The Virtuous Nation — Part III

usa_ju

Sun-Jupiter-Venus

Venus conjunct Sun

The United States also has Venus conjunct its Sun. This clearly manifests itself in two ways, illustrating two keywords for Venus and the Sun.

Popular

Not only is the United States a popular country, but its products are popular also. This popularity is so strong, as suggested by this natal conjunction, that it will take some special actions to harm this popularity.

In the decades before the Civil War, the United States exported about 80% of the cotton in the world, and tobacco was also a major export from this country. These crops, grown largely by slave labor, were extremely popular around the world, and led to the growth of the American economy. At one time, cotton exporters were in general the second wealthiest people in the world, the wealthiest being the owners in England whose factories made clothing from the Southern cotton.

American movies, television programs, music, and celebrities, are extremely popular around the world. All these things are ruled by Venus. People may know nothing else about America, and in fact they may hate America, as many citizens of Arab countries do now, but they still love American culture. Action movies are especially popular overseas, because no translation is needed for a car chase or a gun fight. This causes a tendency in Hollywood to make movies that will be popular overseas, despite what an American market might want.

During the Cold War, blue jeans were neither manufactured nor imported by the Soviet Union, but nevertheless, or perhaps because of this, they were very popular in the Soviet Union. While some were brought in by diplomats, blue jeans were long considered a valuable commodity that could be traded for much by visitors to the Soviet Union.

America has always been popular to immigrants and attempted immigrants. Currently in the United States there is much debate about immigration, since millions of people from south of the Rio Grande River have come to this country illegally. The country is so attractive to them that they would risk their life to enter. And hundreds die a year attempting to come to this country.

And America has always been attractive to immigrants from foreign lands. It has, after all, been considered the land of opportunity, where the “streets are paved in gold.” As we’ve seen above, there were reasons for this belief. The only native people here were the Indians, and they had merely immigrated a much longer time before the rest of the settlers. And America has always gone through periodic attempts to curb immigration.

Comfort-Loving

Americans also love their comfort. Americans are notorious for their lifestyle, which is more expensive and excessive than what almost everyone else in the world would consider. Americans are famous for their lack of physical exercise, and stories are often told of an American driving a block or less to go to a store. Interestingly enough, when skinny families from other countries move to America, they or their children find themselves adopting this love of comfort and putting on weight. But of course, as other countries get wealthier, they also adopt the American lifestyle which they see as the hallmark of a civilized people. Notice how China, as it gets a bigger middle class, replaces the bicycles on its streets with automobiles, and American automobiles are most popular because they suggest that the owner has “arrived”.

Another way of observing the excessive lifestyle of Americans, or the dream that such a lifestyle has on those Americans – the vast majority – who don’t have lives of such excess, is to note the popularity of the television series “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”. The show is gone, but we still pay extraordinary attention to the lives of celebrities, who almost by definition are wealthier that we are, as picking up an issue of People magazine or a brief scan of the cable news shows at almost any time will reveal. But of course the people that make up these video encounters aren’t the really wealthy: those people, in the top one-half of one percent of the population, prefer not to be well known, and usually live behind gated walls. They are the people whose wealth is really beyond sight, but they still serve as an inspiration to those who aren’t nearly as rich. Thus the American Dream survives [This is discussed in great detail in Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich, Robert Frank, Crown 2007].

Consider the ratio of pay for the CEOs of companies to the pay of the workers of those companies. The figures increases from year to year, but what is most interesting is that this ratio has increased drastically in recent years. A current study shows that executive pay is more than 400 times as high as that of the average worker, nationwide; this ratio was only 42 as recently as 1980. Obviously, excess has gotten more excessive over the last few decades.

But this is not the first time that such excess has been prominent in the United States. In the decade of the Twenties, the rich were famously wealthy. The Twenties were notorious for the great spread between the income of the extremely wealthy – such as Henry Ford, the second richest man at the time – and the average worker. Partly this great imbalance of wealth was due to the monetary policies of Andrew Mellon – the third richest man – who was Secretary of the Treasury between 1921 and 1933, under three presidents [Or as the contemporary joke had it, those three president served under Andrew Mellon]. By present day standards, Henry Ford was earning $345 million a year. These extremities of wealth of the Twenties are often compared to the situation today.

But the Twenties was not the only time in American where the wealthy were so extreme. Another period was the Gilded Age – -whose name betokens tawdry excess – in the last third of the Nineteenth Century.[Jack Beatty, Age of Betrayal: The Triumph of Money in America, 1865-1900, Knopf, 2007. The subtitle says it all.] At one time during this era, the extremely wealthy J.P. Morgan had to loan money to the United States for it to survive during what was called the Panic of 1893. This was the era of the Robber Barons, whose great wealth was legendary.

But excess and love of comfort is not reserved just for those in the upper incomes. The incidence of type 2 diabetes has increased greatly in this country recently, and some are even calling this a diabetes epidemic. Diabetes was previously a disease of middle age, but is now being seen more and more in young people. Diabetes is a disease ruled by Venus, and one of the main causes of diabetes is excess weight, the Jupiter principle. The diabetes rate in the United States is 6.3%, and the country has the third largest number of diabetics in the world, only surpassed by India and China. The rate is only surpassed by Russia, at 6.8%, and that country has seen its standard of living and health care plunge drastically in the last 15 years. The number of diabetics is expected to increase worldwide as American diets and automobiles become increasingly popular overseas.

There is one more example of the excess of America that needs to be told. Recently it was reported [New York Times, p A1 4/24/2007] that the income of the top 25 hedge fund managers totalled $14 billion, with the top three earning an annual compensation of over one billion dollars each, and the top earner getting $1.7 billion. These incomes dwarfs Henry Ford’s adjusted annual income of $345 million. This is certainly Venus excess carried to a high level.

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