Martin Shkreli and the Case for Corporate Psychopathy

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psychopath  

noun

A person with a psychopathic personality, which manifest as amoral antisocial behaviour, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc.
 

When Martin Shkreli bought out  lifesaving pharmaceutical, Daraprimand,  and raised the price by 5,000%  from $13.50 a tablet to $750.  Overnight he became the new poster boy for Corporate Greed.

“I think profits are a great thing,” said Shkreli with a lighthearted smile.  Shrkreli says that larger companies do this and worse all the time.

Described as the “most hated man on the internet” he ignited FaceBook and Twitter into a paroxysm of outrage with labels like Scum, Filth, Asshole, Jerk and much more and much worse. On Australia’s SBS-2, The Feed, viewers overwhelmingly voted Shrkeli “Douche of the Week”.   The Feed’s anchor, Mark Fennell, commented that he had never seen such a tweet in vote landslide so heavily towards one person.  I suppose few are shocked by the news that Mr Shrkeli is currently under investigation for insider trading and fraud.

But Martin Shkreli was right about one thing, bigger companies do  this sort of thing and worse all the time.  It doesn’t excuse Shrkeli for being a selfish contemptuous ass…but he does have a point.

Consider this:

The Tobacco Industry: In denial about smoking being carcinogenic  and a major cause of heart disease and lung disease. They also deny smoking is extremely addictive.  The industry advertises heavily  throughout Asia where there are fewer regulations and restrictions on advertising and smoking rates in the young are very high.  Recently the industry tried to access Australian government information under freedom of information to gain access to research on teenagers for what many suspects may be for marketing purposes.  For years the industry ran campaigns of misinformation to obfuscate the health risks from smoking.  How many deaths on their hands?

The Sugar Industry:  Sugar is increasingly finding its way into more and more processed foods and soft drinks.  Medical research has firmly established sugar as the main source of obesity, diabetes and other health related problems.  How many deaths on their  hands?

Fossil Fuel Industry:  Still in denial on climate change and still lobbying politicians not to act on Climate Action.  The industry continues its campaigns of misinformation to obfuscate the issue.  In spite of dire warnings from 97% of scientists about the health of our planet and the threat to humanity, the industry continues to sow doubt in the community and lobby politicians to resist Climate Action.  The death of the planet?

These are just a few.  I’m sure others come to mind from chemical companies, agribusiness, genetically modified foods to the dangerous working environments and sweatshop conditions of Asia.

One couldn’t be blamed for thinking that in the Corporate World there is no moral compass, no truth, no empathy, no compassion…there are only profits.

In Forbes Magazine, British Journalist and author of  The Psychopath Test:  A Journey Through the Madness of Industry, Jon Ronson says, “Psychopathy among CEOs is about 4%, four times what is in the population at large.”

“There are absolutes in psychopathy and the main absolute is a literal absence of empathy. It’s just not there. In higher-scoring psychopaths, what grows in the vacant field where that empathy should be is a joy in manipulating people, a lack of remorse, a lack of guilt.”

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Former American Vice President, Dick Cheney was also a former CEO for Halliburton.  Halliburton received lucrative government contracts when the Bush-Cheney Administration invaded Iraq.  According to The International Business Times, Halliburton made $39. 5 billion from the Iraqi War.  Cheney still maintains that the invasion was the right thing in spite of the fact Weapons of Mass Destruction were never found and the Middle East is a basket case of instability.  Way to go Dick.

Potential Republican presidential candidate former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's forum in Waukee, Iowa, April 25, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

 When GOP Presidential Hopeful, Carly Fiorina,  got the head job at Hewlett Packer she received a larger signing offer than any of her predecessors, including: US$65 million in restricted stock to compensate her for the Lucent stock and options she left behind, a US$3 million signing bonus, a US$1 million annual salary (plus a US$1.25–US$3.75 million annual bonus), US$36,000 in mortgage assistance, a relocation allowance, and access to company planes for personal affairs.    During her tenure she sent 30,000 Hewlett Packer employees home without a job. On February 9, 2005, the HP board of directors forced Fiorina to resign as chief executive officer and chair due to declining stock value, disappointing earning reports, disagreements about the company’s performance, and her resistance to transferring authority to division heads. She received a $21 million golden handshake when she was removed as CEO. On the campaign trail this year, Carly Fiorina has been a staunch advocate of keeping crippling sanctions on Iran, but under her leadership, Hewlett-Packard sold hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of products to Iran through a foreign subsidiary, despite strict U.S. export sanctions.

But it’s not just Carly Fiorina and Dick Cheney.  This kind of outrageous overpayment and corporate self-serving skulduggery seems commonplace in the USA as the disparity between rich and poor grows greater and greater.   In 2009, it was estimated that CEOs of major U.S. corporations averaged 263 times the average compensation of American workers.  Nice work if you can get it and have the moral lassitude to stomach it.

So well might we ask, what’s fucking wrong with these people?  And well should we ask, what’s fucking wrong with the system?

Seriously does the Murdoch Media really concern itself with journalistic ethics and morals? Phone hacking, political partisanship,  sensationalism, exploitation, blatant propaganda and bias in reporting say no.  Is there a reason that Rupert Murdoch so hates National Networks like the BBC in Britain and the ABC in Australia?  Yes, because as we would expect, they don’t concern themselves with profits but with content and veracity in reporting.  And the Murdoch Media is not alone, Most Corporate owned and controlled media are guilty of the same shoddy reporting and misinformation.  Is it any wonder that, according to a Washington Post poll, nearly seven in 10 Americans believed it was likely that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9-11 attacks.

Haruka-Nishimatsu

Are all Corporate CEOs self-serving spivs living like fat cats while the rest of their country languishes in rising levels of poverty?  Japanese Airlines CEO, Haruka Nishimatsu, is a stellar example of moral rectitude, good management and compassion.  He actually took a reduction in pay at one stage so that he wouldn’t have to lay off staff.   No hand tailored Armani suits for Nishimatsu.  He wears inexpensive clothing that his employees can also afford.  He takes the bus to work and when he flies he doesn’t take a private company jet but flies with the JAL fleet.

Comparing Haruka Nishimatsu to many US Corporate CEOs would be like comparing the Pope to Pat Robertson or Mike Huckabee.

And when the US went to war in Iraq whose interests were they really representing?  It’s not just an issue of how many US servicemen and servicewomen died in the conflict but how many innocent Iraqi families were killed as well and how much chaos, disruption, suffering, instability and homelessness has occurred in the aftermath.  Hundreds of thousands suffered and a few made a whole shitload of money.  And that returns us to the problem of our system and what drives it.
 Are our Corporate leaders psychopaths or is it simply that the makeup of our poorly regulated corporate system creates monsters without empathy, compassion or a moral compass?  And if, as the US Supreme Court decrees, that Corporations are people…then maybe those people are psychopaths.  I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist,  but it seems to me that the symptoms of psychopathy written by psychiatrist and psychologists pretty much describe corporate behaviour.
And while not every Psychopath is a serial killer, in fact it would seem that very few are serial killers, they do possess an inability to actually give a shit about what happens to others or empathise with their pain.  Psychopathy is a mental condition.    So it should be attended to and medicated.  How do we medicate Corporate Greed?
We fucking regulate it.

A Precis of  7 Psychopathic Characteristics

Uncaring

Being callous and showing a lack of sympathy.   These disconnects are responsible for the psychopath’s inability to feel emotions deeply.

Shallow Emotions

Psychopaths show a lack of emotion, especially the social emotions, such as shame, guilt and embarrassment. A lack of remorse or shame.

Irresponsibility

They blame others for events that are actually their fault.

Insincere speech

Glibness and superficial charm. Untruthfulness insincerity to outright pathological lying.

Overconfidence

Grandiose sense of self-worth.

Selfishness

Pathological egocentricity and incapacity to love.

Inability to plan for the future

Lack of realistic long-term goals

Violence

Very low tolerance to frustration and low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-09-14/under-fiorina-hp-earned-millions-from-sales-in-iran

 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mindmelding/201301/what-is-psychopath-0

An Unsolicited but Very Open Letter to Wally (Dr Walter Palmer) the Lion Killer

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Dear Wally,

You have no idea how long I’ve worked on this. At first I spent most of my time venting my anger and hurling abuse. The words just kept mounting up.

Hell, I even drew a cartoon with your head and arse mounted on a wall. I’m not an artist. When I finished with the pencil…I went over the lines in ink…still not satisfied, I coloured them in and added flowers for Cecil.

You don’t get flowers arsehole.

Oooops.  Sorry.

Then I wrote a long rambling tirade.

It was cathartic for me, but I’m sure it would have become tiresome for the reader, not that I have a bevy of readers.

But too much of anything can become toxic or at least boring.  Even though hurling such abuse did feel good,  Sort of like kicking an object when you’re really pissed off, it doesn’t help much but it feels good,

And there is a use by date. After all, the anger and dismay and horror from the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre has already waned. How many remember the mass shooting at the Aurora Theatre in Colorado? How many innocent black folk will be killed by police before we act?  Or do we just become inured and bored and accept it as the done thing?  Like my anger with you Wally, how long will it take for us to shove the atrocity of Dylan Roof’s massacre of nine  African Americans while they worshipped in their church under the carpet and tune into the banal aimless empty headed drama of make believe reality television tripe?

To be honest, there is far more rage at your actions than those of Dylan Roof or James Holmes or even Adam Lanza.   I mean these guys were just sick arsed wimps that never should have come within a country mile of owning a firearm.

You’re different.  In the eyes of many you are successful, you’re wealthy, you have successful business, you fucking vote Republican and donated handsomely to Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

Lions.  King of the Beast.  Honestly Wally, what a chickenshit cowardly dickhead thing to do.

There are billions of us…and only a few thousand of them. We have taken over the planet. We have dominated everything…we have destroyed wildlife habitat…and we value nothing unless it can return a profit. We’ve lost our ability to appreciate the beauty of things simply for the beauty of things…we have to apply a price tag to everything or, in your case, kill it and mount it’s head on your fucking wall.

You paid all that money to kill something noble, beautiful and natural. Why didn’t you donate it to house the homeless?  Set up an animal rescue?  Educate a poor kid? Help stop global warming?  Why?

Why?  Because you’re an arsehole that’s why.

And according to your guide you were not only not satisfied with killing Cecil…you had an elephant on your shopping list as well. And we already know you’ve killed a rhino because you had your picture taken with its corpse.

Not that your guide had any room to judge, he was an arsehole too.

Trophy Hunting. Seriously? Some sort of barbaric left over from the age of English Imperialism. And come on Wally…you didn’t even get that right. Those guys went on proper safaris…you know actually hunted on foot…and spent weeks in the bush doing it rough. You flew into the Dark Continent…were picked up at the airport…they tied a carcass to the back of a four-wheel drive and lured Cecil from the reserve. Then in the middle of the night… while you sat in the comfort and safety of a blind, your paid lackeys  blinded  poor Cecil with  a spotlight so you could take your shot.

You even fucked that up…wounding him and letting him suffer for forty hours before finding him the following day and putting him out of his misery. Then the final humiliation…cutting off his head…leaving his carcass to rot in the sun.

Man against nature my arse.  You’re not The Old Man and the Sea.  You’re not Ernest Hemmingway.  You’re not Shackleton or Jedidiah Smith or Hugh Glass.  Do you really think you are some kind of great white hunter?  What kind of pindick fantasy is that? I mean Jesus you and that Shitforbrains Ted Nugent should do some bonding. You mindless fucks would get along.

See. As hard as I try I can’t help but be pissed off and burst into a tirade.

You and Dylan and John and Adam have some things in common. You guys come off as rather wan and wimpy and scared.  Here, I put in some outdated man porn for you. It may help you with your erectile dysfunction.

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Ooooh….monster weasels!

Probably for the first time in your life…you got recognition. Global recognition. Unfortunately, it’s also global condemnation.

I’m not one of those calling for your blood.

I don’t want you to do anything more stupid or self-indulgent than you’ve already done. I mean, no suicide Wally. I don’t want the likes of Wayne la Pierre or Ted Nugent using you as a model of martyrdom for the gun lobby or Trophy Hunters.

Jedidiah Smith…Hugh Glass…Jim Bridger.  You aren’t those guys.  You’re a dentist who sexually harassed your receptionist until she finally put a stop to it.  You were too vain and up yourself to read her messages that she didn’t appreciate your advances.  And that cost 120,000 bucks.  Not enough in my book…but hey you could have had two more safaris for that and killed some other natural things.

You fucked up Wally…and you’ve been fucking up for a long time and it seems to me you haven’t learned a goddamned thing.

You went underground. Tried to hire a publicity firm and even they rejected you.  Now that’s saying something.   And when you finally return to work you have the unmitigated audacity to question the humanity of others.

I mean seriously?  You’re the victim and they’re the bad guys?  You question their humanity?  You’re the guy who went to another country, lured a magnificent animal from a wildlife refuge and killed it.

You’d think after spending all that money you would have spent some time studying the character and behaviour of the animal you intended on killing. In The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago battles the great fish and in the end no one really wins, not Santiago, not the fish, not the sharks that attack the fish.  But Santiago exhausted climbs the hill back to his shack and dreams of lions.  He has learned something.  He has gone through a metaphysical experience, a spiritual journey.

in Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner the mariner commits a senseless act, an act of random violence.  For no apparent reason, he kills the albatross.

And he’s punished for it.  His fellow crew members who condone the act also suffer.  Only the mariner survives and he must travel the world, tell his story and speak his message to all he encounters:

He prayeth best, who loveth best

All things both great and small;

For the dear God who loveth us,

He made and loveth all.

This is the voice of humanity Wally.  Humanity is the voice that brings us reason, compassion and a sense of place in the world and society.  We make mistakes.  We accept that and own it. We learn. We try and do better.

We don’t blame others for our fuck ups.

It seems to me Wally that you have yet to do that.

Little Wattlebirds

The Little Wattlebirds nest in a wicker basket lantern that hangs under our veranda roof.  They have been doing so for years.

The basket hangs in a heavy traffic area just outside our kitchen door.  We watch them from our table outside on the veranda.  For most of the year our weather is mild.  We we spend a lot of time there and it’s where we eat most of our meals.   The wattlebirds are not far away and the parents don’t get alarmed unless we walk directly under the nest when they are feeding.  Sometimes in the evening when it’s nice and still we sit at the table, watch a starlit sky silhouette the towering trees behind the house, chat and have a drink while the mother bird roost on the nest and goes to sleep.

It doesn’t get more peaceful and pleasant than that.

Wattlebirds are not songsters.  Their normal call sounds like a rusty gate hinge buffeted in the wind.  But when they arrive for nesting the two mates speak to one another in soft gentle chirps and tweets that sound sweet and endearing.

They fly in and inspect the real estate,  calling out to one another.  If all is good, they begin renovations. Take out a twig. Add a twig. Throw in some soft fluffy stuff.  Move things around a bit. When that’s done, they lay their egg or eggs and the mother bird sits the nest.

The young hatch.  Stick up their little fuzzy heads on thin reedy necks, mouths wide open and the parents swoop into to feed them.

They are dedicated doting parents, both parents  feeding their hatchlings.  In the video you see one feeding and flying away to be immediately replaced by the mate.

It’s never without drama.  We grow attached to them and it’s a warm and wonderful thing to watch them progress daily.  So when danger comes we are concerned.  Some birds raid nests, eat eggs and young chicks.  Because their nest is under the veranda roof and close to the house, predators tend to avoid it.  Still there are butcher birds, magpies, currawongs,crows and kookaburras to watch out for.  The parents forage continually for food but they’re never far away.  They are honeyeaters and there are plenty of native flowering shrubs nearby and in our backyard to sustain them.

The chicks are almost ready to leave the nest. They’ve progressed rapidly.  They will leave the nest and roost in a nearby tree or shrub, calling to their parents who sweep in and feed them.  One day soon they will fly away.

     *     *     *

 We had a visitor and our dog, Shadow, went off in vollies of barks, running to and fro along the veranda exuberant, excited and noisy.  Mayhem ensued.   One of the chicks panicked and fell out of the nest.  Julie gently swooped it up in a soft cap and placed it back in the nest.  So all was well.

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     *     *     *

No surprises.  Today one of the chicks has left the nest.  The one that reached higher when the parents came into feed.  I’m sure it’s the one that fell from the nest the other day. It had been standing up right and stretching its wings for few days. We can hear it calling plaintively.  The parents attention is now divided between the bird in the bush and bird in the nest.

One chick is left and it’s getting anxious. We watch and wait for a few days.  Mum comes in at night and sits the nest.  Baby bird is curious but we’re not certain it’s going to join the sibling just yet.  Parents gently coax and cajole from the sidelines…

So it’s gone.  The parents are still hanging around in the backyard but the babies are not to be seen.  We suspect they are hiding in the thick cover of the golden canes.  This morning two butcher birds swooped into the backyard chasing one of the babies in under the veranda and into the kitchen window with a loud bang.  Baby flew off into the shrubs and eventually the butcher birds left.