There have been two parallel stories in the news recently, one of which affects me personally and does not. The two are as follows:
First, hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli was proposing to increase the price of Daraprim, a 62-year-old generic but life-saving drug used on patients with weak immune systems, from $13.50 per pill to $750. That is, until the Internet got a hold of it and shamed him into a retreat.
Turing Pharmaceuticals of New York, of which Shkreli is the CEO, bought the drug from Impax Laboratories in August for $55 million before raising the price. This 32 year old heartless little asswipe — the poster boy for everything that is wrong with our current capitalistic system — tried to defend the price hike as necessary for the financial health of the company.
This generic drug is 62 years old. This little peckerhead just cornered the market on this little used drug, and tried to make a killing off of the old and infirm.
There would be a special place in hell reserved for little peckerheads like this, if hell actually existed.
The second story involves Volkswagen, and their indefensibly boneheaded decision to try and deceive the Environmental Protection Commission — as well as regulators in other countries — by installing software into their small diesel cars that would activate emission controls when the cars were being tested for emissions, but turn those controls off when the cars were in regular use.
And somehow they thought they would get away with this.
Now I’ve been driving Volkswagens for most of my life. I love the Golf/Rabbit models — and have owned I think just about every iteration of this brand — because between being practical and fun to drive and reasonably priced, it’s been a winning combination for me.
Now, for those of you who remember, Volkswagen was not the most reliable brand for a number of years, and they used to get beat out regularly by Toyota and other Japanese automakers. But they worked very hard on improving their reliability and their quality control, and in recent years they’ve been garnering rave reviews. My brother recently bought an eGolf, which he loves, and their clean diesels even won them some “Green Car of the Year” awards.
Until now. It turns out that with the emission controls turned off, some of these cars were emitting pollutants as high as 40 times the legal limit.
What the fuck?!
I mean, who makes decisions like this?
I understand that the cars are a little peppier with the emission controls turned off, and maybe that helped VW to sell a few more cars. But that’s going to be nothing compared to the amount of money they’re going to have to pay out on fines and penalties, plus the cost of recalls and fixes to the software. They’ve already reserved over $7 billion for the fix and their stock has dropped by over 20%.
In one boneheaded decision they have undone all the effort and work over the last ten years to achieve the stellar reputation that they had.
Martin Winterkorn, their CEO, has already resigned a few days after the scandal broke. There may be (and should be) criminal prosecutions of executive at Volkswagen.
|This should put an end to the notion, once and for all, that industries are capable of “regulating themselves.”|
As for me, I was literally preparing to buy a new car this month and wanted to upgrade to a clean diesel. I guess those plans are on hold for awhile.