Friday, May 31, 2019

Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892)

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Tu canto, viejo Walt Whitman



Tu canto que labraste, viejo,
de la madera cruda del amor,
de la celebración del cuerpo y de la vida,
del corazón de la amistad lleno de sangre-miel,
visión de un país justo, apacible, entero
debe cantarse otra vez.
Los avaros, locos por el poder
y sus predilectos del temor y del odio
tienen poder sobre nosotros
y debemos alzar nuestra voz
fuerte, dar nuestro alarido indignado
y crear de esa misma madera
un mundo nuevo sobre esta tierra 
que podamos ocupar
en amor y goce, en balance y gracia. 




© Rafael Jesús González 2019 




https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Whitman




Your Song, Old Man Walt Whitman



The song you hewed, old man,
of the raw wood of love,
of celebration of the body & of life,
the honey-blood-filled heart of friendship,
vision of a country just, peaceful, whole
must be sung again.
The greedy, power-mad
& their minions of fear & hate
hold power over us
& we must raise our voices
loud to give our outraged yawp
& create of that same wood
a new world upon this Earth
which we may occupy
in love & joy, in balance & in grace.





© Rafael Jesús González 2019


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Whitman


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Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day


Celebrating Memorial Day (a federal holiday in the United States for remembering and honoring persons who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces) let us reflect on the fact that the United States is and has been in a constant state of war since its beginning. War, the single most cause of wasting of the Earth and creating climate change, wasting of lives (U.S. lives and even more so, lives in the countries we invade or in which we "intervene"), wasting of resources which neither the Earth nor we can afford.

Now the United States is governed by its 45th President, a man of an authoritarian disposition, an outright liar with utter disregard for truth, ignorant of government, and intent on war — a nuclear war he is provoking with Iran sending more troops to the Middle East, more ships, and threatens to invade Venezuela which is in an acute economic and political crisis due to U.S. sanctions and CIA activity.

And what democracy we have been struggling for since the inception of the United States is at stake.




For sometime now, I have shared my thoughts during my visit to the Vietnam Memorial in 2006 as my way of honoring Memorial Day:


My first day in Washington D.C., in the heat of August, straight from the Museum of the American Indian, wearing my T-shirt picturing the Apache Jerónimo and his armed companions and reading, “Homeland Security, Fighting Terrorism since 1492”, I walk down the Mall, skirt the obelisk of the Washington Monument, down the reflecting pool, past the white marble Greek temple of the Lincoln Monument, to the Viet-Nam Wall —a pilgrimage to the memorial to “my war,” mine not because I fought in it, but because I fought against it — heart, mind, and soul.

My intent, a kind of penance, like saying the rosary, is to start at one end to the other and read each and every one of the 58,245 names, imagining a face, an age, a history, a life. I know it will be hard, but do not think it impossible (not one of the five million names of the Vietnamese dead are even alluded to.) I start with one name, John H. Anderson Jr. (PFC, 19 years of age, dead May 25, 1968, I later look up in the log), then several, increasing exponentially. It becomes more and more difficult to focus, the faces, the figures of families, lovers, tourists reflected moving against the mirroring black granite Wall is a distraction, their chatter, at times their laughter, an intrusion upon my meditations. As the Wall grows longer, rises higher and higher toward the center, the names crowd upon each other, pile up high and tight, at times difficult to distinguish, I do not know if for the numbers, the height, for the glare of the sun, or for the tears welling in my eyes. The names, the letters blur, run together.

I begin to skim, to let my attention chance upon a name, a Smith, a Cohen, a Bankowski, an O’Mally, a Chan, certainly a González here and there — every European and many another culture represented by a name. How came they to be there, what history of need, what myth or dream of theirs, or of some recent or distant ancestor, brought them to be “American” and die in a war without sense or reason?

After a time my reading becomes cursory, I occasionally stop, kneel to pick up and read a letter, a note of testimonial — of love, of remembrance — left at the foot of the Wall by some surviving wife, sweetheart, mother, father, son, daughter, nephew, niece, friend. A flag here and there, a flower (mostly artificial, a few in soda bottles, wilting in the heat.)

My mind gradually becomes numb, at times almost hallucinatory, wonders —imagines seeing the name there of a moneyed coward with powerful political connections that now inhabits a white house not far away.


* -----*----- *

They say the dead live on for as long as they are remembered. How many of these names etched here are still remembered? A few people, holding scraps of paper against the black stone make rubbings. Most hurry by, the kids impatient to reach the end, the names picked there not interesting enough to hold their attention. The names.

Last year, Xochipilli, my men’s ritual group, in collaboration with the ‘Faces of the War Project,’ created an Ofrenda to the Victims of War, for the Días de los Muertos Community Celebration at the Oakland Museum of California. The ofrenda stood against the walls lined with the photographs and names of the U. S. soldiers dead in Iraq, the names, without the photographs, of Iraqi dead. The names, still fresh, living in recent memory. Another war, as senseless, as irredeemable as that of Viet-Nam. I am tired, my face wet with sweat and tears I do not bother to wipe away. Tourists look at me, respectfully keep their distance, look away. They sense that this, that of Viet-Nam, is my war; I do not know if my T-shirt gives them a clue as to why.


* -----*----- *

I reach the other end of the Wall, Jessie Charles Alba (Sgt., aged 20, dead May 25, 1968, the middle of the war.)


* -----*----- *

Retracing my way up the reflecting pool, I must climb the steps of the Lincoln Memorial from which Marian Anderson once sang, from which Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of his dream. I stand before the colossal figure of Lincoln enthroned and read his words chiseled into the white marble to his right: “ . . . a government of the people, for the people, by the people . . .” A pious hope devoutly to be wished.



Washington D.C.; August 15, 2006


© Rafael Jesús González 2019






 
Celebrando el Día de Conmemoración (fiesta patria en los EE.UU. para recordar y honrar personas muertas en servicio en las fuerzas armadas de los EE.UU.) reflexionemos sobre el hecho de que los Estados Unidos está y ha estado en estados de guerra constantes desde su principio. Guerra, la causa principal del derroche de la Tierra y criando cambio climático, derrochando vidas (vidas estadounidenses y aun más vidas en los países que invadimos o en que "intervenimos"), derrochando recursos que ni la Tierra ni nosotros podemos permitir.

Ahora los Estados Unidos es gobernado por su Presidente No. 45, un hombre de disposición autoritaria, un descarado mentiroso sin ningún respeto por la verdad, ignorante del gobierno e intento en hacer guerra — guerra nuclear que provoca enviando más tropas al Medio Oriente, más buques, y amenaza invadir Venezuela que está en aguda crisis económica y política debida a sanciones de los EE. UU. y actividad de la CIA.


Y la democracia por la cual hemos luchado desde la incepción de los Estados Unidos está en riesgo.

Hace ya tiempo que he compartido mi pensar durante mi visita al Monumento a Vietnam en 2006 como mi modo de celebrar el Día de Conmemoración:






El primer día en Washington D.C., en el calor de agosto, justo del Museo del Indio Americano, llevo mi camiseta con la imagen del apache Jerónimo y sus compañeros armados que lee, “Homeland Security, Luchando contra el Terrorismo desde 1492.” Camino por la alameda, el Mall, rodeo el obelisco del monumento a Washington, sigo la alberca, paso el templo griego de mármol blanco del monumento a Lincoln, al Muro de Vietnam — peregrinaje al monumento a “mi guerra,” mía no porque luché en ella, sino porque luché en oposición de ella — corazón, mente y alma.

Mi intención, un tipo de penitencia, como decir el rosario, es empezar de una punta a la otra y leer cada uno y todos los 58, 245 nombres, imaginándome un rostro, una edad, una historia, una vida. Sé que será difícil, pero no lo creo imposible (ni siquiera se alude ni a uno de los cinco millones de nombres de los vietnamitas muertos.) Empiezo con un nombre, John H. Anderson Jr. (PFC, 19 años de edad, muerto el 25 de mayo 1968, más tarde busco en la lista), luego varios, aumentando exponentemente. Se me hace más y más difícil enfocarme, las caras, las figuras de familias, amantes, turistas reflejados moviéndose contra el espejo del Muro de granito negro es una distracción, su parloteo, a veces su risa, una intrusión en mis meditaciones. A grado que el Muro se hace más largo, se eleva más y más alto hacia el centro, los nombres se amontonan uno sobre el otro, se amontonan alto y apretado, a veces difíciles de distinguir, no sé si por la cantidad, la altura, el relumbre del sol o las lágrimas que me llenan los ojos. Los nombres, las letras se borran, se corren una contra la otra.

Empiezo a pasar los nombres por en cima, dejar mi atención caer sobre un nombre u otro, un Smith, un Cohen, un Bankowski, un O’Mally, un Chan, indudablemente un González aquí y allá — toda cultura Europea y muchas otras representadas por un nombre. ¿Cómo llegaron a estar allí, que historia de necesidad, que mito o sueño suyo, o de algún antepasado reciente o lejano, los trajeron a ser “americano” y morir en una guerra sin sentido o razón?

Después de algún tiempo mi lectura se hace superficial, paro de vez en cuando, me arrodillo a levantar y leer una carta, una nota de testimonio — de amor, de recuerdo — depositada al pie del Muro por algún sobreviviente, esposa, novia, madre, padre, hijo, sobrino, sobrina, amigo. Una bandera aquí y allá, una flor (la mayoría artificiales, unas cuantas en botellas de refresco, marchitándose en el bochorno.)

La mente se me entume gradualmente, a veces casi halucinante, se desvía — imagina ver allí el nombre de un cobarde adinerado con conexiones políticas poderosas que ahora habita una casa blanca no lejos de aquí.

* ------*------ *
Dicen que los muertos viven mientras sean recordados. ¿Cuántos de los nombres aquí grabados son aun recordados? Algunas personas, poniendo trozos de papel contra la piedra negra hacen borradores. La mayoría se apresuran, los muchachos impacientes a llegar al final, los nombres cincelados allí no lo suficiente interesantes para captarles la atención. Los nombres.

El año pasado, Xochipilli, mi grupo de hombres dedicado a la ceremonia, en colaboración con el ‘Proyecto Rostros de la Guerra’, montó una ofrenda a las víctimas de la guerra para la Celebración Comunitaria del Día de Muertos en el Museo de California en Oakland. La ofrenda se puso contra las paredes cubiertas de las fotografías y nombres de los soldados estadounidenses muertos en Irak, los nombres, sin fotografías, de muertos Iraki. Los nombres, aun frescos, vivientes en la memoria reciente. Otra guerra, tan insensata, tan irredimible como la de Vietnam. Estoy cansado, la cara húmeda de sudor y llanto que no me preocupo de limpiar. Me miran los turistas, respetuosamente guardan la distancia, alejan la mirada. Sienten que esta, la de Vietnam, es mi guerra; no sé si mi camiseta les sugiera por que.

* ------*------ *
Llego al otro extremo del Muro, Jessie Charles Alba (Sgt., 20 años de edad, muerto el 25 de mayo 1968, a mediados de la guerra.)

* ------*------ *

Retrazando mis pasos a lo largo de la alberca, me siento obligado a subir los escalones del monumento a Lincoln desde los cuales Marian Anderson una vez cantó, desde los cuales Martin Luther King, Jr. habló de su sueño. Paro ante la figura colosal de Lincoln entronizado y leo sus palabras cinceladas en el mármol blanco a su derecha: “. . . un gobierno del pueblo, para el pueblo, del pueblo . . .” Esperanza pía devotamente anhelada.
-
Washington D.C.; 15 de agosto 2006


------------------------------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2019



Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Gemini


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------------Géminis

Los gemelos,
él con collar de esmeraldas,
ella con collar de perlas,
arrullan en sus brazos
------al aire inconstante
y en sus manos llevan
puños de azogue inquieto.
Miden la dualidad
y en su intelecto brillan
las luces lejanas de Mercurio.





---------© Rafael Jesús González 2019





-------------Gemini



The twins,
he with a collar of emeralds,
she with a collar of pearls,
rock in their arms
------the inconstant air
& carry in their hands
fistfuls of restless quicksilver.
They measure duality
& in their intellect shine
the faraway lights of Mercury.





-----------© Rafael Jesús González 2019


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Saturday, May 18, 2019

full moon: Full Moon Over the Rockies

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Luna llena sobre la Sierra Rocosa


Sobre los picos nevados
más atrás de las nubes cargadas de nieve
la luna llena jala la marea de la sangre.
Entre poetas estoy menos solo
y tan solo como siempre;
las palabras son solamente mías
y de todo mundo —
como la luna.



                    © Rafael Jesús González 2019





 Full Moon Over Telluride



Full Moon Over the Rockies


Above the snowy peaks
beyond the snow burdened clouds
the full moon pulls on the blood's tide.
Among poets I am less alone
& as alone as always;
the words are mine alone
& everyone else's —
like the moon.


                     
© Rafael Jesús González 2019



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Telluride Literary Festival: contests & awards

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https://telluridelitfest.weebly.com/poetry.html
 

Rafael Jesús González reads a poem about the challenges of judging a writing prize.

Our last episode of season 1 was about awards: how should we think of them? Are they worth caring about? How do you manage your disappointment when you don’t win? One of our guests on the episode, Rafael Jesús González, was the (reluctant) judge of the 2019 Fischer Poetry Prize. Here, he reads his poem about what it was like to select a winner. 

https://emergingform.substack.com/

Read the text of his poem below:


Judging for the Fischer Poetry Prize


Winnowing them down is not easy —
even to fifty, then forty, thirty —
still harder twenty, ten & finally one.
". . . so much hope lies in your hands,"
a colleague writes, the words carrying
more meaning than she meant. Each entry
speaks its own voice, probing reality
with imagination, with the heart. I read
each once, twice, thrice, four times,
five or more, return to it. The voices mingle,
mix, tangle — a cacophony, a counterpoint.
How to single out the one voice? One no better
than the other, just different — there is no best.
Each opens a door, tears down a wall, says
a truth I have always known in my bones,
or a truth I had not known but now I do.
I look for a honed sense of justice, compassion,
an openness to beauty that wrenches. I could say
that I choose for precision of diction, choice
of metaphor, syntax, but we would all know it
for the bull scat it would be — I choose by my own
history, my own memories, joys, pains, betrayals,
awe — by what I ate last night, drank, smoked,
dreamt. I choose by what I am most vulnerable to
as the deadline falls — I cannot tell you how;
there is no best, only what now moves me most.
The biggest prize worth having is already theirs:
the gift of widening the vision, empowering the heart.
-----------Thank you.


~ Rafael Jesús González

Poet Laureate, City of Berkeley, California

How Should We Think About Awards & Contests? 

 (R. J. G. at 22:36)

* * *

Episode 9 Bonus: Luis Lopez and 
Rafael Jesús González on Creative Process

In this bonus episode, Luis Lopez, poet laureate of Colorado’s Western Slope, and Rafael Jesús González, poet laureate of Berkeley, each read a poem and talk about their writing process. And that’s not all! Rafael Jesús González wrote a poem about judging the Fischer poetry prize. We think his poem should be prerequisite reading for all judges and all contest entrants!

 

   

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https://emergingform.substack.com/

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mothers' Day


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Mothers' Day is celebrated in the United States the second Sunday of May, and throughout the world on various dates. But in them all, this day in which reverence from the heart is rendered to the mother, is at the same time pretext for a cloying sentimentality that commerce foments to sell saccharin cards, odorless carnations, and expensive trinkets to increase profits.

We forget the origins of this relatively modern holiday. Mother's Day was started after the U.S. Civil War as a protest to the carnage of that war by women who had lost their sons to war. Such was the beginning of an annual Mothers' Day proposed by a mother. Let us render with a full heart our homage to our mothers and the mothers of everyone and let us not fall into facile sentimentality but dedicate ourselves to preventing the suffering of all mothers (and their children): poverty, hunger, abandonment, lack of shelter, lack of education, violence, war.

Rafael Jesús González



Here is the original Mother's Day Proclamation from 1870, followed by a a reminder of what the original intent of Mother's Day was from 'A history of Mother's Day' by a UC Davis historian:

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of fears! Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says "Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.







Mother's Day for Peace - by Ruth Rosen:


Honor Mother with Rallies in the Streets.

The holiday began in activism; it needs rescuing from commercialism and platitudes.

Every year, people snipe at the shallow commercialism of Mother's Day. But to ignore your mother on this holy holiday is unthinkable. And if you are a mother, you're supposed to be devastated if your ingrates fail to honor you at least one day of the year.

Mother's Day wasn't always like this... because Mother's Day began as a holiday that commemorated women's public activism, not as a celebration of a mother's devotion to her family.

The story begins in 1858 when a community activist named Anna Reeves Jarvis organized Mothers' Works Days in West Virginia. Her immediate goal was to improve sanitation in Appalachian communities. During the Civil War, Jarvis pried women from their families to care for the wounded on both sides. Afterward she convened meetings to persuade men to lay aside their hostilities.




In 1872, Julia Ward Howe, author of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic", proposed an annual Mother's Day for Peace. Committed to abolishing war, Howe wrote: "Our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage.. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs".

Julia Ward Howe
For the next 30 years, Americans celebrated Mothers' Day for Peace on June 2.

Many middle-class women in the 19th century believed that they bore a special responsibility as actual or potential mothers to care for the casualties of society and to turn America into a more civilized nation. They played a leading role in the abolitionist movement to end slavery. In the following decades, they launched successful campaigns against lynching and consumer fraud and battled for improved working conditions for women and protection for children, public health services and social welfare assistance to the poor. To the activists, the connection between motherhood and the fight for social and economic justice seemed self-evident.

In 1913, Congress declared the second Sunday in May to be Mother's Day. By then, the growing consumer culture had successfully redefined women as consumers for their families. Politicians and businessmen eagerly embraced the idea of celebrating the private sacrifices made by individual mothers. As the Florists' Review, the industry's trade journal, bluntly put it, " This was a holiday that could be exploited."... Since then, Mother's Day has ballooned into a billion-dollar industry.

Americans may revere the idea of motherhood and love their own mothers, but not all mothers. Poor, unemployed mothers may enjoy flowers, but they also need child care, job training, health care, a higher minimum wage and paid parental leave. Working mothers may enjoy breakfast in bed, but they also need the kind of governmental assistance provided by every other industrialized society.

With a little imagination, we could restore Mother's Day as a holiday that celebrates women's political engagement in society. During the 1980's, some peace groups gathered at nuclear test sites on Mother's Day to protest the arms race. Today, our greatest threat is not from missiles but from our indifference toward human welfare and the health of our planet.

Imagine, if you can, an annual Million Mother March in the nation's capital. Imagine a Mother's Day filled with voices demanding social and economic justice and a sustainable future,....public activism does not preclude private expressions of love and gratitude. (Nor does it prevent people from expressing their appreciation all year round.)


Ruth Rosen is a professor of history at UC Davis.






El Día de madres se celebra en los Estados Unidos el segundo domingo de mayo, y por el mundo entero en distintas fechas. Pero en todas, este día en el cual se le rinde veneración de corazón a la madre es a la vez pretexto para un sentimentalismo empalagoso que el comercio fomenta para vender tarjetas sacarinas, claveles sin aroma, y chucherías para aumentar las ganancias.

Olvidamos el origen de esta fiesta relativamente moderna. El Día de Madres empezó después de la guerra civil de los Estados Unidos como protesta a la mortandad en esa guerra por las mujeres que habían perdido a sus hijos a la guerra. Tal fue el principio del Día de Madres anual propuesto por una madre. Brindemos de todo corazón nuestros homenajes a todas nuestras madres y las madres de todos y no caigamos en el sentimentalismo fácil sino dediquémonos a evitar el sufrimiento de toda madre (y sus hij@s): la pobreza, el hambre, el abandono, el desamparo, falta de educación, violencia, la guerra.


Rafael Jesús González


 

Aquí la proclamación de 1870:

¡Levantémonos, entonces, mujeres de este día! ¡Levantémonos todas las mujeres que tengamos corazones, sea nuestro bautismo de agua o de temores! Digamos firmemente: “No permitiremos que las grandes cuestiones sean decididas por agencias que no vienen al caso. Nuestros esposos no vendrán hediendo a carnicería a nosotras por caricias y aplauso. No se nos quitarán a nuestros hijos para que desaprendan todo lo que les hemos podido enseñar de la caridad, la piedad y la paciencia.Nosotras las mujeres de un país seremos demasiadas tiernas de las de otro país para permitir que nuestros hijos sean entrenados a dañar a los suyos. Del pecho de la Tierra devastada una voz se alzará con la nuestra. Dice, “¡Desarmad, desarmad! La espada del homicidio no es la balanza de la justicia.”

La sangre no limpia nuestra deshonra ni la violencia indica posesión. Como los hombres han a menudo abandonado el arado y el yunque a la citación de la guerra, que las mujeres ahora dejen todo lo que se pueda dejar del hogar para un gran y fervoroso día de deliberación. Que se encuentren primero, como mujeres, para llorar y conmemorar a los muertos.

Que entonces solemnemente se aconsejen unas con la otras de modo que la gran familia humana pueda vivir en paz, cada quien llevando a su propio tiempo la empresa sagrada, no la de César, sino la de Dios.

En el nombre de la mujer y de la humanidad, fervorosamente pido que un congreso general de mujeres sin limites de nacionalidad sea designado y convocado en algún lugar determinado más conveniente y en el más cercano periodo consistente con sus objetivos, promover la alianza de las distintas nacionalidades, la resolución amigable de cuestiones internacionales, los grandes y generales intereses de la paz.






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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

May Day - International Day of the Worker

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International Day of the Worker
without whom nothing that we have would be.



“Capitalism is the astonishing belief
that the nastiest motives of the nastiest men
somehow or other work for the best results
in the best of all possible worlds.”



----------------------------------------—  attributed to John Maynard Keynes

-------------------------------------------------------  ---Economist (1883 – 1946)
 



"We can either have democracy in this country
or we can have great wealth 
concentrated in the hands of a few,
but we can't have both."


-------------------------------------------------------------Louis Brandeis

------------------------------------------------------------------Supreme Court Justice (1916 to 1939)





 



Día internacional del/la trabajador(a)
sin quien nada de lo que tenemos hubiera.



“El capitalismo es la creencia asombrosa
que los motivos más repugnantes 
de los hombres más indecentes
de algún modo u otro obran para obtener 
los mejores resultados
en el mejor de todos los mundos posibles.”



-----------------------------------------—  atribuido a John Maynard Keynes

-----------------------------------------------------------  ---Economista (1883 – 1946)




“Podemos tener en este país o democracia
o grande riqueza concentrada en manos de pocos
pero no ambos.” 



-------------------------------------------------------Louis Brandeis

---------------------------------------------Juez de la Corte Suprema EE.UU. (1916 a 1939)








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