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Martin Shkreli steers his company from prison with contraband cellphone (wsj.com)
102 points by glassworm 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 118 comments





I'm left wondering: is this actually illegal?

If Shkreli wasn't in prison, then he would be a normal "activist investor" who has the ownership (power) to dictate corporate strategy at the highest levels. Whether he's the chief executive or not is kind of a moot point—that's just a title.

If I recall correctly, a securities-related conviction would prevent him from being a director of a publicly-traded company. But Phoenixus AG (née Turing) isn't public, so I don't think there's SEC limitations here.

That other shareholders want him removed from power is a preference and disagreement, nothing more.

Was there anything else in his sentencing that would preclude him from these kinds of activities? Or is this more a, huh, that's interesting message?

Reading the article, it seems like the rules he's breaking are:

1. Having a cell phone in prison.

2. "Running a business", in potential violation of the prison inmate handbook. I'm unclear if there are any legal teeth behind said handbook, or what.

The article also says that the FBI "has interviewed associates about his role" at Phoenixus, but not why they're doing that.


>"Running a Business"

The WSJ either intentionally, or unintentionally, is subtly trying to cast this narrative that he is a mafia-boss who is still running is illegal mafia-crew from behind bars. They are doing that simply because it sells papers, I would assume.

If you take away the "business" aspect of it, and just think of it of an asset. Say for instance an inmate owns a house; is it somehow worrisome to imagine a they would want to check up on their asset and make decisions to improve it? Obviously not.

This is just the click-bait style material that "modern journalism" have been reduced to.


> If you take away the "business" aspect of it, and just think of it of an asset. Say for instance an inmate owns a house; is it somehow worrisome to imagine a they would want to check up on their asset and make decisions to improve it? Obviously not.

“conducting or directing an investment transaction without staff authorization” is a violation of the Inmate Discipline Program of equal severity to running a business, in fact, it has the same offense code.

(Though not as bad as circumventing BOP phone monitoring, which in turn is not as severe as merely possessing a cell phone, so, yeah, running the business is the least of the offenses.)


If it's known that he has a cell phone, and it's against the rules to have one in prison, I'm left wondering how hard it could possibly be for the prison authorities to take it away from him. Or is there simply no effort to enforce the rules?

If he has it, most likely he paid off an authority figure there, which would be the only thing preventing a supposed confiscation.

Any time I read a story on prison, I seem to almost always end up hearing about contraband. Even guys in solitary confinement with long-term heroin addiction. In solitary confinement. Authorities never are held responsible for this. Prison needs major reform.(1)

1- https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/special-reports/artic...


Or he might've "persuaded" the guards to let him keep having the cell phone sort of like how he paid off the poker debts of some of the inmates.

> "Running a business", in potential violation of the prison inmate handbook. I'm unclear if there are any legal teeth behind said handbook, or what.

The handbook per se is just an informational guide, but it summarizes applicable law and BOP policy (which has force of law within BOP’s statutory role of regulating federal prisons.)

The relevant policy is the “Inmate Discipline Program” [0], under which possessing a mobile communication device is a “Greatest” severity offense (the same as killing or escape), using a phone (even a prison phone) in a manner which circumvents required BOP monitoring is a “High” severity offense, running a business is a “Moderate” severity offense.

[0] https://www.bop.gov/policy/progstat/5270_009.pdf


Great link, thank you!

Note also the sanctions starting on page 12. Worth noting that there appear to be zero repercussions outside of prison. Absolute worst case, Shkreli would lose "good behavior" time or get a parole date pushed back. Otherwise, we're talking about things like "loss of privileges".


Sure, BOP inmate discipline rules, while they have legal force, are not crimes (though a lot of the behavior they cover is also criminal, but quite often criminal prosecution will not be pursued.)

The FBI involvement, however, indicates that there at least some indications of something more than pure inmate discipline issues that not only theoretically applies, but may actually be pursued.


That's what I want to know about! They drop this little tidbit about the FBI, then move on to what he ate for breakfast. They're suggesting there's something significant here, but aren't telling me what it is.

> They're suggesting there's something significant here, but aren't telling me what it is.

Yeah,and they won't, because until and unless the DoJ indicts, they aren't likely to tell anyone what the FBI specifically was concerned about.

(Though the indication of attempts to intimidate people involved in business transactions Shkreli opposed seem the most obvious thing for the FBI to look into.)


Well, that sounds pretty clear. So why is this allowed to go on (not just in Shkreli's case, of course, but more generally)? It seems like the two possible explanations are either gross incompetence or rampant corruption - take your pick.

It goes on for the same reasons our bosses don't oppose people paying games on mobiles, going out for occasional beer during lunch or listening to music while on work.

While strictly speaking none of this should happen. Nobody minds because the overall nature of relationship is basically a kind of symbiosis, and throwing the rule book at every breath is neither possible nor feasible, and if done the interpersonal conflicts that come from it are far more trouble than the small pains from the act itself.

The prison guards have nothing to gain from this, especially while dealing with a billionaire doing a totally harmless activity. On the other hand playing nice, keeps the system going forward in the direction they want.

It's always better to control people through diplomacy than by force. It applies in all walks of life.


Did you consider the possibility that not all prison guards are awful human beings who'd like to punish inmates for wanting to communicate with people outside?

You don't need to be incompetent or corrupt to be okay with this, you just need to be human.


I think the WSJ and Shkreli both have things to gain from over-sensationalizing the story, I think your comment is spot on.

depends upon the bluesky laws of the state in which its incorporated some do have restrictions

He's got an entourage that looks out for him, runs his company from a contraband phone that he also posts on twitter from, lifts weights to keep from getting too scrawny, pays off inmate's poker debts, takes care of cats, helps inmates out with their grammar... This really sounds like something out of a movie.

movies come out of life

without the paywall https://outline.com/9jcNDW

I always really liked Martin Shkreli. He kind of reminds me of myself (maybe that says more about me than Martin Shkreli). Maybe he ran a fraud, but he did good by his investors, they got huge return off of his "scam." Of people who are in jail for scams, almost all of them stole/lost money from their investors, instead of actually making a shit-load of money for them.

People don't like him not because of his "scam", but because he raised drug prices. Maybe people on HN and elsewhere think big pharma should be run as a charity, but in my book, making as much money as you can is a good thing, a noble and morally righteous thing in fact.

Companies should try and make as much money as humanly possible (without breaking the law), because this is the only framework in which competition can exist. Everyone, everywhere, should be as greedy as possible and try as make a big of return on their investments as possible. This is the origin of "competition."

If individuals and companies weren't doing that, our market wouldn't function and it wouldn't delivery nearly as value as it does to society.

I happily look forward to the downvotes.


> Maybe he ran a fraud

> making as much money as you can is a good thing, a noble and morally righteous thing in fact.

I don't see how you can claim that what he did was morally righteous, but also possibly fraudulent.

> Companies should try and make as much money as humanly possible (without breaking the law)

The parenthetical here is hilarious, because it immediately contradicts your argument. Companies should try to make as much money as possible, until we decide that what they do should be illegal, in which case companies should not try to make as much money as possible. Isn't this always the case? Assuming we have a perfect system, companies should try to make as much money as possible within that system. Shkreli went to jail because he broke the law, therefore according to your own argument you shouldn't be admiring him.


> I don't see how you can claim that what he did was morally righteous, but also possibly fraudulent.

Shrikeli did two things; (1) legally raise the prices of some drugs and (2) defraud his investors.

mruts is admiring (1) while condemning (2).


When Shkreli got vilified, he missed out on one of the biggest opportunities to push for meaningful change. Media and Congress were "not kind" to his price increases. Well, who passed the laws that allowed for those price increases and stifled competition? At the time, I was hoping Shkreli would double down, go all in, and blame Congress for passing the laws that were allowing for such price increases and preventing competition (which big pharma had lobbied for and gotten passed earlier). Demand that if Congress was serious about getting him to reduce prices, all they had to do was repeal those laws. I.e., pass the buck back and say "well if you don't like this behavior, then why did you pass these laws?" and "oh, by the way, how many campaign contributions and PAC donations did you get for passing these laws?" He could then pivot to say "hey, I'm not raising prices to make money [at least not anymore], I'm raising prices to increase awareness and bring accountability to Congress and hold their feet to the fire."

> blame Congress for passing the laws that were allowing for such price increases and preventing competition

That would be weird, since Daraprim (the drug he hiked) was out of patent, anyone could make and sell it, and in fact a competitor did jut a couple of months later[1]. How was Congress preventing competition?

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2015/11/30/express-scripts-imprimis-to-...


Patents weren't the issue. As I recall, Shkreli's company had the exclusive right to market the drug in the US, regardless of patent protection. For example, the FDA provides regulatory exclusivity that prevents generics from entering the market even after the patent expires. [1]

Patents were a collateral issue. On that collateral issue, one of the issues with patents is that drug companies have a tendency to stop producing drugs towards the end of life of a patent to force patients onto a newly patented drug. This practice could be stopped by allowing generics to produce, market, and sell when the patent holder will not.

[1] https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/journal-articl...


Fair enough, there are other protections besides patents. Still, that doesn't seem to be the case here at all; like I wrote, competitors were selling alternatives within a couple of months.

What seems to me is that the market was crowded out while the primary producer kept the prices low; when they were raised, the market responded.


He would he a moron to say anything about pricing after his fraud case kicked off. All it would do is dig him into a deeper hole.

The prosecutor picked the fight because they knew he was viewed as such an asshole that there was no way anyone would think any differently of him. It's the reason he's in jail for seven years despite making profits for those he defrauded (remember that sentencing in these cases is often dependent on damages) and Elizabeth Holmes isn't.

Good PR juju goes a long way: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mariappan-jawaharlal/tale-...


>I happily look forward to the downvotes.

Painting yourself as the underdog before receiving any feedback undermines your communication. Even worse, the "your inevitable and surely unreasonable disagreement makes me happy" style of sign-off is just putting forth the image of being an asshole for basically no reason other than emotional self-defense.


If the results of competition and everyone trying to make the maximum amount of money are that people die young and impoverished while a small number of people become obscenely wealthy- I can think of no better definition of pure, revolting evil, and those responsible will certainly face justice at the hands of the state, or, if they capture the state, justice later at the hands of angry mobs.

By the way what school of ethics is that from, the stance that you should enrich yourself at the cost of death and misery to everyone around you?

I very much wonder if you will feel this way when the day comes (and it will) when your wealth fails you. Will you maintain you belief in free markets when you, or someone you loves, is ill and can't be helped for the lack of money?

You incitement of downvotes is clear enough indicator of your bad faith.


> (without breaking the law)

This part seems a little more relevant to this story than a parenthetical aside.


You have no idea what it’s like to be powerless and have people like you dictating terms and ruining lives and there being nothing you can do about. You have no idea what that feels like.

On the other hand: the company was charging $13/pill for a long time. Shkreli hikes it immensely, and only two months later a competitor starts selling it for $1/pill: https://www.cnbc.com/2015/11/30/express-scripts-imprimis-to-...

Arguably, Shkreli's actions incentivized competition (like the parent poster talked about), and at the cost of only two months of unaffordable prices, patients were left much better off.

Personally I still find his action abhorrent, but the facts do have some weight.


> I happily look forward to the downvotes

Not from me: your opinion stands out from the general HN hypocrisy, on top of being very consistent.


[flagged]


You can't post like this, no matter how wrong another comment is. This is a bannable offense, but your comment is so over the top that I'm going to assume you went on tilt (it happens to all of us) and not ban you this time. Please don't do it again though.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I apologize and will take a break from posting for a little while.

> can’t afford antibiotics

Well, Shkreli's company was providing the drug in question for free to those who could not afford it, so your rage seems a bit unsubstantiated.


You're breaking the rules here as well as being incredibly rude.

Yes i am, and I’d do it again. He should know that acting in the manner he suggests is no game, and the people are watching. I want him to feel that anger and know that what he’s doing is not ok.

What is he doing? I'm pretty sure mruts doesn't own a pharmaceutical company.

By the way something can be hideously immoral without being illegal. The holocaust was legal.

I did really like his lectures on youtube on investing. One can learn a lot about dissecting a company's fundamentals from them. I wish he had not done all that stupid shit. I am not sure if he thinks he ever needed to anyways..

He still updates his blog multiple times a week.

http://martinshkreli.com/


Free Shkreli

Not new. Most drug lords from around here do the same.

Snitching on any inmate like this is a terrible thing to do.

Nobody deserves the kind of attention this will attract from BOP.


> [..] when Turing raised the cost of an HIV drug to $750 per pill from $13.50.

It wasn't an HIV drug. Pyrimethamine is mainly used to treat toxoplasmosis. Granted a huge target group would be HIV patients but right here that's just spinning a narrative. Shkreli might be a questionable character but that doesn't warrant publishing fake news.


Shkreli's real crime: small fish with a big mouth. If Shkreli was a CEO of a $50 Billion company he'd be holding fundraisers for Trump or his opponents. And the Feds would not dare arrest him for his defense would overwhelm the feds.

(No doubt he did illegal stuff, but bigger fish do more than he did in his lifetime, before 8 am)


[flagged]


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19330329.

I'm confused. That is not the original post that I was commenting on. The original post I commented on called Martin Shkreli one of the shittiest human beings on the face of the earth. I could be missing something though...maybe it got edited? Is it possible to give some more info on how/why/where this got detached?

EDIT: Never mind. I'm dumb. I see that flagged comment now. My bad.


Why do you say this? That's an incredibly bold claim.

I think you should start with:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Shkreli


You're like everyone else who hates Shkreli. You don't know anything about him.

Someone asks you to conjure up a concrete criticism of the guy, and you just link to his Wikipedia page like you're being clever. Shkreli is an excellent man who's suffered a great deal of abuse and disparagement, and it's tremendously disappointing to continue to see comments like this in a venue that's supposed to know better.


He gouged the sick for profit. Is that concrete enough?

From what I understand he only raised prices that insurance companies would pay. He offered the drug for free to anyone without insurance who couldn't afford it. So, not exactly.

Also, that money from insurance companies would go to the development of better and safer drugs. People just tend to skim the surface of a news story and form their opinions based on public consensus, which is that Shkreli is an evil person. Of course in reality, he's a distraction.

And if someone (unnecessarily, I presume - I doubt the drug had been a loss-maker while it was selling at a lower price) dramatically raises the price of a drug to insurance companies, where do you suppose the insurance companies will look to find the extra money?

In the case of Daraprim? Nowhere. It's not a drug many people need. Shrkreli himself has talked about this. It simply wouldn't be able to make a dent because of this, and it didn't.

If I'm recalling correctly, and I might not be, Shkreli is agnostic about the larger policy issue at hand, he simply made a choice for his own business that had little to no negative real impact.


>>He gouged the sick for profit. Is that concrete enough?

Who in that (for profit) business doesn't???? Excluding Mother Teresa like foundations...

Why do you think out health care bill is so freaking high? Because of compassion from pharma CEOs?


KUKU bro, he [provided a cure] to [people with life-threatening illness] for PROFIT?

Is this Hacker News?


One of the shittiest human beings on the face of the earth? Really? There are people alive today who have committed mass genocide. I'm going to go out on a limb and say they are probably shittier human beings than Martin Shkreli. So no, not concrete enough.

[flagged]


Personal attacks will get you banned here. Please don't post like this again.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I said nothing of his criminality or ethics. I just said he's not one of the shittiest human beings on the face of the earth. I mean you could kind of argue that OP thinks it's a race to the bottom, not me.

Personal attacks break the HN guidelines.

> Shkreli is an excellent man who's suffered a great deal

Unsure if trolling.


I think this is at least a little dishonest, since I have a hard time believing you are unaware of, if not the details of, at least the existence of his legal and moral controversies and his antagonistic personality. It's not a "bold claim" - it's a very common claim rooted in understandable human reactions. Whether or not it is justified in all contexts is a legitimate question that should be discussed.

I don't think his actions are as malicious as the media portrayed. But that's not why I added my comment.

The reason I say it's a bold claim is that I don't think he even makes the list of worst people on the earth. There's literally people Committing genocide. I would never put Mr. Skrelli in the same category as a murderer.


He has acted in a way that is pretty clearly against societal ethics (if we can ignore the uber libretarian capitalists which I still consider to be a fringe group). He deprived other living beings of their right to a healthy life to marginally improve his own standing while paying down a debt he fraudulently accrued for his own self-interest.

There's an interesting thing in societal norms, they shift over time. So if you were aware of his actions fully (and I didn't cover all the details here) and do feel like it's a bold claim I'd be curious to know (if you'd share it) which generational group you're in and where abouts in the country you are. There has lately, in American culture, been this glorification of white collar bad-boys and I find it deeply disturbing myself due to the immense volume of harm they end up bringing to undeserving people without the means to deflect it.


> He deprived other living beings of their right to a healthy life

If you do even the slightest bit of (primary source) research into this, you will find that this is not true.

You're mistaking what he is for something else. He's not a white-collar bad boy, he's a troll.


I disagree strongly with that, raising the price of a drug beyond the point of being able to sustain production of it is an ethical minefield, you are disqualifying some patients access to the drug by doing so and you're increasing the burden on patients that can afford the increased price. In our modern world we're pretty happy to excuse moves like this as "market effects" and ignore the real cost of them but there absolutely is a real cost in terms of the quality of lives other human beings are able to lead.

I'm sorry but you act like the insurance companies weren't the target of his scheme and not the patients. Why do you think he got hit so hard? It's because his scheme was effective. I wouldn't be surprised if the insurance companies helped bankroll the investigation and prosecution at the start. He would even give the drug away for free if they couldn't afford it. The same thing goes for other specialty HIV drugs like truvada.

It's like the old saying about Russian vs. American missiles, "The Americans build a bomb that can flatten a one mile radius and drop it on the target, the Russians build a bomb that can flatten a ten mile radius and drop it near the target" his offer to "give away the drug for free if they couldn't afford it" wasn't realized, he may have intended it but people off insurance that didn't qualify for medicaid price reductions got hit with the full price - additionally insured customers who were getting the low out of pocket price were still being penalized for requiring such an expensive drug. The system is broken, absolutely, but that doesn't give him a get-out-of-ethical-violations-free card.

There's a sibling post I wrote with my personal experience dealing with the ridiculousness of drug pricing, these tricks and games do hit people.


> I'm sorry but you act like the insurance companies weren't the target of his scheme

They weren't; insurance company profits are limited to a percentage of reimbursed costs, so the insurers were incedental beneficiaries of the scheme.

The targets were insurance premium payers.


What you said is not entirely true. Daraprim (the drug you are referring to) costs $10 out of pocket for insured patients. For uninsured low income patients it's free of charge.

My line of work makes me pretty familiar with the insurance market, there is no way a drug manufacturer can ensure $10 out of pocket, they can lobby for certain drug level coverage in formularies but where they land and what those levels translate to in terms of cost is up to the drug company, ways around this that have been tried (drug companies offering manufacturer rebate coupons to lower out-of-pocket costs) can be countered by insurance companies refusing to cover costs that a rebate would cover or refusing to cover any costs without the rebate being activated...

What you said is not an achievable statement.


From what I understand only the patients insurance would have to carry the extra costs, those who were unable to pay up were given it for free.

Insurance companies are not a charity. Of course you're paying the cost. You just pay it in higher premiums.

That's possibly true, I don't know much about the American health care system however I can't imagine they would significantly raise the cost of your insurance plan beyond what you're able to pay because you needed a 2 week supply of drugs to treat a one-off parasitic infection.

If the American health care system is so broken that insurance companies are making people destitute for receiving care then the USA has bigger problems than a single CEO.


That is unfortunately exactly what is happening, as an example here's an article from back in 2018 about the 650mil being independently raised on GoFundMe to address inflated costs.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolynmcclanahan/2018/08/13/us...


"If the American health care system is so broken" – yes. yes it is that broken.

Do you have any evidence that anyone was actually hurt (in the medical sense) by this? Typically pharma companies (including turing) offer discounts for those who can't afford it. De facto, the price is a price for insurance holders, not for the general public. The scam exists because the government wants to encourage manufacturers to revive generics (they very much focus on patent evergreening etc). Ultimately the whole thing is wierdly not a free market, as the scamming strategies depend on enforceable artificial monopolies created to artificially incentivise activities that the government assumes we wouldn't do otherwise.

Yea, I've been through some different phases in my life and taken a drug through most of it at the same dosage, there was a year when I had a crazy pricing experience. At the beginning of the year I was covered by Green Mountain Care in VT (the state medicare for all program) and paid 0$ for a 30 day refill of my medication, then I had a lapse in coverage due to employment insurance not kicking in right and ended up paying 264$ for my 30 day supply and when my insurance kicked in I had the Cigna preferred rate of 186$ for 30 days (I had no coverage for that drug, but I did have general pharma coverage). Mid-way through the year we switched insurers and I ended up paying 28$ for a 30 day supply for a few years and then in Nov or Oct a generic came on the market and I dropped down to 3$ of a 30 day supply.

This story is personal and doesn't involve any drugs Shkreli was directly involved with but I'm putting it out there to demonstrate the sort of BS pricing all throughout the pharma market, there are I'm sure some people with bad or no coverage but living just above the Medicaid line that had to pay full out-of-pocket price for Daraprim after the price hike from 13.50/pill to 750/pill, this problem really does hit people.

I agree that there are multiple solutions and issues here, the fact that the government allows market control via eternally extended patents (oh my, read about the history of insulin and how the Canadian inventors released it for free for ethical reasons and now a few companies have a stranglehold on the market) definitely contributes a lot to this situation, but even when looking at medical procedure billing you can easily find crazy market disparities in costs between hospitals down the street from one another - and medical procedures are (mostly) out of the government's hands, that's just unethical companies pumping up the prices on inelastic goods because they can.

Your question doesn't really apply to this last bit but I thought I'd add... Shkreli himself is not just a scapegoat, he was a bad actor and deserves what he's getting, unfortunately it is quite fair to point out that people who have acted equally unethically have felt no problems for their actions because, unfortunately, currently those unethical actions are not illegal in our society - as the Shkreli case and the vitriol around it demonstrates, we, the society, feel like this is an unethical state. There are arguments to be had about the tyranny of the majority and the unfair partial application of the law but... that's all just wool gathering to avoid the truth.


Wait, are you talking about Martin Shkreli or the Pharmaceutical Industry?

he provided that aids medicine for free to people who couldn't afford it at least that's what he claimed in an interview he did on his youtube channel. He seems to be more of a troll. It struck me as strange that in most cases he didn't bother to defend himself and kind of enjoyed being viewed as a villain.

In any discussion about adblockers the consensus among HN readers seems to be "I'd pay if I had the option" - yet the first thing to appear on any paywalled story is a link to Outline.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19329211 and marked it off-topic.

I'd pay given the right structure. Eg I'd pay fifty cents to a buck for a given article. But monthly recurring payments to several different publishers? Hard pass.

50 cents is far too much. I just read that article and it was pretty much just filler.

Yeah, I'm not paying 30€ to read three or four stories like these, and I have no intention of reading the WSJ outside of the few HN links I click on. I already pay monthly fees for other publications.

That's probably what you're looking to see. Many, me included, will never pay if there's an avenue to get it for free (regardless of legality).

consensus =/= unanimity

It only takes one person to post the comment and a few more to upvote it. Furthermore, particularly in the case of the WSJ, there is no low cost option for reading individual stories. You either become a subscriber at the monthly rate, or you don't read anything.


I think we all know the truth. The Revealed Preference is that people get reporting for free. The rest is rationalization.

I don't think they ever intend to actually pay as much as they feel they do. Faced with the option to do so, they never do.

"I would do X" has a massive list of caveats, most of which are non-intersecting with anyone elses. Don't try to run a business based on this. Flattr and Blendle tried this and are having a hard time.

It's just "don't believe people will buy your product till you have the money".


I've started paying for NYT because it turned out to be by far my most consumed news source. There's no other source I read enough to justify paying for a monthly subscription. Something like scroll.com, blendle.com, or associated services seem like a good start at tackling this better, but there may need to be a dedicated protocol for total acceptance.

Maybe something like https://www.w3.org/Payments/WG/


I used to pay for NYTimes. But they have the most horrendous app. The ads freeze up the phone. Not sure if it’s the same for WSJ. But if I pay for it, then you give me ads which in turn actually degrade the experience? Yeah, that’s a unsubscribe.

I suspect this is because the real 'consensus' is more nuanced than that.

I would pay if there was a good option. A monthly subscription to read a single article on a public discussion forum is. To a good option.

It's a fair point.

I pay circa $500/year for traditional journalism, plus maybe another $1000/year on Patreon for specific writers, plus assorted donations. So I'm not averse to paying.

However, there are a few cases where I'm happy to skate around a paywall. A relevant one here is that I just don't read the WSJ often enough to justify a full subscription. With other places, like say HBR, I'd fall in their "N free articles per month" bucket. I expect the WSJ will eventually come around to that approach. Until then, me reading it via Outline or whatever isn't costing the WSJ any money, either directly or in would-have-subscribed-if-I-had-to revenue, so I don't feel bad about it.


There's no difference between a CEO and a gangster apparently. They both ruin lives, kill people, and use contraband cellphones from jail to continue doing so. It's sad that our culture glorifies one but despises another when they are equally evil and antisocial.

CEOs don’t go to jail for any of those things. The funniest thing about the Shkreli case to me is that despite the bad press about who he was, what actually put him jail was that he gambled (and won) with a some rich people’s investments and then the SEC threw the book at him.

Al Capone went to jail for tax fraud. It doesn't mean he didn't kill people or that the comparison is not apt. It's right on point.

People who don't even believe in karma are pretty dense. If you don't provide value, you won't have anything. He took value from people, all was taken from him. You can't escape it. It's the law of sewing and reaping.

Actually, the people he defrauded (and for which he's in prison) all say he doubled or even tripled their money.

Pyramid schemes also double and triple the money of people. Until they don’t.

That’s why we have securities laws.



So many in Corporate America remain unscathed after 2008. We need to formulate laws and enforce them. Karma can only do so much.

That must be a comforting world view.

That's not karma. That's the criminal justice system.

Karma, justice, call it what you want. You can't escape it.

It's incredibly rare for white collar criminals to get caught and put in jail. You have to look no farther than the White House to see that not only can you escape it, but that it's actually the norm.

People escape it all the time. We don’t live in the main DC continuity.

People escape karma/justice regularly, unless we're talking about Abrahamic-style afterlives.

Idi Amin died an old man in a palace in Saudi Arabia.

Lenin, Stalin and Mao all dies of natural causes as heroic leaders at the height of their powers. Arguably even Hitler died at a point where he was badly affected by Parkinson's Disease and it's unlikely he could have survived much longer anyway. They were each responsible for death and misery on previously unimaginable scales. It's hard to conceive of the suffering they caused even now. Only in the case of Hitler can we say any of them suffered for it at all, and even then only marginally when you look at the big picture. More recently, the leaders of North Korea have also died as worshiped heroes.

When you think about those people in your mind, where are they? HELL. The world is more than the physical. It is the imagination, the spiritual. Those people are being punished every day, every time we think of them.

Honestly, with Shkreli's level of ambition and intellect, I doubt he'll ever be broke or unsuccessful.

I'm not a fanboy or anything, but a big percentage of rich people have done some illegalities. They still end up on top. It's really survival of the fittest.

The humble people that want work life balance and doing the right thing are way less rewarded with money and luxury. You can be on the humble side, but don't wish misery on the witty capitalists. It will never happen.


It seems karma is working backwards in this case, since Shkreli usually makes everyone a lot of money, including the "victims" of his "securities fraud".

He did provide value with a great ROI



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