Martin Shkreli: the Worst Person in America, or Embodiment of the American Dream?

Martin Shkreli: the Worst Person in America, or Embodiment of the American Dream?

Rachel CohenMonday,14 December 2015

We can’t continue to wonder about how we got to the current political climate without looking in the mirror. Yes, the current crop of political candidates is potentially the most racist, most uneducated, and most hateful group of people we’ve seen on a stage since Ms. Palin stole our dark, shriveled hearts, but a cursory glance around the nation’s commercial sector shows that goddamn, maybe being a terrible person is the real American Dream.

Let’s start with Martin Shkreli, who seems to be on the quest to be elected president as early as 2020 at this point.

Shkreli so perfectly represents the problem with the modern America. He’s self-made at 32, despite coming from a working class immigrant family from Brooklyn. He loves rap (?), started a hedge fund, and has now taken his Trump-level business acumen to the pharmaceutical industry, which, as we all know, is one of America’s most struggling industries. (If you’re not going to click on the link, spoiler alert: it has hundreds of billions of problems but money ain’t one).

Earlier this year Shkreli got his smug face plastered all over our TV screens by announcing that he would hike the cost of Daraprim over 5,000% – from $13.50 to $750 a pill.

Sure, you say, but did you know that Daraprim is created from the feces of the rare gold unicorn and is the only thing that will bring Tink back?

Oh wait, it’s actually a synthetic compound that can help people with AIDS and weakened immune systems fight toxoplasmosis? And it can be made for just $1 a pill?

So obviously, Shkreli the shrewd businessman learned his lesson and dropped the price back down, right?

Really? No. No he did not. He made it seem like he would, but instead is “negotiating” discount rates for hospitals, but insurance companies will still get billed that lovely $750/pill amount. Therefore, those same insurance companies, who hold every US citizen hostage with their ludicrous premiums and policies, can continue to say that they need to keep raising costs because look, even this single pill costs $750.

In fact, Shkreli has had so much success with his Daraprim stunt that he is now doing the same with a drug that treats a rare infection called Chagras.

The biggest problems with these stunts – because let’s be serious, that’s all they are – is that they are targeting drugs needed to help treat the poorest and weakest members of the world’s population. As we know from watching the Big Men on the TeeVee, these poor and weak (and foreign! don’t forget the immigrants) are some of the biggest drains on American Industry, so is the rationale here that if we just kill them off slowly by not giving them medical treatment that the problem will be solved?

Of course, none of this would be an issue if we simply agreed to adopt a real form of universal healthcare, but perhaps freedom from corporate greed is just not part of the American Dream after all.

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Image Credit: NEPA Scene on Flickr

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