Martin Shkreli is not the problem

Martin Shkreli is not the problem

One of the biggest items in the news this week is the story of Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager who started a pharmaceutical company, purchased the US marketing rights to a 62 year old life-saving drug called Daraprim, and then promptly raised the price from $13.50/pill to $750/pill. While Mr. Shkreli has been blasted in the media over the last few days (and rightly so – if there has been a more cold-hearted business decision in America this decade, it hasn’t been publicized), there has been little discussion about the real problem here.

Martin Shkreli is a bloodsucking monster, and he’s a fool if he couldn’t predict the backlash that would result from raising the price of a lifesaving drug by over 5500%. But this isn’t an isolated incident, and the fact that Shkreli has withered and backed down in the face of overwhelming criticism is not an opportunity for us to celebrate.

Martin Shkreli is simply the most visible face of a system that is crippling American health care. In his arrogance, he bragged about the power he had over the price of the drugs he purchased and was slapped down by public opinion. However, his wiser compatriots make even sleazier and more infuriating deals every day – they just have the sense to do these things behind closed doors.

Americans pay more for their health care than the citizens of any other nation in the world, and we get less for our money than the people of any other industrialized country. This is not because our government has failed at regulating our healthcare system – it’s because our government has succeeded at handing our healthcare system over to their friends and campaign donors on Wall Street.

The root of all the problems with medical care in this country is the private insurance system. Insurance companies are for-profit corporations that determine the cost of every procedure, every treatment, and every medication. These companies are not concerned with producing the best health outcomes – they are concerned with achieving that maximum possible profit, so they are constantly increasing the prices Americans need to pay by increasing the costs of medical procedures.

Some of our lawmakers have made basic attempts to correct this situation. Obamacare started off as an attempt to reform the health care system, but it rapidly degenerated into just another way for the insurance companies and Wall Street to drain Americans dry. Wall Street lobbyists made sure that the representatives and senators they had paid for changed the health care bill enough to guarantee that the insurance companies would never lose a cent. Meanwhile there are still millions of Americans with no health insurance, and those who do have insurance can barely afford the payments.

Martin Shkreli is just the smirking face of Wall Street – he is only a symptom of the problem. The real problem is the system that Wall Street, the Republicans, and the Democrats have created. Their only goal is to make money from the suffering of American people, and they have turned America into a machine that does that perfectly. We shouldn’t celebrate because Shkreli has been intimidated into backing down; we need to refocus our energies on taking down the system that allowed him to exist in the first place.

My top priority when I am elected president will be to completely overhaul the health care system, but I am going to need your help to do it. Together, we need to vote out all of these Wall Street lackeys, and the Democrats and Republicans are both responsible. I urge you to join me in 2016 by casting your vote for independent candidates, starting with Art Drew for President of the United States. Together, we’ll turn this country around.