Papa Frankie is right: Greed is not Good

Published 11:25 am Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Get this, and get it straight — Gordon Gekko was wrong. Greed is not good. Greed is bad. Greed eats away the core of society like a golden parasitic leech the size of Manitoba. Or Saskatchewan. One of those Provinces or territories or protectorates or whatever they use in Canada to keep their license plates distinct.

And practicing and/or defending greed makes you nothing but a blood-sucking tick, no matter how fancy a suit you’re wearing. Or size of the diamonds around your wrist. Or how free-range the organic heirloom Chicken Florentine is on your plate.

The movie “Wall Street” came out in 1987. And after Vietnam and Watergate and an oil embargo and four years of scolding by Jimmy Carter, a little irrational exuberance may have seemed warranted. But that was 30 years ago. Too much is no longer not enough. Too much has gotten way out of hand. Today’s too much is much much too much.

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In his UN address, the Pope said it best. “A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged.” You know what; he’s right. Got to love Papa Frankie. The guy is like a slightly older, more lovable Argentinian Bernie Sanders. With the crank dialed down to a manageable hum.

Let’s be honest, what we’re really talking about here is idiot CEO Martin Shkreli, who raised the price of the life-saving drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 a pill to $750 each, because, and I quote, he “needs to start making a profit.” That’s a 5,455 percent increase, which if produce distributors did to onions would make a side of rings about $3,000.

This rapacious price gouge follows in the carnivorous footsteps of Gilead Sciences, who developed a drug called Solvadi, a cure for Hepatitis C. The treatment regimen consists of 84 pills, each one costing $1,000. That’s right, $80,000. But then you’re cured. And after all, how much is your life worth? Half of what you own? Everything? Your first born?

Gilead Sciences is publicly traded, but Turing Pharmaceuticals has no stockholders to report to. Just Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager, a group known for having the same conscience as starving hyenas in heat. These guys make a safari of lion-killing dentists look cuddly.

Remember the traders who advised clients to buy stocks that they themselves were getting rid of? Them’s our boys. The mindset of a hedge funder is whatever it takes to make the most money: lie, cheat, steal and worse. They rewrote the book on worse.

And now that worse includes letting people die for profit. We’ve moved beyond taxing hedge fund managers at the same rate as real humans and moved into deciding how long the season should be for hedge fund manager hunting. Bows? Shotguns? Anti- tank guided weapons?

What’s to keep these guys from creating diseases for which their companies conveniently have the antidote? Ethics? How often have Republicans lectured us: there is no ethical consideration, only business.

Speaking of ethically challenged, even Donald Trump called the price hike a disgrace and said Shkreli should be ashamed of himself. And when a man who sucks up to bigots and racists calls you shameless, it’s definitely time to rethink your priorities.