Martin Shkreli's Observations on the Criminal Justice System
Believe it or not, I spent time on Christmas day, before we went out to an early dinner, watching the whole 1 hour+ interview that Laura Shin did of Martin Shkreli. Shkreli was giving advice to Samuel Bankman-Fried (henceforth SBF).
Shkreli, in case you don’t know or have forgotten, was the guy who, as a Pharma exec, raised the price of Daraprim. Daraprim is prescribed to AIDS patients and others with suppressed immune systems. He raised the price from $13.50 per pill to a whopping $750. That’s why he’s often called “pharmacy bro.” (Why did Shkreli go to prison? If you’re interested, then research it. That’s not what I want to discuss.)
The interview is fascinating. I learned a lot and I highly recommend it. One of my big bottom lines, which I already believed, is that I will do a lot to stay out of prison. Shkreli made me even more convinced.
Because it’s so hard to type his name each time, I’m going to call him Martin S.
One show that my wife and I enjoy watching is the Gutfeld show, on Fox News Channel every weekday evening at 8 p.m. It can go awfully low-brow and disgusting. But they often have very good discussions and often the humor is great.
Their discussion of Martin S.’s advice to SBF, though, was pretty bad. The various commentators had disdain for Martin S. because he’s a convicted criminal. Some of them seemed to think that for that reason, his advice would not be useful. But if I were facing serious federal charges, I would want to learn from someone who’s gone through something similar and who is very analytic. In trying to figure out federal judges, Martin S. even read a book by Judge Dick Posner titled How Judges Think.
The interview is full of insight after insight.
I would try to summarize it, but I can’t. I learned something almost every minute. I don’t know how good Laura Shin is as an interviewer generally; I’ve never seen her interviews. But she clearly realized that all she needed to do was ask a few questions and let Martin S. unwind.
Part of why I found it fascinating is that I’m the kind of person who tries to imagine how I would deal with various situations that are unlikely, just in case they happen. So, for example, well before 9/11, I always looked at people as they board an airplane I was already on and assess whether I think they are threats.
Also, I’ve often thought that if I were to go to a tough prison and someone tried to rape me, I would scratch and claw and kick and bite, knowing that I would still get the crap beat out of me and maybe worse. But my purpose would be to impose a high cost on someone who tried to rape me and then let the law of demand do its wonders.
That reminds me of a true story. It’s about a friend of mine who went to military prison during the Vietnam War. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany. He was dealing marijuana and got caught. The one witness whom the Army needed to testify against him didn’t want to. But that person was gay and the Army prosecutor knew it. So he threatened to out him as gay, something that had consequences 50 or so years ago that were way worse than what would happen now. So the guy testified and my friend was sent to the prison at Fort Leavenworth. But by the time he got to that prison, the gay guy had been badly beaten up. My friend had nothing to do with it: he’s not, and wasn’t, that kind of person. But, as Martin S. points out, the people in prison have a lot of time on their hands and pay attention to this kind of thing. They were positive that my friend had a gang that had beaten the guy up. My friend was smart enough never to disabuse them of that mistaken idea. As a result, he perceived himself to never be in danger.