Here we had a perfectly good villain in the reprehensible Dr. Walter Palmer, the Minneapolis dentist who last July killed Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. He allegedly lured Cecil out of his protected area with meat and shot the national treasure with an arrow, then tracked him while he wandered wounded for 40 hours, at which point the good doctor deigned to put him out of his misery (without nitrous oxide). The outrage was immediate and global and I figured Palmer would have to close shop immediately, probably move, change his name and fingerprints, plastic surgery maybe.

But six weeks later he was back at work. Oh sure, at first he had to walk past pesky signs that read “Rot in Hell,” but you’ll never please some people, eh? Palmer had three different homes, to provide enough wall space to mount all his heads. This was not the first (or the sec- ond) time he ran afoul of the law for killing wild creatures according to his own moneyed rules.

Majestic, endangered, now slaughtered, beheaded and skinned Cecil drew waves of sympathy, but what about humans metaphori- cally hunted down? We now have a new villain.

If you’ve opened up any news portal in the last few days you have probably been intro- duced to Martin Shkreli. He’s a behind the scenes bad guy, using financial skills acquired as a young hedge fund manager rather than arrows and bullets, but he’s a potential killer nonetheless. Unlike Palmer: strictly legal.

By acquiring rights to the drug Daraprim, used by around 2,000 Americans yearly with immune systems weakened by cancer treat- ments, HIV/AIDS, organ transplants or just pregnancy, and immediately hiking the price by 5,500 percent, from $13.50 a pill to $750, he put those 2,000 people at dire risk. One year’s treatment, if you weigh more than 132 pounds, will now cost $634,500. Under 132, lower dosage, a mere $336,000.

Besides the obvious danger for anyone not a member of the Walmart Walton fami- ly, there’s other immediate fallout. Hospitals and pharmacies are no longer able to stock it, at those rates. While it is life or death for those with depressed immune systems, the toxoplasmosis it treats affects almost one- quarter of all Americans over age 12.

I won’t go into detail, you’ve probably already absorbed most of the story. Shkreli did an inter- view with CNN of such smug arrogance, preced- ed by tweets worthy of Marie Antoinette, that outrage increased exponentially. He has finally backed down and agreed to lower the price sub- stantially. I’m not sure how his mother and his dog feel about him right now, but I know one guy who loves him to death: Dr. Walter Palmer, now #2, a distant memory.

WHAT’S ALL THIS GOT TO DO WITH ME, YOU, AND BERNIE SANDERS? I’ll tell ya. It’s the system we’ve got now and the politicians who are invested in keeping it going. But it wasn’t always like this, and it

can change back.
Many will shrug and think, well, this

doesn’t affect me personally, or anyone I know, this rare drug. Sounds awful and heartless, but it’s capitalism and people are allowed to make a profit, right?

But there’s profit, and there’s obscene profit. We used to have governmental con- trols that allowed people to prosper and even become wealthy from their hard work, busi-

ness acumen and inventiveness, but stopped short of debtors’ prison or removing a limb for stealing a loaf of bread to feed your hun- gry kids. Things were working pretty well in America in the last half of the 20th century… until 1980, and guess who? President Supply Side Trickle Down. A bogus economic theo- ry that has been proven without merit for 35 years and still the current crop of GOP Know Nothings preach it as gospel.

There are nuances to these statistics, but consider: Republican President Dwight Eisenhower (1952-60) pushed the top income tax rate DOWN to 91 percent. Corporate taxes hit 50 percent. And jobs pro- liferated, wages rose, and the economy pros- pered. We had enough money to start NASA and build the interstate highway system.

Since Deregulating Ronnie turned the ship around (not in a good way), things have been getting ridiculously better for the 1 percent, and the middle class is hanging on for dear life. It’s been the greatest transference of wealth since the days of unbridled Caesars, Czars and Attila the Hun. Personally, I think capitalism is a good system for our country, with one crucial caveat: it is amoral. Under capitalism, corporations have only one mis- sion, to make money. Nowhere is it even pen- ciled in that people are to be considered… unless, of course, it affects the bottom line.

Fine. So you do need those humane, common sense controls, but politicians of both parties, dependent on campaign dona- tions to remain in power, have been working hard to throw those controls overboard for their corporate sugar daddies.

Bernie Sanders is a candidate for President unlike any I’ve seen in my lifetime. No PAC. No corporate beholden. Approaching 1,000,000 individual donors. “Bernie can’t be bought.” Check out his platform. It’s exactly what we need to restore balance and a fair shake for all in this country. Can he win? Damn straight. His rise in the polls is astound- ing. People are just beginning to find out what he stands for, and he stands for them. Period.

Sanders wants universal health care here… like almost all of the rest of the world has. And he doesn’t want no stinking doughnut holes.

That was Bush’s idea, and his GOP-con- trolled Congress, in 2003. I’ll tell you very quick- ly how that works. A prescription for which I previously paid $102 three months ago, this time cost me $323. Because I’ve hit a certain plateau and am now in the delicious-sounding dough- nut hole. Where do you think that additional $221, out of my pocket, pure profit, is going?

Obama and the ACA have cut back the doughnut hole ‚Äì gradually, through 2020. I hope you don’t get hit like I have but you could. I hope you don’t need some lifesaving drug that some snot-nosed greed-punk has chosen as his personal path to financial engorgement. I hope you are fed up and will vote for real change at the polls next November. That, not what we’ve got now, is the American way.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Rerun: “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.” ‚Äì Mark Twain

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