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It’s not often that I say, “Thank God the New Yorker cut right through all this leftist cant,” but let’s give them credit where it’s due. On this one, they’re exactly right. Everyone hates Martin Shkreli and everyone’s missing the point:
But was Shkreli’s performance actually more objectionable than that of the legislators who were performing alongside him? Elijah Cummings, of Maryland, is the ranking Democrat on the committee, and he used his allotted time to deliver a scolding. … Cummings acted as if Shkreli were the only thing preventing a broken system from being fixed. “I know you’re smiling, but I’m very serious, sir,” he said. “The way I see it, you can go down in history as the poster boy for greedy drug-company executives, or you can change the system—yeah, you.” Cummings has been in Congress since 1996, and he is a firm believer in the power of government to improve industry through regulation. And yet now he was begging the former C.E.O. of a relatively minor pharmaceutical company to “change the system”? …
The Republican-led committee was no more impressive. As if to establish that Turing was unnecessarily profitable, the committee released documents showing that the company had thrown a lavish party—fireworks included—and given some executives six-figure raises. (If this now counts as corporate behavior worthy of oversight and reform, the committee may soon find its schedule overbooked.) And then there was John Mica, a Republican from Florida, who has vowed to “keep the government out of patients’ sick beds.” Notwithstanding his skepticism of government intervention, he expressed alarm that some drug prices have “skyrocketed.” Even more than his colleagues, he seemed taken aback by the star witness’s recalcitrance, as if he couldn’t fathom why a private citizen wouldn’t be more deferential to his government—at one point, he threatened to move to hold Shkreli in contempt.
The Daraprim saga has as much to do with the Food and Drug Administration as with Shkreli: although the drug’s patent expired in the nineteen-fifties, the F.D.A. certification process for generic drugs is gruelling enough that, for the moment, whoever owns Daraprim has a virtual monopoly in America. (Overseas, it is much cheaper.) [My emphasis] …
Most of our Presidential candidates claim to disdain Washington politicians, but, on Thursday, Shkreli put that disdain into practice—and helped illustrate, to anyone paying attention, why it is so richly deserved.
The New Yorker’s conclusion is, I assume, meant ironically:
He is the American Dream, a rude reminder of the spirit that makes this country great, or at any rate exceptional. Shkreli for President! If voters in New Hampshire are truly intent on sending a message to the Washington establishment they claim to hate, they could—and probably will—do a lot worse.
Nah. You can view Shkreli’s performance as intellectually more consistent, morally more defensible, and less contemptuously disdainful of our intelligence than Congress’s and see Shkreli as a distasteful personality. But on the merits of it, anyone who sees Shkreli as the problem — as opposed to the F.D.A. certification process — is indeed an imbecile. Anyone who blames Shkreli for the high price of this drug instead of blaming those with the power to rein in the FDA and change this situation — to wit, Congress — is indeed an imbecile.
Shkreli scandalized America by saying it was hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government. No, it’s easy to accept that. What’s hard to accept is that these imbeciles do indeed represent the people.