Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


I'm beginning to like Martin Shkreli.

No, of course that's not true. But I'm sure I'm not capable of the detestation that he seems to attract from others.

Here's this supposed "Most Hated CEO in America" who seems, to my life-curdled eyes, merely a fine bro-like symbol of much of our business culture.

Yet just as he tried to make us believe that he would lower the price of Daraprim, an anti-parasistic drug whose price he had raised by 4,000 percent, he didn't. Which made him seem a little (more) like a parasitic capitalist.

But he did donate some money to Bernie Sanders.

Perhaps the two things are related. Perhaps Shkreli thought that offering money to the slightly leftish presidential candidate would give him street-(Sh)kred.

Indeed, as the Boston Globe reported, Shkreli received a "thank you" note from Sanders's people. It read: "Hey, dude. Can you get us some of those drugs on the cheap?"

Of course I'm not serious. The note said: "Our political system is corrupt. Big Money controls much of what happens. Together, you and I are changing that. Thank you again for your support. Best, Bernie."

This wasn't the best Bernie, as it turned out. It was likely a pro-forma piece of technology that automated Best Bernie.

And then someone at Bernie Central realized where the money had come from. Which elicited this official statement: "We are not keeping the money from this poster boy for drug company greed." (The campaign says it gave the $2,700 to a health clinic.)

That's the problem, isn't it? Shkreli is likely no more greedy that half (or even more) the drug company CEOs in America.

It's just that with his slightly smuggist mien, his I'm-just-cleverer-than-you-and-I-know-it-and-you-know-it-too gurn, he's taken on the mantle that must secretly make all his fellow drug company CEOs relieved.

Of course Shkreli knew that his contribution would ultimately attract Sanders's eye.

He hoped, indeed, to meet with him in order to explain why drug prices must be so high. He does, I suspect, rather enjoy playing the Joker to the Commissioner Gordons of politics and the media.

"He'll take my money, but he won't engage with me for five minutes to understand this issue better," Shkreli told the Globe.

In capitalism, there's no such thing as altruism or generosity. Money is supposed to make you talk.

By rejecting his money, Shkreli fears that Sanders is "appealing to the masses, that he's just kind of talking out of his rear end so that he gets some votes."

Talking out of your rear end gets you votes. Discuss.

Did Shkreli get Berned? Did Bernie get Shkreli-Bellied?

There's something joyously quaint about two men vying for attention and somehow believing that they will sway opinion solely through their righteousness.

There is one way, of course, to decide which of them has right as their might: Sanders should go into business and Shkreli should go into politics.

Only then would we see which orifice they favored for speech.