Criminal schools attract criminals.

Very simple principle, simply stated. You can add that criminal schools in deeply corrupt states attract lots of, er, bad actors, and indeed accumulate long non-glorious histories of the corrupt and criminal.

You’re thinking of the U of Smell — Louisville — I know, cuz we spend a lot of time on that swamp on this blog; but don’t forget its smelliforous competitor, the University of New Mexico. Read through these posts for the narrative of that school’s greedy-dolt presidents, sticky-finger ADs, lazy-dolt trustees, and desperately enraged students and faculty. Short version – jest ’bout anybody who attains a position of responsibility at UNM (i.e. access to funds) steals.

What’s truly distinctive about New Mexico is the stupidity of their academic removalists. Former vastly paid AD Paul Krebs not only robbed the school blind; he wrote about it in university-account emails to his fellow-traveler and current UNM professor wife. He took what some chump thought was a donation to the athletic department and instructed his wife — again, in an email – to put the check where the sun don’t shine.

[The] $25,000 check … “should not be traceable …” Authorities say his wife received these instructions on her university email: “delete everything I sent when done so nothing discoverable in IPRA (public records) request. Including your delete file. Thanks.”

Thanks? Not love? Not even a heart emoji?

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

In 1997, Richard [Sackler] was involved in discussion with employees of a Sackler-owned company in Germany over whether they could get regulatory authorities there to let them sell OxyContin as an uncontrolled drug. Though OxyContin developer Robert Kaiko warned that this was a terrible idea, Richard seemed supportive of the idea, asking in a subsequent message: “How substantially would it improve your sales?” But in his deposition, Richard insisted he was never a fan of the idea, arguing, “we were not in favor of this, but we were trying to be polite and solicitous rather than saying, this is a terrible idea, forget it, don’t do it.”

When the idea ultimately failed, Richard sent a message to an employee in Germany saying, “When we are next together we should talk about how this idea was raised and why it failed to be realized. I thought that it was a good idea if it could be done.”

In the deposition, Richard explained this by saying, “That’s what [my response] said, but I didn’t mean it. I just wanted to be encouraging.”

The Horror! The Horror!

A True Tale of Postmodern America

Nike has had $1.1bn (£844m) knocked off its stock market value after what is being called one of the most expensive apparel failures in history.

The company’s value tumbled by 1.7 per cent on Thursday as it was repeatedly blamed for a sprained knee to rising basketball star Zion Williamson, seen by millions live on TV.

Sports lovers across the US watched in horror as the teenager was crocked when his Nike trainer tore apart mid-shot during a high profile college match.

‘[During a meeting at one of his facilities, [Philip] Esformes told Gaby Delgado about a woman who had recently killed herself because she was facing legal problems related to health care. He said she did the right thing and that Delgado should do the same …’

Most of the meetings took place in Esformes’ swimming pool (you need to register for access to the linked site) – he was worried Delgado might be wearing a wire – but this bit of personal counseling went on in one of the defendant’s many Medicare/Medicaid money extraction locations…

Man, I told you this trial would be fun! I told you! The biggest health care fraud in the history of this country is the culmination of generations of effort by the pious, illustrious Esformes family,  whose patriarch’s name adorns a chair at the University of Miami medical school, and whose scion played basketball so well for the University of Pennsylvania that his coach is going to prison.

Hiding Miss Daisy

To cover up the scheme, … Esformes ordered his deputies to bribe Florida regulators to get advanced warnings of their inspections and would physically hide patients who didn’t qualify for government-funded care before inspectors arrived.

Hokay, now that we’ve wrapped up the Guzman trial…

it’s time to turn to the father of the most highly-bought-after player on the University of Pennsylvania basketball team! I promise you that the trial of the biggest Medicare fraudmeister in American history will be fun. Incredibly fun.

Wonder if Jerome Allen will follow it from his jail cell.

John Hammergren’s Best Friend Turns on Him

The FDA has stood back and watched proudly as its buddy John Hammergren [scroll down], head of drug distributor McKesson, pockets seven hundred million dollars for ten years of work — but he earned every penny of it, having engineered the distribution, for instance, of five million opioids to Kermit, WV, population four hundred.

Hammergren’s the sort of pusher-billionaire the FDA’s in the business of ignoring… ignoring? Nay, encouraging, as he finds and exploits bottomless wells of addiction in this nation’s hollers and thereby does his part to make America the economic miracle that it is. He’s honored everywhere: Arizona State University named him Executive of the Year; he sits on the board of the prestigious Center for Strategic and International Stupefacients… Because we want people like Hammergren setting policy for us, and for the world, China and India having much larger populations than Kermit, and awaiting McKesson’s ministrations…

Well, it’s all been a win-win arrangement, but now the butcher’s bill is really coming due on the whole opioid thing – ie it’s not just no-‘count West Virginians dying anymore, and even the FDA has today felt compelled to murmur a little demur or two…

***************

The FDA’s his best friend. Wanna know who his lover is? The DEA.

Grapes of Wrath, by Lloyd Blankfein

I been thinkin’, long as I’m a outlaw anyways, maybe I could — Hell, I ain’t thought it out clear, Ma. Don’ worry me now. Don’ worry me…  I’ll be all aroun’ in the dark. I’ll be ever’where — wherever you look. Wherever they’s a prime minister so corrupt he’ll make us billions, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a filthy leader taking all the money out of his country, I’ll be there.   I’ll be there in the way Malaysian children die in the hospital cuz they’re sick an’ they know Goldman and the prime minister took all the money out of the country . An’ when folks eat dirt and live in the streets — why, I’ll be there. See? 

Billionaire

Sing it.

Billionaire — I should go around weeping
Billionaire — I should go without sleeping
Strangely enough, I sleep well
‘Cept for a dream or two
But then I count my keep well
Assets so deep can lull you to sleep
So I should care, I should let it upset me
I should care but it just doesn’t get me
Maybe I won’t be as moral as you
But I don’t care and fuck you

Howard Schultz’s Billionaire Problem – And Ours

(My title comes from this 1963 essay.)

**************

Everyone’s laughing at Schultz’s request not to be called a billionaire; instead, he asks that we use the phrase ‘people of means.’ Some of the more amusing responses to his ‘billionaire’ problem:

I prefer ‘wealth extractors’

[how about] ‘money hoarders’

‘poverty profiteers’

Thank you Howard Schultz for calling out the dehumanising label ‘billionaire’ applied to people merely for causing vast swaths of the world to live in absolute, crushing misery. I vow to do better

***********************

Why would a billionaire not wish to be called a billionaire? I can’t think of instances where millionaires asked not to be called millionaires. Michael Hiltzik wrote a recent column titled America is Falling Out of Love with Billionaires, so there does seem to be a problem of some sort. (“The plus side of Howard running is he’s making more people hate billionaires.”) What could it be?

Let’s start with Matt Taibbi on Goldman Sachs:

The bank is a huge, highly sophisticated engine for converting the useful, deployed wealth of society into the least useful, most wasteful and insoluble substance on Earth — pure profit for rich individuals.

Millionaires can be pointlessly and destructively greedy, but only to a certain, reasonably comprehensible, extent. Billionaires can – nay, many of them, it appears, must – really go to town, in a way that strikes the rest of us as simply mentally ill. There will always be no-limits wealth defenders to tell us we’re envious or we’re going to destroy personal enterprise; but it’s hard to know how to be envious of people who desperately unenterprisingly do things like this:

Last week it was reported that Daniel Snyder, the owner of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, was spending $100 million on a 305-foot super-yacht complete with an on-board IMAX screening room. It’s his second yacht, after a 220-foot version.

At the same moment, hedge fund owner Ken Griffin was disclosed as the buyer of the most expensive home in America, a $238-million Manhattan penthouse. According to Bloomberg, he already owns two floors of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Chicago ($30 million), a Miami Beach penthouse ($60 million), another Chicago penthouse ($58.75 million) and another apartment in Manhattan ($40 million).

Titanic, duplicative, restless, vacuous greed unsettles us; it makes the ethical grotesquerie of one human being holding fourteen billion dollars extremely graphic. “Why,” asks Farhad Manjoo, ” should anyone have a billion dollars, why should anyone be proud to brandish their billions, when there is so much suffering in the world?” What sort of people has our, uh, country of means spawned? Consider the vast antiquity of Robert Hughes’ 2004 comment on the billionaire art buyers of his day:

[T]he present commercialisation of the art world, at its top end, is a cultural obscenity. When you have the super-rich paying $104m for an immature Rose Period Picasso – close to the GNP of some Caribbean or African states – something is very rotten. Such gestures do no honour to art: they debase it by making the desire for it pathological.

$104m? Try $450m.

Billionaires, notes Merryn Somerset Webb, typically exist

as a result of mismanaged monetary policy (free money can do a lot if you use it right); badly thought-out regulation; politically unacceptable rent-seeking; corruption; asset bubbles; a failure of anti-trust rules; or some miserable mixture of the lot.

Hiztlik quotes Keynes going deeper into the obscenity Hughes describes. Keynes found the emergent form of what he called “the money motive” repulsive, and hoped for an end to “many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues…. [T]he love of money as a possession [has become the goal] — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life. [This behavior] will [someday] be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semicriminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.”

Billionaires represent the compulsive masturbators of their day, and more and more of them are doing it in public. Schultz knows this.

‘Purdue Pharma is now taking Oxycontin into international markets with significantly less regulatory oversight. According to [one observer], “the Sackler family has only increased its efforts abroad, and is now pushing the drug, through a Purdue-related company called Mundipharma, into Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.”‘

When your school or museum starts considering whether to return Sackler money, keep this in mind. Not just depraved indifference. Fiercely determined depraved indifference.

Bathhouse owner, 1982, AIDS epidemic, to an AIDS doctor: “We’re both in it for the same thing. Money. We make money at one end when they come to the baths. You make money from them on the other end when they come [to the hospital].”

(Quoted here.)

Purdue Pharma, opioid epidemic, 2014:

In internal correspondence beginning in 2014, Purdue Pharma executives discussed how the sale of opioids and the treatment of opioid addiction are “naturally linked” and that the company should expand across “the pain and addiction spectrum,” according to redacted sections of the lawsuit by the Massachusetts attorney general. A member of the billionaire Sackler family, which founded and controls the privately held company, joined in those discussions and urged staff in an email to give “immediate attention” to this business opportunity, the complaint alleges.

I know. They’re not really the same thing. Business practices have evolved since 1982. The Sacklers alone make money at both ends.

Performing a Stiffyoscopy at the Underground

U Buffalo’s generous donor

Gives each of his salesmen a boner.

One dancer exotic

For every narcotic

That you sell for the company’s owner.


John Hammergren: Getting his Ass Out While the Getting is Good!

Seven hundred million dollars over the last ten years in personal compensation! Not bad. This guy makes the Sacklers look like chumps. And all on the backs of poor slobs in West Virginia who took his drugs and destroyed themselves and their worlds. And now the CEO of the most disgusting opioid distributor in the world (“In 2006 and 2007 … McKesson Corp … shipped more than 5.66 million opioid pills to a single pharmacy in a tiny town in rural West Virginia, according to a scathing congressional report released last month.”) has decided that with the eyes of the courts upon his business methods the time is absolutely right to retire.

Time to explore other ways he can make a contribution to society.

The Sacklers: A Clear Explanation.

For Andrew Kolodny, co-director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Purdue’s wrongdoing is the Sacklers’ wrongdoing. As the inventors and owners of Purdue, the Sacklers deserve the “lion’s share” of the blame for America’s opioid crisis, he said.

He explained that the United States’ opioid epidemic is as severe as it is because the medical community began aggressively to prescribe opioids in the ’90s in response to what Kolodny deems a “brilliant marketing campaign” carried out by Purdue. He said the company has faced legal consequences for some of the specific ways in which it marketed OxyContin, but it was never punished for the “nonbranded marketing” they performed by persuading the medical community to feel more comfortable prescribing opioids.

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