Well there’s something I didn’t know: if President Obama isn’t able to get his Healthcare Bill through Congress through straightforward voting, he can force it through by a device known as Budget Reconciliation. It sounds roughly like what it is: forcing laws to be changed so that the budget figures add up. It was an unintentional consequence of the 1974 Congressional Budget Act.
I’m from the UK, so it may seem a little odd that I’m so concerned about the US Healthcare Bill, the details of which I know very little about and am not very interested in. The reason I’m interested is because it matters to me that the US cares about its own people. I don’t know why it matters to me, but it does. And whatever the arguments on each side of the Bill, that’s what it comes down to. The Bill may be hugely watered down, but at least it is a start, it is symbolic. The New Orleans flood was a clear demonstration that a certain type of Republican in power doesn’t care about the people, at least the poorer ones or the black ones. Rather like some elements of the Tory Party, the ‘nasty party’ as it became known under Margaret Thatcher, in the UK.
Mars has been going backwards ever since late December, which is why the Bill has run into trouble. Mars retrograde is a time to re-group, a time to withdraw from the battle and consider options. Mars is just starting to stand still, ready to move forward again in 2 weeks, so it is a time when options can be clarified, realistic courses of action proposed. This applies across the board, not just to the US Healthcare Bill.
The astrology has been so favourable to the Bill – Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron conjunct the US Moon in Aquarius, Saturn opposite Uranus – that I was surprised that it stalled so badly. It has been now or never astrology. But so favourable is the astrology that it is hard to see how it could ultimately fail.
It will emphasise the extreme polarity in US politics if Obama does force the Bill through, but I think it is his job to do so if necessary. To hell with democracy and public opinion and free speech and rights and all that if it doesn’t result in people treating each other decently. I think I’m in favour of benign dictatorship as against democracy if it means people are treated well. And I’m against free speech in the sense of anyone being able to criticise the government in public to whatever degree they feel like. It puts politicians permanently on the back foot and makes it very hard to govern in a straightforward and truthful manner. It’s become a God-given right for the press to be able to attack the government at every juncture, but I think it’s crazy when you stand back and look at it.
Democracy divides people. As one relatively benign African dictator said a few years ago, when under economic pressure from the Americans to be more ‘democratic’, under a democracy his people would promptly divide along religious and racial lines in a way they weren’t currently divided.
What you need is a governing profession just like any other skilled job, in which people are trained for years, and in which anyone is free to join that profession if they have the aptitude. That is what they seem to have in China, and I kind of agree with it, even though I think they go much too far in silencing dissent. What complicates the issue of dissent is that dissenters often have their heads full of western ideas of democracy as the absolute moral good to which all countries should be aspiring, so their dissent is not just about reform, which is fair enough, it is also about revolution, and that is immensely disruptive to a country, and you have to weigh up the benefits of such a revolution as against the suffering. Look at the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dead in Iraq in the name of creating a democracy.
That said, in the UK we do have our governing profession, it’s called the Civil Service. Ministers come and go with frightening regularity, but the civil servants are in the job for life, and they don’t have to play to the gallery: the Civil Service, unlike politics, isn’t ‘show business for ugly people.’ This contradiction, this classic British bodge, lies behind the 1980s comedy series ‘Yes Minister’, in which you have the newly appointed Minister for Administrative Affairs doing his best to make decisions and create a splash, and you have his Civil Servants doing his best to frustrate him in the light of what they think is best. The Civil Servants always win. Margaret Thatcher, who was better than most at getting her own way, said that Yes Minister should be classed as documentary! Mind you, all along they secretly had a politician feeding the writers real events, which is probably why it rings so true.
Of course, this raises the question of who and what is the real government, where does the real power lie, in your average democracy. It’s an interesting question. In the UK, the Trade Unions had a lot of the power until Margaret Thatcher came along. The City of London has always had a lot of power, and this has only increased in recent decades. Then there’s the press, and of course there are the Americans. Governing politicians find themselves in a very circumscribed situation in real terms, while talking in public as if they hold all the cards. And a lot of their ‘decisions’ are the almost inevitable outcome of processes that have been going on for years, way back in previous governments.