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Why Martin Shkreli is Merely a Product of an Emerging Toxic Culture in The West

Updated on January 30, 2016

A 5000% Increase

Everyone seemed shocked. How could this man, who has so much, just arrogantly raise the price of a much needed pill 5000% (from $13.50 to $750)? Everyone got angry. We had the right to be angry. This wasn’t right. It went against what we believed and we were confused and upset Not even the excuse of capitalism and a free market could excuse this man this time. We saw the act exactly for what it was. Blatant greed. However, this happens all the time. We just don't see it. At the beginning of this year Pfizer increased the price of almost 100 drugs. You just didn't hear about it. Hidden behind closed doors this is happening more than you could imagine and it poses a question is the massive disjunct between our egalitarian values and the values Capitalism promotes close-able? Capitalism favours money, not people and this is the culture we live in. This is the culture we have chosen. We need to realise that Capitalism, as a system, favours profit above all else. Capitalism does not promote harmonious living between unique, creative individuals. Capitalism works for money and money alone. This is what we saw through Martin Shkreli. He didn't expose a selfish man, but rather he exposed to us, through a crack, the fact that this system that we live by has a high capability for selfishness. So how can we expect Capitalism to hold or promote values such as selflessness, kindness and love? We can't unless we adapt.

Martin Shkreli Arrested

Our Anger is Misdirected

I want you to think, for a moment, about our world. 795 million people. 1.3 billion tonnes of food is discarded each year. Think about that. There is massive instability in the Middle East, happening right now, due partly to the numerous wars the West waged within. The American invasion of Iraq (evident from declassified Foreign Office files) was revealed to be merely a ploy to stabilise global energy supplies by ensuring the uninhibited flow of Iraqi oil. This was done for profit. My point here is that there is inherent cruelty with a devotion to hedonic capitalism. One must ask themselves, as members of this society, whether Martin Shkreli is really the man to blame. Or maybe, just maybe, we're attacking a single leaf and expecting the entire plant to die. If we want to see this sort of behaviour absolved, completely, then we really only have one option. We have to change.

Did you know many other drug companies were raising prices?

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Let's Address The Whole Problem

At the moment our society functions more or less in this way. You get a job to earn money and you earn money to live. That’s the deal. That’s what you’re trading off, hours for currency. That’s why you spend so much time working, in order to live. But what if we've forgotten the second part. Many of us use our hours to buy the latest television, console or pair of shoes. We’re stuck in a feedback loop because the desire for new things never ends. So we work more to earn more to buy more. That’s fine. That’s a completely valid way to live your life but some of you may be like me. For those of us, work stops becoming the thing to do, but the minimum requirement in order to live properly and to do the things you enjoy. Maybe if we stopped throwing out all that food and instead gave it to the needy. Maybe if we stopped spending billions each year on defence and instead spent on education. Maybe if we economised this system to have the least waste possible we’d have a lot less of us starving, a lot shorter work days and a lot happier, harmonious society. Maybe I'm naive, maybe I'm not, that's up to you. In the 1920s they expected our technology would be so advanced that we’d only have to work a few hours a day. Our technology is advanced, and we should be working less, but what we’ve made in efficiency, unfortunately we’ve lost in overconsumption.

Prediction of 2000 in 1899.

Where Does the Problem Actually Lie?

So, I want you to ask yourself, if overconsumption wasn’t encouraged or popularized then would have Martin Shkreli raised the price of a pill 5000%. If within our society one's goodwill within the community dictated their status rather than their wealth and material items would he have have done it? Finally, if we promoted a culture of selflessness, wherein the actions of someone like Martin were frowned upon and called out all the time, would he still have raised the price? I believe people are beginning to see these problems, see the cultural shift that is happening. We’re up against something entrenched into our culture though, at the highest of levels, and we need to realise this. People like Martin aren’t the cause, they’re a symptom. If we really want to solve something, we have to go to the roots. It won’t be easy but I believe, once people start seeing the futility of capitalism, that we, as a race, will be able to become something more.

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    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      Shkreli is an example of what happens when the stockholder reigns supreme at the expense of the worker and the consumer. Shkreli got rich exploiting products he cannot produce. He is a perfect example of the kind of sanctioned corporate thief that runs the economy.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 19 months ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Shkreli was simply the most extreme and most candid case of the drug companies jacking up prices to maximize their profits. Excellent Hub, Noel. it's all greed in this and many other businesses.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 20 months ago from Texas

      Hi Noel, welcome to HP, I wish you much success here.

      I completely understand what you are saying here.

      Have a blessed day.