Shkreli was roundly criticized, but he was defiant.
In February 2016, Shkreli was called before a congressional committee to justify his price increase on Daraprim. He refused to answer any questions, invoking the Fifth Amendment.
Shkreli was subsequently arrested in connection with an unrelated scheme to defraud his former hedge fund investors. In anticipation of his criminal trial, Shkreli boasted to the New Yorker magazine, “I think they’ll return a not-guilty verdict in two hours. There are going to be jurors who will be fans of mine. I walk down the streets of New York and people shake my hand. They say, ‘I want to be just like you.’”
During his trial, Shkreli strolled into a room filled with reporters and made light of a particular witness, for which the trial judge rebuked him. On his Facebook page he mocked the prosecutors and told news outlets they were a “junior varsity” team.
After his conviction, Shkreli called the case “a witch hunt of epic proportions, and maybe they found one or two broomsticks.” As she imposed sentence last Friday, the judge cited Shkreli’s “egregious multitude of lies,” noting also that he “repeatedly minimized” his conduct.
Shkreli’s story is tragic and pathetic, but I ask you: How different is Martin Shkreli from other figures who dominate American life today, even at the highest rungs?
Shkreli will do whatever it takes to win, regardless of the consequences for anyone else. He believes that the norms other people live by don’t apply to him. His attitude toward the law is that anything he wants to do is OK unless it is clearly illegal — and even if it’s illegal, it’s OK if he can get away with it.
Sound familiar? The Shkreli personality disorder can be found on Wall Street, in the executive suites of some of America’s largest corporations, in Hollywood, in Silicon Valley, in some of our most prestigious universities, and in Washington. If you look hard enough, you might even find it in Donald Trump’s White House.
Face it: America has a Shkreli problem.
Martin Shkreli will spend significant time in prison. But what will happen to the other unbridled narcissists now in positions of power in America who also blatantly defy the common good?