It takes a lot to make my head explode these days, but reading about Martin Shkreli, the hedge fund brat who bought the drug used to treat toxoplasmosis and raised the price from $13.50 a pill to $750, accomplished exactly that. While the Times piece on Shkreli rightly generated a groundswell of outrage, it made me think of all the previous injustices in our health care system that didn’t. All the abuses of private health insurance companies prior to the ACA — the dropping of sick patients, the exorbitant premiums for those with pre-existing conditions, the flat-out denials of coverage dooming people to death or financial ruin — were just as evil, yet not as easily located in the scandalous behavior of one unsavory person. Remember this article about hospitals charging $137 for a $1 IV drip bag? In a sense, Shkreli simply puts a face on everything that is wrong with America’s predatory, profiteering health care system.
The Affordable Care Act was desperately needed to curb its worst excesses, and has worked extremely well. Shkreli serves to remind us of the need for regulation of an industry that obviously cannot be trusted to serve the public interest or behave ethically on its own.
Try making sense of Carly Fiorina’s headache-inducing manifesto “Redefining Feminism” on Medium. A feminist, according to Fiorina, is a woman who lives the life she chooses. Yet she argues that “feminism has devolved into a left-leaning political ideology where women are pitted against men and used as a political weapon to win elections.” It seems she wants to claim the mantle of feminism without actually taking the measures that are necessary for equality. This is a good summary of why the essay is a bunch of self-contradictory nonsense.
Fiorina’s Planned Parenthood remarks have been widely analyzed, but for the record, at no point did anyone say “keep it alive to harvest its brain,” despite her imaginative retelling.
Given the extreme droughts, wildfires, and other assorted weather oddities over the past few years, you might think some sort of inkling about climate change would be permeating the public consciousness, causing at least a few more Americans to pause before purchasing a whale-sized vehicle. And yet here we are, with full-sized luxury pickup truck sales booming and sedan sales sinking, making the SUV heyday of the early aughts look almost quaint. As WaPo’s Wonkblog notes, affluent buyers are snapping up plush $60,000-and-up land barges with heated leather seats and, yes, fiddleback eucalyptus wood trim (I did not make that up). Apparently our brief period of recession-induced humility is over:
“During the recession, if you could afford to buy a fancy new truck, it was not socially acceptable to flaunt it,” said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst at AutoTrader.com. But “the acceptance of conspicuous consumption is back.”
For those who think these overappointed behemoths have utilitarian value, I will let Mr. Money Mustache set the record straight on their usefulness as work trucks.
I saw many Syrian refugees begging on the streets of Istanbul when I was in Turkey earlier this summer. Little girls would come running up to me asking for lira, sometimes emphatically. I gave on several occasions, but it was impossible to give to everyone. I also visited Bodrum, the resort town where the Syrian boy recently washed up on the beach, making headlines around the world. When I was there, it wasn’t yet obvious that Bodrum was about to become Ground Zero for the refugee crisis. But it’s strange to know I was just walking those beaches and swimming in those waters. You can see the Greek island of Kos from the shore; tourists routinely take day trips there. I snapped this photo because I was reminded of Daily Kos:
I don’t have much to say about Donald Trump’s repugnant comments about immigrants, aside from the suggestion that he use some of his billions to buy a clue about the desperation that drives people into these situations.