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America’s Martin Shkreli Problem Is Not Just Martin Shkreli


America’s Martin Shkreli Problem Is Not Just Martin Shkreli

Robert Reich

On Friday, Martin Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in prison. What, if anything, does Shkreli’s downfall tell us about modern America?

Shkreli’s early life exemplified the rags-to-riches American success story. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, in April 1983, to parents who immigrated from Albania and worked as janitors in New York apartment buildings. Shkreli attended New York’s Hunter College High School, a public school for intellectually gifted young people, and in 2005 received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Baruch College.


The fundamental problem with a society that promotes the notions of “survival of the fittest” and “dog eat dog” wherein the Commons and Community is sacrificed in order to promote the Individual over all is that the Socio-path will rise to positions of wealth and power.

Jonas Salk on developing the Polio vaccine was asked why he did not patent it and replied “one might as well patent the sun” as he saw it as his moral duty to ensure all people could receive this vaccine. That he was able to develop said vaccine demonstrates how those claiming that in order to have such advances an individual or entity needs to make profits off it are full of it.

The suggestion that the Corporation is a person is another farce. The Corporation is formed only to maximize profits and shield its investors from responsibility for their actions… Like the Socio-path it has no Conscience and will not act on its Conscience.

There a reason so many of those common foot soldiers that fight in foreign lands commit suicide (as pointed out in a video recently looked to by another here) and that because those people feel GUILT for their actions. That those that gave the orders to do this , the Politicans and generals , and those that backed the wars in the media do not commit suicide shows they feel NO GUILT because they have no Conscience.

Capitalism ensures these people prosper.


The dangers of culture have been discussed here often. Sports culture in the U.S. (and other countries as well), fits ‘perfectly’ with the rapacious cultures of capitalism and militarism. Friendly competition and wholesome exercise transform into ‘win at all costs’ and ‘all spoils to the victor’ mentality. Playing ‘for your team’ and ‘doing your part’ become the youthful paradigm/catechism of capitalistic subservience and authority. Dedication to, and preoccupation with the physical/mental actions which create dominance is irreconcilable with a culture that would reflect upon how we can work together to ensure we all benefit. As humans, are we better off to cooperate together or to fight like animals? Capitalists cast their vote for fighting like animals. This uncritical, narcissistic, individualistic, aggressive culture seamlessly morphs into the automaton behavior of powerful, wealthy cabals of extremist political zealots ruling the roost for decades.
There is no real progress without recognizing the brutality and sickness of our dominant culture. May humans choose humanistic values and reject the deceptions of a coercive culture.


We probably all went to school with people like this. These were the people cheating on tests. They didn’t care about learning anything, just getting a good enough grade and moving up toward graduation. I would assume they acted similarly when they got into business. Just sell the product, anyway you can. Capitalism can be ethical or unethical. We don’t hear about ethical people doing something right. We only hear about people who do something wrong so it sounds like everyone is doing it. You have unethical parents raising kids. It is just passed on. Sometimes the kids reject their unethical parents as role models and strive to do the right thing. Shkreli is an extreme case. But he does typify a common attitude, particularly in the business world where ethics often seems nonexistent.


The really sad part is that when trying to apply a boundary to this type of behavior it is difficult because the worst of what he did is not illegal. His bail was revoked because he put a bounty on Hillery’s hair. Note he cried like a baby because he is going to have to appeal this decision. He is obviously not a person that can self regulate.


What a little toady, he went to Hunter College High School.


Insert “Trump,” “Clintons,” “Obama,” etc. for the name Shkreli. Scratch their (generally ugly) surfaces and they pretty much have the same world-view. As SDP and Edmundo so clearly note: it’s about Capitalism - an ideology and way of life forged in hell.


God Bless you Robert Reich. One of the last of the New Dealers at heart. America is forsaken.


I would not lump either Obama nor the Clintons in with Trump nor in with the Republican, Libertarian, Neo-Con base at all. My friends stopped dying of AIDS under Bill Clinton’s Administration which, when compared to the previous 12 years of Reagan/Bush (which brought us the downsizing, offshoring, outsourcing, prison industrial complex, AIDS epidemic, CRACK epidemic, homeless epidemic, need I go on?) were like a tonic for the soul. Clinton actually raised taxes on the One Percent to a genuine 39%. And he balanced the budget. He was forced to do things under a witherring assault from the “vast right wing conspiracy” which really did exist, set in motion by Richard Mellon Scaife and his vicious cronies. Neo-Liberals and the neo-conservative Zionist media manipulated Obama and to some extent Clinton, but they do not deserve to be in the same category as Trump et al. Not by a long shot.


Agree. And what is the alternative to capitalism? That question sort of quiets the room.


I’ve lived in Denmark, rated the best country in which to live worldwide. They seem to have a kind of hybrid socialist monarchy. The Great Wrath of China is a DIRECT result of communism, like it or not. I don’t get quiet when anyone asks for alternatives. Laissez fair capitalism is a total failure for the majority and always has been. Socialism works better, always has, yet there are no pure socialist systems. Next time you need polikce, fire, education, emergency healthcare, thank the socialists. A pay to play capitalist scheme didn’t work too well when tried back in the day.


Doesn’t Denmark have private corporations? I’ve been there and thought Copenhagen looked like a great city to live in. My impression is that all the Scandinavian countries have economies based on capitalism.


As we found out during the New Deal era (1935-1985) capitalism can be beneficial for those not part of the 1%, but only because capitalism, especially banking, was regulated, and tax rates limited the 1% from owning most politicians.

US corporate law has always required corporations to act in the best interests of stockholders. Without adequate regulation (missing in the US for the past three decades) customers, taxpayers, the environment, etc. will always be abused by corporations…its required by their charters.

Whenever any of my brainwashed friends tell me that corporations can self-regulate, I tell them I want some of what they are smoking.


The topic here is, I think, the ‘social contract’. The attempt by so many since the dawn of civilization to address the systemic rampant inequality which seems the very hallmark of civilization itself.

I find Thomas Piketty’s take in “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” helpful but only a partial answer.

“Tribe” by Sebastian Junger takes us back to a more egalitarian time - but is also only helpful, in that there appears no way of returning to the small band upon the land, where egalitarianism was a necessity, not a choice.

“Enlightenment Now” by Steven Pinker is on my reading list, but I suspect it too will prove only helpful.

Today I found “The Anatomy of Inequality”, by a learned and experienced man from Sweden, and it is my next read. I like Per Molander’s style and common sense approach, sort of the basic physics of inequality - right at the root.

We really do have to get a handle on the basics. It works flying a plane, or climbing a mountain, or building a neutrino telescope at the South Pole.

We should employ, I think, the same approach in the social and political realms?

The Anatomy of Inequality


“And what is the alternative to capitalism?” Answer, socialized capitalism, where the benefits of business and labor are more equally divided, so that instead of trickle down, we have trickle up. I would argue that wealth should be distributed in the form of a guaranteed basic income, so that the economy is supported from the bottom up. We used to have a system similar to this, but that was ended by that republican in democrat’s clothing, Bill Clinton, with “welfare reform.” Personally, I would have gone a lot further than the previous “welfare state.” The prevailing “philosophy” these days is that we are not a community, but only a collection of individuals who have nothing but our own interests at heart. Dog eat dog. This is great for the wealthy. Not so much for the 99% of the rest of us. If we distributed the wealth through progressive taxation and insured the health of local economies by insuring that local people have money to spend, people would still get rich. The rest of us, however, would live a whole hell of a lot better and our economy would boom from the bottom up. The Scandinavian system works to float all boats. The powers that be in the US would have us believe that it cannot work here. That is merely self-serving claptrap, the lying “rationale” of the people who have it all and don’t want to see a single penny of their gravy train going to better the community at large. It is profoundly anti-Christian and obscenely immoral.


Socialized capitalism still sounds like capitalism to me. We do have a social welfare state, social security, food stamps, title 8 housing, etc. There was a reason for welfare reform besides the political reasons. There were generations living on welfare. It created a dependency on the government that was undermining communities. Clinton says the problem with the reform was that the Republicans wanted the money in block grants for states instead of specifically for the new program. As Clinton tells it what happened is many states did not spend a lot of the money on the new program but used it for other things. I think it was a mistake to turn it over to the states. I think certainly a safety net programs was needed but nobody could really figure out how to make it work right. People who opted to work and put their children in day care wound up poorer than the people who stayed on welfare. The trick is to make it financially better to work than receive welfare in the short run but that was never solved. Support for a guaranteed income is growing now that there are concerns that robots and computers are going to put almost out of work. People are preparing for a post-work society. Maybe it will not happen but many people are trying to figure out what to do if it does. We could be about 15 or 20 years away.


But will the price of Daraprim now go down?


Thank you for putting things into perspective!


Nicely put! Concise and correct!


Socialism isn’t communism. Private ownership is part of socialism but State acquisition of surplus labor in the form of higher taxation is the norm, isn’t it? I’m no poli-sci major but it seems to me hybrid systems work much better than laissez fair capitalism, for the People, anyway. The One Percenters tried to overthrow Roosevelt with the “Business Plot”. Socialism has never worked for the One Percent.