Noted sociopath and PharmaDoucheBro Shkreli spent 2015 redefining what it means to be an asshole, upsets GOP presidential frontrunner Trump.
You’ve all known an asshole — a rude, arrogant, contemptuous person. Assholes are irritating. Assholes are the bad breath of personalities. A reasonable person’s reaction to the presence of an asshole is Get the fuck away from me, asshole.
How, then, to select an Asshole of the Year? What is required for one asshole to rise above the rest?
Consider those dickheads whose speech qualify them for asshole designation. Their rude, arrogant, contemptuous utterances hurt others. Yet we can usually escape from the words of an asshole.
Donald Trump, the best and most arrogant bloviator running for president of the United States, is a rude, arrogant, contemptuous (and contemptible) human being. He is an asshole. But it’s virtually impossible to escape what he says. He is the most-covered of all presidential candidates. Consider this Fox News example. Thank you, media, for fostering this. (To be fair, life as a reporter covering Trump is a nightmare.)
So Trump’s everywhere in media. And he’s an asshole. But what separates him from S&R’s Asshole of the Year award recipient is this: Trump’s words hurt, but he has yet to take actions that can cause irreparable harm to people who cannot defend themselves. Were Trump to become president, that would likely change.
The actions of our 2015 Asshole of the Year honoree have done more damage than the words of Donald Trump.
The Asshole of the Year has:
- started a drug company, bought drug rights, and raised the cost of a drug used by some AIDS and cancer patients to treat a life-threatening, parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis by 5,500 percent, from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill.
- had rejected his campaign contribution — for which he sought a private meeting in exchange — to presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. A Sanders spokesman said, “We are not keeping the money from this poster boy for drug company greed.”
- already ignited controversy by gaining control in November of a small drug company, KaloBios, according to The New York Times, then acquiring the rights to an inexpensive drug used for decades to treat Chagas disease in Latin America and planning to charge tens of thousands of dollars for a course of treatment if approved for use in America. (KaloBios filed for bankruptcy this week. No golden goose there …)
- been arrested and charged with securities fraud and wire fraud related to his time “as a hedge fund manager and when he ran his first biopharmaceutical company, Retrophin. Federal officials described his crimes as a quasi-Ponzi scheme in which he used money from his company to pay off money-losing investors in his hedge funds. An F.B.I. official called his business schemes a ‘securities fraud trifecta of lies, deceit and greed.’”
- and, just to be a fucking dickhead, bought Wu-Tang Clan’s Once Upon A Time In Shaolin album — released as a single copy, meaning just one — for $2 million.
The Asshole of the Year is a selfish, mean, greedy, thoughtless bastard for whom the welfare of others means squat.
But none of us should take joy in pointing to our honoree and crying, “What an asshole!”
There’s a lesson in his ascension to Asshole of the Year about the oligarchy that rules America. When our honoree set out to bilk hard-earned money from people desperately trying to stay alive, we were outraged. But hey, we thought, it’s legal. What can we do?
Then our honoree sought to fuck over The One Percent. Faster than you can say dickhead, his ass hit the slammer. Perp walk and all. The principal reason he’s our Asshole of the Year is this: He’s an imperfect asshole in that he failed to understand the limits of what our society will tolerate.
Our Asshole of the Year honoree is the human (barely, in his case) face of deep, divisive inequities in America that (so far) defy remedy. Our American consumerist society builds people like that, and we think it’s funny that amoral sociopaths control 99 percent of America’s property and wealth because it’s a fun Internet game to see how they, and ourselves, compare to Hannibal Lecter. (Fun Facebook quiz: What mendacious billionaire do you most resemble? Ha. Ha.)
Our honoree is an example of the run-amok power of oligarchists. As Robert Reich wrote recently, “He’s a brasher and larger version of what others in finance and corporate suites do all the time.” His undoing was trying to fuck over much bigger, but less obvious, and much richer oligarchists.
Our nominee forces us to consider that example. Why did we tolerate his plundering of the sick for profit? Did we demand change somehow, somewhere, by someone to prevent such an asshole from fucking over those who cannot financially defend themselves? Or did we merely nervously chuckle and think, “There but for the grace of some kinder god go I …” and resume consuming what we can while we can?
The One Percent can easily defend themselves when affronted. Prosecutors take phone calls from The One Percent. Why wouldn’t prosecutors take phone calls from the rest of us?
For what he did to us, and what that has taught us, Scholars & Rogues names Martin Shkreli as our Asshole of the Year.
h/t: Dr. Sam Smith, Dan Ryan