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America’s Martin Shkreli Problem Is Not Just Martin Shkreli


I owe my insights to Al Franken and his wonderful book “Lies, and the Lying Liars who Tell Them.”


I saw Stephen Pinker interviewed by Paul Solomon recently arguing for a kind of complacency, my word not his, because things are pretty good, we’re all doing okay, he says. I was not too impressed. Robert Reich is more inspiring, the Common Good is what we’ve lost sight of as the U.S. economy has been devastated these past 40 years or so.
When you mention Tribe I cannot help but think of the mini-documentary narrated by Peter Coyote about the Jewish people, The Tribe. Taken off of YouTube I think. Off topic, sorry.


Just did a little looking - Peter Coyote is an interesting man, no doubt.

I think it is very much on topic, actually. Robert Reich’s title for this article is very broad.

Not long ago I read Daniel Gordis’ “Israel: A Concise History”, and the autobiography of Shimon Peres. When I started jumping out of planes back in 1970, my first jump instructor was a Jewish man who had just come off a kibbutz in Israel - I was very impressed then, and still am, with the story of the Jewish people. My best and earliest friend in Montreal was also a Jewish lad, who went on to a career in filmmaking in Hollywood.

All of this is ‘on topic’, because the question Robert Reich is asking is who are we - really ?

Right now is the time to answer that question, before we rush down the wrong road at top speed.

And for the first time we have the tools to answer definitively - think genetic research, cognitive psychology, paleoanthropology and archaeology and the Earth System sciences.

And we can see where we are going - at least in part - in space exploration - in fundamental physics - from cosmology to particle and astro particle physics.

It’s been quite the journey - and not very pleasant for millions and millions - but it is nonetheless very much ‘our’ journey.

Many progressives seek, I find, simplistic and easy answers, when there are none.

Genetically and by dint of six or seven million years of living on the land - we are tribal hunter/gatherers, technological and cultural prodigies.

Our civilized experiment is only a fraction of that long - an inter-glacial experiment - a Holocene documentary.

We have exceeded the capacity of our planet to support us, and we are living now on borrowed time.

Thus the research. We have to get enough right to survive.

Tinkering with the current economic system is just band aids after a major car crash.

It’s triage time.


Does he always have that smirk on his face? And if so, does it cause problems while shaving?


It’s not just about capitalism. Capitalism just has its fair share of these narcissist assholes. Don’t think for a minute that these types of people don’t populate the higher echelons of everything. Just as turds float, the despicables seem to rise to the top of every organization that is too dysfunctional to effectively police itself. Unfortunately when it comes to success, personal behavior takes a back seat.


Capitalism is an ideology that says, by definition, wealth and power should be owned and controlled by a few (capitalists) and their cronies. BY DEFINITION it puts private/personal profit and power before public good.

This has nothing to do with narcissistic assholes or any other personality types, but everything do with a system/ideology and practice based on oppression and theft.

There is NOTHING POSITIVE about capitalism. It is refined feudalism.


There is no way that a drug developed in 1953, by the federal government and tested on people whose insurance paid for it should still be patented… I think we need an amendment about patents similar to Jonas Salks thinking…

Then there is also a question regarding the Board of Directors and Investors who gave this POS money to accomplish this travesty.


This is my understanding of what happened. The drug is expired from patent protection and he exploited a loop hole that no one would produce a generic version because of the limited market and expense. Evidently he is not the only one. In that process he broke other laws and that is why he was convicted. It is fairly complicated but that is my understanding.


It tells you everything you need to know about capitalism and the subservience on all levels of US government to the capitalist class that this capitalist went to jail for defrauding investors and not for raising the price of a life saving drug 5000%, thereby causing people who couldn’t afford it to die.


My only quibble is that capitalism is an economic system or a mode of production. It has an ideology that goes with it, but it isn’t an ideology. The definition of capitalism doesn’t put profit and power before the public good. The normal, profitable operation of capitalism does that.


Can’t separate the ideology from the fact. The ‘profit motive’ has no positive aspects whatsoever. It’s simply formalized, institutionalized greed.


Well, as I understand it, ideology is defined as distortions of thought that arise from and conceal social contradictions. This means the make believe stories told to conceal the inherent contradictions of capitalism. So, yes, you can separate ideology from the fact of capitalism as it arises from the fact of capitalism.


Sound judgment is about making distinctions. Clinton and Obama are not the same as Trump and Shkreli. The latter two are serious sociopaths. The former two, their flaws notwithstanding, are not.

As for the larger point, a market economy needs rules and regulations to control and curb excess. The US economy has flimsy-at-best rules and regulations. Moreover, most conservatives want nothing more badly than to further emaciate the few rules that exist, such as Warren’s Consumer Protection Agency.

Unfortunately, most Americans think the right is right about no-rules-are-good-rules. I suppose America must endure more inequality and middle class extinction to think again about that.


We fundamentally disagree.

While the Clintons and Obama are different personality types than the others you mention, all have willfully participated in crimes against humanity and mass murder due to the judgements they freely made in their positions of power. I would guess that their victims don’t give a shit about their personalities, whether they ‘feel our pain…’ or whatever. They are all functionaries in a political economy that is destroying life and lives – and even the possibility of life for many kinds (including humans) in out biosphere.

We fundamentally disagree.


The crime of Martin Shkreli was being open about greed. Right now in Calif billionaire Vinod Khosla is taking the state of Calif to the supreme court because he wants a part of the Calif beach all to himself. This ahole is out to destroy the coastline of Calif yet gets little notice. The Clinton’s and Obama are nothing but pawns-----we need to call out the real people who are behind the curtain-----people like the Mercers and Kock’s and the Sackler family that made a fortune off opioids.


We’ll never know but would Clinton (Bill or Hillary) or Obama invade Iraq as Bush did? Obama could have been more aggressive in Syria but was not. He voted to reduce engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trump, on the other hand, has quietly been aggressive militarily in Syria and with the appointment of Pompeo may invade Iran or spark a war in Korea. On the domestic front, do you really think Clinton or Obama would have implemented the tax giveaways to the uppers that Trump just did? Again, neither one did in the 8-year terms. As for Shkreli, he is in another league of despicable, at least in terms of market exploitation. If you’re arguing that Clinton and Obama are less progressive than Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or Noam Chomsky, you’re right, they are much less progressive. Clinton and Obama are center-right in most of their positions. But in my view, it is dangerous and counter-productive to lump center-right Democrats in with degenerate right-way extremists who favor hard-right libertarian economic policies and provocatively aggressive foreign policy positions. Neither is doing what they should or what we need done about the environment, but one, for example, wanted to drill in the Arctic and the others did not.

So yes, you’re right, we disagree.

I believe in the lesser of two evils. I will take getting insulted over getting stabbed or shot.


Good thing I don’t carry a knife or gun then. Many of your assertions above are factually incorrect, starting with Obama in Iraq and Syria and you could throw in Saudi Arabia and Apartheid Israel. And there’s the fact that the Obama administration deported more people than any in U.S. history, and the Clintons and de-regualtion of everything in sight, not to mention their corrupt foundation, and Clinton’s SecState Albright the proud child-killer, and Rwanda and the refusal to use the word genocide, and about all of SecStaet Clinton’s actions starting with the overthrow of the Bolivian government and the Liyan government, and the undermining of single-payer with OBCare, and the continually expanding military budgets and growing austerity that is literally murderous in its outcomes, etc., etc., etc…

I admit that Trump’s aesthetics are sickening, but his actual political results are mainstream Duopoly. And mainstream Duopoly results are evil. Not lesser or greater. Just evil and life-destroying.

So we disagree NB.

Have a nice day. Watch out for those daggers and guns.


Ok. Every American should take a coin into the voting both and flip because there is no meaningful difference between Republicans and Democrats, between hard-right Republicans and center-right Dems.

The disappointing thing is that you and I agree on most points about US imperialism and aggression but can’t agree that you should vote Democrat and push the government left over time.

The election last night in Pennsylvania is a great example of this. Sorry but a left-wing Democrat does not win that election. So I’ll take Lamb over Saccone every time and so should every person who wants to see a more decent US.

Liberals have to be more pragmatic. There aren’t enough Americans who believe in a truly liberal US to elect true liberals. So I say settle for the best Democrat that can win election.

Everything else is losing, loss, and lost.

Btw, I’ll assume you were not making a veiled threat with your opening and closing lines, which is a classically right-wing thing to do.


I don’t make threats, veiled or otherwise. If the joke is too veiled to understand, I plead guilty to not being George Carlin reincarnated. To suggest that my quips are threats is truly an ugly and wrong thing to do, unworthy of a guy (I assume by handle) who seems otherwise rationale. It’s a troll kinda thing in its effect.

Also accusing me of being right-wing is wrong and smacks of red-baiting when dealing with the left, an accusation that I have pleaded guilty to many times. I am a leftist, not a liberal, thank you. Smear away if you must, but really I don’t think my jokes are that bad.


Agreed! I still have my copy. Loved it! I miss Al.