Friday, December 18, 2015


Martin Shkreli, a pharmaceutical  entrepreneur was arrested yesterday and social media erupted in a flurry of cheers that the man who gained recent fame for buying pharmaceutical companies and raising the prices of older drugs, was finally arrested for his crimes of using his wealth to hurt the public good.

Of course there is no crime of using one's wealth for hurting the public good, but most people think there should be, and Shkreli should be the first defendant. 

Shkreli was arrested for allegations having nothing to do with raising the prices of drugs he owned. The charges were that Shkreli committed fraud by using money raised in one hedge fund to pay off loses in a prior hedge fund. 

But what we want to examine is the scoundrel who had the audacity to raise the prices of something he owned that people needed. How dare he! 

Ownership of private property must always be sacrificed to the public good. We all agree on  that, right? 

For instance if you develop  a new app, or a web site, or even if you're a lawyer who writes a really good motion after weeks of research that others need, then you should be forced to give up your property- your work- if others really really need it. Or at least be forced to sell it to others at what some other committee- call it the "committee on fair prices for what people really really need" decides what the fair price should be. That's only fair, right? No one man or woman or company should be able to charge what they want for something if society (whomever that is) decides that others really really need it. 

This is the American way, right? 
It's in our constitution, correct? 
"From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs." We think it's in the first or second amendment. 

Let's say you do thousands of hours of work and find a perfect piece of property and negotiate a really good price. And a few weeks later the "committee on fair prices for what people really really need" decides that the people really really need a park, or a hospital or a reeducation center on that property. Then it's only right that although you bought the property with your own money and took the risk, that you should be forced to sell it to help others. Right? Wealth shouldn't entitle you to keep for yourself something others want and really really need, right? 

It's the same with Mr. Shkreli's decision to raise the prices of drugs of companies he bought. He took the risk. He spent his own money. Others could have done that. But he did. They didn't. But because people really really need the drugs, he had no right- none! to raise the prices of the drugs he owned. His ownership- his right to his private property must fall to the needs of society. Right? There oughta be a law. 

Mr. Shkreli should be arrested and prosecuted for raising the prices of a product he owns because other people really really need it. 

The concept we are expounding upon is called Altruist-Collectivist Ethics. And it has a foundation in law and government. So long as the law is the law of the Soviet Union, or China, or Cuba, or Nazi Germany, where private property rights were outlawed or severely restricted and all rights had to be weighed against the needs of the people. And the needs of the people were decided by a "people's committee", or a "Fuhrer" or someone named Castro. 

Yeah- go after Shkreli for raising prices. So long as you drape yourself in a communist or nationalist-socialist flag. 

Or if you want a rational explanation of rights and why property rights are the foundation of all rights, read this. 

See You In Court. 


Anonymous said...

The fact that Mr. Shkreli is taking the principles of Ayn Rand to their logical extreme explains why so many people dislike the principles of Ayn Rand.

Anonymous said...

You completely miss the point. What Shkreli did was perfectly legal, and grossly immoral. None of the examples you give are remotely applicable. He found a market inefficiency (that happened to save people's lives) and chose to exploit it. Nothing illegal about it, but there is nothing remotely admirable about what he did either. And people have every right to bash him in the court of public opinion for his choices.

old guy said...

I would be honored to pad my PRO BONO hours by defending anyone who killed such an economic despot, if the newly inflated cost of the drugs caused actual harm to any person in the killer's family.
Yes, I have a good concept of capitalism.
I also see the defense of others as a viable claim.

Anonymous said...

Gee, I couldn't think of a nicer guy to put in jail....

Rumpole said...

yeah you all have no sympathy for this guy because he raised the prices of drugs (gasp) because (someone) said we really really need these drugs. You all fail to grasp the concept that if they can take his property because they need it- they can take yours. And you will continue to be buffaloed by the sad stories of unaffordable drugs right up until the time they take your property- and then you will hire me and ask "how can they do that?" And I will point to what they did to him and tell you that if they can do that to him they can do that to you.

Open your eyes. This is not about raising the prices of drugs by some moron. This is about the taking of private property by force of government because someone in the government says society needs it. You all will defend someone who robs at the point of a gun, but give a politburo member a pass who robs at the point of a pen. How blind can you be?

Need is not and cannot be standard of value in a free capitalistic society. Need as a justification of a right to take is what Cuba did when it nationalized the country and the private property and businesses. Castro justified the taking of private property and businesses by saying society needed it. Can't you see that is what is occurring in the criticism of this guy? Apparently not.

Anonymous said...

No one is saying he doesn't have the right to charge whatever he wants for this drug he bought, or that the government should be able to take it. You are such a prosecutor, with those silly straw-man arguments. The issue is whether he SHOULD do that. And we have every right to criticize him for his choices.

He chooses to make money in a way that adds no value to society. The social contract we have says that if you build something or make something, you can sell it for whatever you want. But that's not what he did. He bought something that someone else invented 60 years ago so he could charge a lot more for it. I believe that makes him a piece of $#it. I have every right to say that.

By defending him, you are saying that what he did is honorable, and that he shouldn't be criticized. That is ridiculous.

The Professor said...

I think you all miss the point. What he did was draw attention to himself and cause more scrutiny of his business practices. He has not been indicted for anything related to the 5000% increase in a life saving drug, but for running a ponzi scheme to pay back pissed off investors. He allegedly stole money from a publicly traded company to do this.

If you want to make yourself a bully and a villain, then don't be surprised when someone comes along and punches you in the nose.

Anonymous said...

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness marked by unstable moods, behavior, and relationships. In 1980, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Third Edition (DSM-III) listed BPD as a diagnosable illness for the first time. Most psychiatrists and other mental health professionals use the DSM to diagnose mental illnesses.

Because some people with severe BPD have brief psychotic episodes, experts originally thought of this illness as atypical, or borderline, versions of other mental disorders. While mental health experts now generally agree that the name "borderline personality disorder" is misleading, a more accurate term does not exist yet.

Most people who have BPD suffer from:

Problems with regulating emotions and thoughts
Impulsive and reckless behavior
Unstable relationships with other people.
People with this disorder also have high rates of co-occurring disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders, along with self-harm, suicidal behaviors, and completed suicides.

Rumpole said...

If the shoe or diagnosis fits.... Get help.

Anonymous said...

Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes a pattern of unstable intense relationships, distorted self-image, extreme emotions and impulsiveness.

With borderline personality disorder, you have an intense fear of abandonment or instability, and you may have difficulty tolerating being alone. Yet inappropriate anger, impulsiveness and frequent mood swings may push others away, even though you want to have loving and lasting relationships.

Borderline personality disorder usually begins by early adulthood. The condition seems to be worse in young adulthood and may gradually get better with age.

If you have borderline personality disorder, don't get discouraged. Many people with this disorder get better over time with treatment and can learn to live satisfying lives.

Anonymous said...

When Rumpole gets into "Ayn Rand mode," he sounds like the leader of a Maoist cell talking about "unmutual behavior" or, better yet, P.C. Principal on "South Park," lecturing his frat brothers about "safe zones."

Anonymous said...

Your only decent post of the year. Free Shrekli

Borderline girl said...

You are f ING Asshole and I hate your blog.

Great post.

I may be decent looking but I'm Batshit nuts.

Winston R Churchill said...

You were faced with war or dishonor and your chose dishonor.
You might still get war.

Shumie Nation said...

Come one come all to the annual Shumie birthday bash at the REN tonight. Lots of freebies.

Anonymous said...

Kenny and Colby seen at Trulucks last night- hey the ocean called- leave some shrimp for everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Hey R I was at Quality MEats in NYC and had the steak tartare with bone marrow butter. It was amazing. I cannot thank you enough for the recommendation. The slab bacon with peanut butter was a bit unusual but worked. The creamed spinach hush puppies were unusual but good and the baked potato monkey bread was positively 1980's Reaganesque (Reagan and his family brought monkey bread to the white house and national consciousness). I had the Don Ameche steak and my GF the patty melt and at your suggestion a beautiful Zweigelt wine. Thanks Rump. You know your NYC restaurants I will say that.

The Food Guy 305 said...

Rumpole knows nothing. Nothing. If you were going to NYC he should have sent you to Kat and Theo. Ever have a skate wing? How about a long noodle with braised goat neck in goat broth? It's not bacon and peanut butter...its sophisticated food which neither Rumpole nor kenney nor kolnby know about. How about an octopus terrine or a pork cotechino with mirepoix? Keep your dumb burger and meat joint for tourists like you and dumpole- if you really want some sophisticated dining ask me.

fake kenny said...

Youse guys are both no nothing idiots. The conversation begins and ends with Gabriel Kreuthner. But noone of youse can afford to eat there. I'm talking Langoustine tartare, compressed hamachi with foie gras, fennel-cockle veloute, tarte flambee, squab and foie gras croustillant. All foods foreign to your Big-Mac fries and coke ears and vocab.

I love the caviar with a scoop of black tobiko, which lends a briny Pop Rocks kick to fennel, cockle, and raw blue shrimp velouté Рwhich is one of the finest chowders ive ever slurpped. Hows about some mero fish with mussels under the filet's herb crust. The chefs do something with a a cayenne tuile over langoustine tartare, providing a sweet, cookie-like counterpoint to the silky crustaceans. It's heaven in a dining room.

Anonymous said...

Rump spare me the Ayn rand nonsense please

And when the government is the biggest buyer of a drug they should have some say I'm the prices

Anonymous said...

The gang and the government ain't no different.

Anonymous said...

Coookie Gilchrist at the venue??

Anonymous said...

In your dopey randian world why is it ok for Walmart to negotiate huge discounts from its suppliers but it is not OK for the US Government to do the same thing when it buys billions of dollars of drugs?

answer that one mr rump

Rumpole said...

Well I don't and we don't live in a Randian world. nor do I wish to. Rand has a value as a philosopher who placed significant weight in her epistemology of her views.

I don't have a problem with either of your examples. Although I would prefer the government not be in the drug business, my only problem is not when the government "negotiates" but when it forces someone to do something. Eminent domain for example. Anyone could have bought those older drugs, but this guy did. Why should he be persecuted and prosecuted for doing something with what he owns, with what he took the risk for and with what he spent his own money?

Anonymous said...

Rumphole - you did you realize he's not charged with the drug thing?

Anonymous said...

epistemology? have you become one of those law review/law clerk types who populate the Federal Prosecutors office?

Anonymous said...

Epistemology is a Shakesperian word often found in CJ Milton Hirsch's learned opinions.

Anonymous said...

This discussion is fascinating. Most people are more pissed off at him for the non-crime of getting rich off the illnesses of people than for criminally ripping off bondholders. Everybody is kind of right, in some cases it is immoral and inhuman to inflate the profit margins of lifesaving drugs and most people don't get excited about gamblers getting screwed.