out by the government. It still has to be agreed by the Senate, who have their own draconian measure, but it's a big step in the right direction. There are questions about the legality of the measure, but I can't see that standing in the way for now, such is the public mood. This may embolden Gordon Brown to take similar measures in the UK. Brown has 12th House Mars in Pisces, and is not known for being bold.
However, I object to the scapegoating of Sir Fred Goodwin. He has had to take his children out of school because the government has made him its target, and the press has been only too willing to join in. The reason the government have targeted Sir Fred is to conceal their own failings in letting the situation happen in the first place. Sir Fred Goodwin is just a greedy banker doing what greedy bankers do. He is a jungle beast acting in character. There always have been and will be plenty of people like him. That is why Russia went the way it did after Communism collapsed – they all came out of the woodwork after a 70 year chill. The job of government is not to eradicate the Sir Freds, for they will always be there, but to control them. Properly controlled, these beasts can generate a certain amount of wealth for the nation, as well as for themselves. I think it’s generally better to let people have their head to some extent rather than sit on them, unpalatable as these types often are.
Sir Fred Goodwin was born on 17 Aug 1958. He has Sun in Leo, trine to Saturn and sextile to Jupiter. So in a way it was always easy for him. He chart oozes talent and leadership, but also hubris. His Mars in Taurus square to Uranus gives him brilliance with money. Venus square Neptune gives the possibility of getting caught up in collective financial delusions, as well as more star quality. His Moon is most likely in Virgo and square to Saturn. So underneath the star quality is a deep sense of lack of self-worth, like however much he achieves he can’t sit back and feel good about himself. In one way he knows how brilliant he is – the Sun – but on a deeper, more emotional level, he doesn’t. And with Moon in the critical sign of Virgo, he gives himself a hard time over any perceived failings: they just go to prove his lack.
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His Sun also has its difficulties: widely conjunct Pluto and opposite Chiron. Leos often have fathers who are absent in some way, so that they have to find their own way, their own connection to life. Stick that opposite the Chiron wound, and it gives the sense that Fred Goodwin found this very difficult to come to terms with. The Sun-Pluto-Chiron combination, and Moon-Saturn (of which I have both: I wasn’t aware of the similarity until just now!), give someone who has a lot of inner work to do, sorting through a sense of pain and inadequacy, but also innate wisdom and compassion that are encountered if you do the inner work. What is noticeable about Sir Fred, not just in his life-story but also in his manner, is how ‘out-there’ he is, just how much he is identified with being the extraverted super-hero. Pluto and Chiron on his Sun give a deep need for regeneration, for dying and being re-born as a more authentic being, but still carrying the unknowable Chironic pain that is always teaching you and deepening you. (Chiron was primarily a teacher.) So it is not surprising that what has happened to him has happened. He is the Chiron scapegoat, the one who all his life was desperate to belong but who has ultimately shown himself to be not ‘one of us’. And it occurred because he ignored the authenticity that Pluto demands, and the inner work that Chiron and Moon-Saturn need. What I find amazing is how long he kept it up.
He is doubtless conscious of his talent. What he is probably not conscious of is the lack of self-love, the inner need. The combination of Sun-hubris and Moon-neediness produced the driving ambition for which is he is well-known, and which almost destroyed the bank he was running.
It’s like a Greek tragedy. In Buddhist cosmology, it is the gods who suffer most when they fall, for they have known nothing other than success and happiness. And what a fall Sir Fred has had, from hero to national scapegoat. He is not showing it, not one inch. He’s not the sort. But what has happened must on an emotional level feel like the confirmation of the bad love for himself that he has always felt.
He was known as Fred the Shred, and this is described by his Moon in Virgo (analytical and efficient) square to Saturn (cold). But Moon in Virgo also, through its analytical ability, gives the capacity to understand one’s emotions. Fred is now unemployable, but well-off. Neptune is currently opposing his Sun, while either Uranus or Pluto is hard-aspecting his Moon. He has no personal water in his chart, so he doesn’t understand emotions easily. But watery Neptune and the transit to his Moon are taking him there, if he is willing. And he needs to think of others: Libra North Node and Neptune dissolving his self-obsessed Leo Sun and the attitude of service his Virgo Moon needs to feel happy. He’s the sort of guy who will always pop up again, so it will be interesting to see if the next few years, with time on his hands, change him.
The fact that he has to take his children out of school is interesting, for it was his own hubristic actions which created the situation. It’s like a clash between his business values and his family values, and these clashes can be creative. And also his own childhood is being activated. His Sun in Leo is in the sign of the child, and the Moon is associated with childhood. Both have outer planet transits, and he is also completing his Chiron Return, and natal Chiron is opposite his Sun. I think the later part of his life could be so much more satisfying for him, albeit far less ‘successful’.