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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
Being callous and showing a lack of sympathy. These disconnects are responsible for the psychopath’s inability to feel emotions deeply.
Psychopaths show a lack of emotion, especially the social emotions, such as shame, guilt and embarrassment. A lack of remorse or shame.
They blame others for events that are actually their fault.
Glibness and superficial charm. Untruthfulness insincerity to outright pathological lying.
Grandiose sense of self-worth.
Pathological egocentricity and incapacity to love.
Inability to plan for the future
Lack of realistic long-term goals
Very low tolerance to frustration and low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.