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Martin Shkreli Is an American Hero

Martin Shkreli Is an American Hero

martin shkreli

The pharma CEO, now hit with securities fraud charges, is a potent symbol of corporate greed. Now we need to learn from Shkreli's bad example and reform his industry, writes Kit Williamson.

Christmas came early this year, when Turing Phamaceuticals CEO and noted scumbag Martin Shkreli was hauled off in handcuffs after being arrested on charges of securities fraud. Although he is (hopefully) heading to jail for a very long time, his legacy lives on; every article about his incarceration provides a helpful primer on his drug price-gouging, providing invaluable exposure for the lack of regulation of the pharmaceutical industry. He may not be the hero we need, but he's the hero we deserve.

One of my favorite conspiracy theories of the moment is that Donald Trump is actually running a false flag campaign to support the Clintons. As conservative writer Allen Ginzburg commented on Twitter back in July, "If Trump had an agreement with Hillary to ensure her win by embarrassing R's & then running as an indie, what would he be doing differently?"

Playing along with this conceit, Trump has masterfully exposed the racism in the Tea Party that had previously only simmered under the surface of biased policies, redistricting, and voter ID laws. There is now no denying that the Republican base is made up of racist extremists who support barring all Muslims from entering the country, and Trump has placed them under the harsh spotlight that they deserve. The nation is understandably disgusted. It's like pulling up a board from the floor and discovering millions of termites eating away at your house. There can no longer be any denying that we need to call an exterminator.

Similarly, Martin Shkreli couldn't be a better representative for pharmaceutical industry greed if he ran around personally unhooking sick children from life support. Not only did he increase the cost of the lifesaving medication Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill, he blatantly lied about walking back the price gouging and had the gall to respond to criticism from politicians, including Hillary Clinton, with a flippant "lol" on twitter. Most recently he attempted to stratospherically increase the price of an affordable Chagas medication and flaunted his wealth in the face of the patients he is driving into poverty by spending $2 million on a Wu-Tang Clan album.

Thankfully, there may be some justice coming his way, as he was arrested this week for securities fraud. While he awaits trial, I'd like to take a moment to thank Martin Shkreli for shining a light on the greed and corruption that drives our healthcare system. Most importantly, I want to thank Shkreli for making people aware of the fact that he was not arrested for gouging the cost of lifesaving drugs. It cannot be stressed enough that his contemptible, corrupt acts as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals were completely legal and within his rights as the head of a corporation.

Whether you have HIV, Chagas, hepatitis C, or cancer, no one should be made financially destitute because they get sick -- our country was founded on the idea that we all have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When you are asking people to choose between life and financial ruin, you taking away their freedom. There is no choice to be made -- you must simply accept destitution and live the rest of your days in poverty. That's not the country I want to live in.

This country is broken in many ways, and it seems like our politicians have given up on containing the spread of abuse in the health care industry. It took Shkreli's cartoonish greed and disregard for human life to get the nation talking about the cost of drugs, and with this little rat behind bars, it's now up to us to make sure this problem stays on the radar until we find a solution.

KWKIT WILLIAMSON is an actor, filmmaker, and activist living in New York City. He best known for playing the role of Ed Gifford on Mad Men and creating the LGBT series EastSiders, which recently premiered its second season exclusively on Vimeo On Demand.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Kit Williamson