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Attacked by One of Their Own

James Laughlin Visits Burma

James Laughlin Visits Burma

Every once in a million years, someone from the hated 1% not makes a positive contribution to the culture but also attacks his fellow millionaires. James Laughlin (1914-1997) was not only a poet of some repute, but also the founder and publisher of the New Directions paperbacks that are to be found all over my library, including my favorite volume of stories by Jorge Luis Borges:

One of My All-Time Faves

One of My All-Time Faves

Interestingly, James Laughlin was from the Laughlins of Jones & Laughlin Steel Company, founded in 1852 and one of the giants of American manufacturing.

Imagine what his family thought of the following poem attacking corporate executives for their intransigence in a remarkably modern way:

Confidential Report

The president of the
corporation was of the

opinion that the best
thing to do was just

to let the old ship
sink as pleasantly &

easily as possible be-
cause it was plain as

day you couldn’t op-
erate at a profit as

long as that man was
in the white house &

now he was there for
good you might just

as well fold yr hands
and shut yr face and

let the old boat take
water till she sank.

Now it is quite obvious that the president of whom Laughlin was talking was Franklin D. Roosevelt, though I can see the same thing being said about Obama, Carter, or even Clinton.