Big Pharma Price Fixing, Criminal Collusion, and the Failure of Capitalism

Here is a story I bet you haven’t heard about: recently a conspiracy has been uncovered, one that impacts peoples basic healthcare, and one that highlights, with obscene clarity, the irredeemable incentive system embedded inside capitalism.

Forty-five states and the Department of Justice are suing generic drug maker companies for colluding with one another to rig the bidding process whereby pharmacies decide which company to purchase generic drugs from. The lawsuit alleges that “the companies would work out in advance who would get the lowest price and then the other competitors would put in what they call a cover bid”. These so-called “cover bids” are a way to give the illusion of competitive bidding while, behind the scenes, the companies work out a deal on setting prices, dividing up customers, and staging the bids such that they appear to be making these transactions in a transparent and open marketplace.

The result of this devious and criminal scheming among powerful companies is that average people see a significant increase in their health insurance premiums and their copays, and what little social safety nets we have for the poor and the elderly, Medicare and Medicaid, were forced to overspend dramatically on the drugs. These programs, of course, are tax payer funded, meaning even if you haven’t spent money on premiums or copays in the last 5 to 10 years (which is highly unlikely), your tax dollars still went to line the pockets of criminal corporations.

So far, two executives from Heritage Pharmaceuticals have pleaded guilty to antitrust crimes and are revealing information to prosecutors. Among the revelations unveiled thus far, is the fact that the two executives helped rig prices on a common antibiotic which shot the price of that antibiotic up 8,000 percent. Yes, 8 THOUSAND percent. Imagine a single parent who has a sick child who can barely afford rent and groceries having to pay 8 thousand percent more money for a necessary medication while being clueless to the fact that they are being literally robbed to enrich some of the richest, greediest fucking scumbags on the planet.

But antibiotic medicine is just the tip of the iceberg; the information coming out from the investigation implicates countless other drugs whose prices were also artificially inflated, ranging from diabetes medicine to heart medicine to antidepressants to anti-fungal medication. The full spectrum of these crimes is still being uncovered, but the investigation is also pointing to drug distribution companies, of which there are only three or four large ones, as well; meaning this criminal scheme almost certainly extends well beyond generic drug makers to implicate the entire supply and distribution chain.

But here is the kicker that I want all of you to understand: even if all of this is uncovered, and these companies are found guilty of this horrendous crime, none of them will go to jail. The companies in question will merely have to pay a settlement to the groups and people effected. Now, for those groups and individuals, that’s a nice monetary win, but with companies that make such extreme profits, these settlement pay-outs won’t sink them. They will be right back in their cushy office chairs finding new ways to rob people in no time.
These are the real criminals of our society. These are the people who ruin lives for profit. These are powerful institutions with war-chests of profits who can afford to take these risks because when the house of cards inevitably collapses, and they are found guilty, they never have to worry about being locked in a cage. No, that sort of barbaric punishment is reserved for poor and working people who sell drugs on the street to make ends meet, not the gigantic corporations who sell drugs on the market to make profit.
There are two America’s, and two Justice Systems: one for the rich and powerful, and one for the rest of us.

Beyond that, it’s also an absolute shattering of the absurd capitalist apologia which wants to assert that competition drives down prices and that the free market is the best way to organize and distribute goods and necessities. The last thing these corporations want is competition, and when you get a handful of them together, not unlike getting a handful of Mafia bosses together, they will collude and scheme and divvy up the market amongst themselves to their mutual benefit. These corporations, driven entirely by the incessant thirst for profits at all costs, realize it makes much more sense for all of them to come together and rig the bidding process so that prices across the board go up then it does for them to compete to drive prices down. So I’m sorry, all you little capitalist sycophantic fucks, but just because capitalism looks good on paper doesn’t mean it works in practice…

And finally, it’s worth saying this again and again: get these fucking corporate vampires the fuck out of our healthcare system. Healthcare is a human right, it is not a commodity. People should have access to treatment and medicine regardless of how much money they make, and no one should be able to profit off of human suffering. Socialized healthcare and socialized medicine is the only way to truly stop this criminal bullshit once and for all. And I dream fondly of a day when these corporate executives are stripped of every last penny they have, robbed of their companies and everything they’ve built on the broken down backs of poor and working people, and subjected to the real revolutionary justice they fucking deserve.

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Episode 2: GOP Tax Bill, Net Neutrality, Police Brutality, and The Informal Anarchist Federation

On episode two of The Guillotine, Dr. Bones from the Conjure House and Brett from Revolutionary Left Radio discuss the new GOP tax bill, the FCC decision to dismantle Net Neutrality, the murder of Daniel Shaver and the acquittal of Phillip Brailsford, and the Santiago Maldonado Cell of the Informal Anarchist Federation.

We also take live calls from listeners. 

HERE IS THE EPISODE: http://theguillotinepodcast.libsyn.com/episode-2-gop-tax-bill-net-neutrality-police-brutality-and-the-informal-anarchist-federation

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The Dismantling of Net Neutrality and the Socialist Solution

We are all upset and outraged at the recent dismantling of Net Neutrality; however, it’s essential to understand the broader context within which this attack on the internet is taking place. As neoliberal late capitalism spirals the drain and continues to devour everything in its path, there will be an intensified effort to dismantle and privatize what we call the “commons”: places and resources and institutions that are meant to be accessible to the general public regardless of the amount of money one happens to have in their bank account. This attack on the internet is an attack on the very idea that some things should be free and open to everyone and not privatized and sold back to us at inflated prices in order to increase the profit margins of a handful of already extremely rich and powerful corporations. If we zoom out a bit, we can see this vampiric attack on the commons in many other areas: for example, the Trump administration recently issued an executive order dramatically shrinking the size of two national monuments in Utah, reducing the acreage of protected public land by 80% in one case in order to open them up to drilling by oil and gas companies. From healthcare to prisons to education, we are facing a corporate onslaught from all angles, and working people are being robbed, beaten down, and tossed aside at every turn.

This disgusting excuse for political system has also begun dropping even the *pretense* of democracy and representative republicanism. Over 80% of Americans were opposed to the dismantling of Net Neutrality, and getting 80% of Americans to agree on anything these days is damn near impossible. Additionally, our two “choices” for president, Clinton and Trump, each had Disapproval ratings in the 60-70% range *during the campaign*. And finally, this new GOP tax bill which seeks to transfer 1.5 Trillion dollars away from working Americans and into the pockets of the already extremely rich has only a 30% approval rating from the general population. Yet despite these clear numbers, Net Neutrality was gutted, Trump and Clinton were our choices, and this horrifically cruel GOP tax bill is almost certainly going to be passed into law. We do not live in anything even resembling a democracy, and getting to choose every few years between a handful of representatives of the ruling class doesn’t change that. We live in the Dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, of the capitalist class. They don’t give a fuck what you and I think, they will do whatever they want to do, and we are expected to sit down, shut up, and take it…

But I do not want us merely to despair; if they want a fight, they will get one. And with every sociopathic policy move they make, they stir more and more of us into action. Karl Marx once said that capitalism produces its own gravediggers, and here we all are, with nothing but shovels and plenty of dirt… we weren’t born to bend the knee, we were born to knock off crowns from atop the heads of kings.

And when it comes to the internet, the liberal solution of net neutrality has failed to hold up. Now its time for a socialist solution: if the internet infrastructure is a neutral public carrier of data, then it should be publicly owned by the cities. The internet is a utility, and in this modern world, if you don’t have equal and free access to it, you are at a material disadvantage. Net Neutrality was great, but it wasn’t enough. The internet belongs in the hands of the people; it should be a public utility and access to it should be a protected right. After all, public spending built the internet, capitalists merely sold it back to us at a premium. Its time to get the corporate vampires completely out of the equation and bring the internet under democratic, collective control. That should be our goal, and every move we make in this fight, that goal should be held firmly in our minds. And its not some utopian idea either, its precisely what happened in Chattanooga Tennessee. That mid-sized city, not at all unlike our own, was fed up with private corporation’s inability to provide low cost, high speed access to the internet, so they did it themselves. Now the internet in Chattanooga is democratically owned by the people of that city, costs have gone down, and internet speeds skyrocketed past the speeds offered by the big private corporations.

This fight is just beginning, and as long as we have capitalism, we will have to keep fighting these battles off and on indefinitely. In fact, the very idea of destroying net neutrality in the first place would be inconceivable in a democratic society run by and for regular working people. *Only* in a system where the super rich and private corporations have wildly disproportionate power and influence would this ever even be an issue in the first place. But the single biggest blow we could hit them with would be to respond to this assault on the commons by wrenching their greedy, blood stained fingers off our internet and taking back what is rightfully ours. In order to do this, we have to organize here in Omaha, put massive pressure on our local representatives, and normalize this idea within our social circles as well as online. Let people know that a better way of doing things is a possibility, and then fight like hell to make it a reality.

We live in an uncertain time; the 21st century is perhaps the largest and most important crossroads in the history of our species. The class war is being intensified on every front and from every direction. What we need now more than ever is a national working class movement that can rise to the challenges of our time and fight back against the blood-soaked corporate and imperialist monsters who wish to plunder and loot every corner of this planet.

Time is running out, and our choice, in the words of the great revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, is clearer today than its ever been: Socialism or Barbarism.

From Diplomat to Anarchist: The State, War, and the Fight for a Better World

Carne Ross is a former British diplomat, and Middle East and WMD expert, who resigned in 2004 after giving then-secret evidence to a British inquiry into the Iraq war. 

After he quit, he founded the world’s first non-profit diplomatic advisory group, Independent Diplomat, which advises democratic countries and political movements around the world. In 2007, his critique of contemporary diplomacy was published: “Independent Diplomat: Dispatches from an Unaccountable Elite”.  
Carne is now an outspoken anarchist, and in this episode he sits down with Brett to discuss The State and Anarchism.

Topics Include: Thomas Hobbes, the Social Contract theorists, moral culpability as agents of the State, the Iraq War, spontaneous mutual aid, the Rojavan Revolution, Participatory Budgeting, Emma Goldman, and much, much more.


HERE IS THE EPISODE: http://revolutionaryleftradio.libsyn.com/from-diplomat-to-anarchist-the-state-war-and-the-fight-for-a-better-world-0

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You can find Carne Ross’s work here: http://www.carneross.com
You can see more about Independent Diplomat here: www.independentdiplomat.org

Follow Carne on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/carneross?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.carneross.com%2F

Outro Music by QELD, you can find their music, and support them here: https://qeld.bandcamp.com

Follow Bob Savage from QELD on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/bobbynechayev?lang=en

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Intro Music by The String-Bo String Duo, you can find their music here: https://tsbsd.bandcamp.com/releases

Donate to Revolutionary Left Radio’s Patreon, and help us to continue putting out high quality content, here: https://www.patreon.com/RevLeftRadio

This Podcast is officially affiliated with The Nebraska Left Coalition and the Omaha GDC. 

The Gender Dialectic: Women Taking a Stand Against ‘Mad Men’ in the Age of Trump

Something is happening in our culture; something important and good and cathartic, and although its been LONG overdue, its better late than never. And that something is the public calling out and purging of powerful men in our society who sexually harass, intimidate, and assault women. Many Americans naively assume that the days of Mad Men are long gone, and that women aren’t treated as poorly as they used to be; but that’s a lie, and now we are starting to see the deep and toxic strains of sexism, misogyny, and the leveraging of male power to fulfill male sexual desires at the expense of women being rooted out. For millennia women have been violently stripped of their emotional well-being, of their physical safety, of their bodily autonomy, and of their professional and personal dreams. That horrific patriarchal nightmare still infects our society at every level, and countless women have been, and continue to be, victimized, denigrated, mocked, shouted down, and destroyed. And although that horrific legacy is nowhere near being fully over, whats happening in our society right now is surely an important and necessary step in that general direction.

Let’s review some of the biggest names to have been called out recently, and lets name, systematically, their disgusting fucking behavior. But before we do, I want to issue a gentle warning to anyone who might not want to be confronted with the details of sexual assault and violence against women. If you are not comfortable with having to listen to these things, please step away for a few minutes.

Okay, let’s start:

Harvey Weinstein, the famous film producer and executive, and giant human toad, recently saw his career burn to the ground after three decades of harassment, intimidation, and horrendous sexual assault, including numerous accusations of rape. He leveraged his power as someone who can make or break careers to coerce and force women to perform a whole slew of sexual acts for him. A rich, pampered piece of shit who lives a life of extreme luxury and for decades lived that life completely free of any sort of consequences for his behavior, in fact he amassed huge amounts of money and fame even as he victimized countless women and even as hundreds of people in that community knew about what he was doing.

Next:

George H.W. Bush Sr., the ex-head of the criminal CIA and 41st president of the most destructive, evil empire to ever have existed, has been accused by at least 8 women of groping them. George leveraged his power as president of the United States to touch women’s bodies and private parts without their consent, and he and his team have since attempted to dismiss these charges by saying: “’At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures. To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — a joke about his favorite magician being David Cop-A-Feel — and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.” And therein lies the delusion of the male chauvinist mindset: non-consensually grabbing a woman’s private part is conflated with merely being “good natured”.

Up Next:

Roy Moore, Former Alabama chief justice and current U.S. Senate candidate, is someone with deep ties to white nationalist and neo-confederate organizations, was a leading proponent of the Birther Conspiracy, and is, of course, a self-proclaimed Christian man of God. The primary allegations against him are a slew of charges ranging from creepy to criminal. Roy Moore, for decades, was known to target, harass, and hit on high school girls, some as young as 14. He was actually banned from a local mall because he would continuously go there to attempt to pick up teenage girls, even when he was well into his 30’s. He’s been accused of groping women, forcing himself onto them, and even one time called the local high school and asked for a student in order to ask her out on a date. When Sean Hannity, a truly despicable right wing talk show host, asked Moore about the allegations, he said “”I don’t remember dating any girl without the permission of her mother.” Moore is still in the race for a senate seat in Alabama, and many prominent right wing pundits, activists, and politicians have remained loyal to Moore, some have even used bible verses that refer to older men dating children as a way to defend Moore’s behavior.

Other famous men recently called out include the comedian Louis CK, who leveraged his position as a well-known comic to repeatedly pull out his penis and masturbate in front of women without their consent, House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey, who has been accused of groping and sexually assaulting young men, some as young as 14, the actor Dustin Hoffman has been accused of groping and assaulting a 17 year old actress on the set of a TV film of Death of a Salesman in 1985. Others include Bill Clinton, accused for decades of a slew of sexual assaults, Bill Cosby, a rapist who would drug women and assault them, and Donald Trump, the president of the United States of America, who has been accused by well over a dozen women of harassing, groping and assaulting them, and who, as we all know, admitted on camera to grabbing women’s genitalia without their consent because, and I quote, “when you are a star, they let you do anything”. And that sums it up, doesn’t it?

But before I end here, I want to make an appeal to men out there listening right now. This is OUR problem. This is something we ALL have culpability in, and something we ALL have an obligation to address; in ourselves, in our friends, in our family members, in our co-workers, and in our communities. None of us are totally free of blame; and while I desperately hope no one that listens to this show has ever actively engaged in sexual assault or violence against women (and if you have, fuck off, you are no comrade of mine), but all of us, at some point in our lives, have certainly used sexist language, have treated women poorly, have let harmful behavior by our friends go unchallenged, etc. It is our responsibility, as liberationists and as human beings, to do better; to root out and kill the male chauvinist in our minds, to counter the denigration and objectification of women in our culture, to listen to women and to defend them, to speak out loudly and unapologetically against rape culture, against all forms of misogyny, and against violence against women. It’s worth noting and reflecting on the fact that EVERY. SINGLE. WOMAN. in my life, from my mother to my sister to my partner to virtually every single one of my exs and female friends have, in some form or another, been sexually harassed, sexually assaulted, or have been the victim of domestic violence. If it’s true for me and all the people I know, I can guarantee it’s true for all of you, too.

Enough is enough.

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Transcribed from “The Guillotine”, a revolutionary leftist podcast covering global news and current events. You can find the full episode here: http://theguillotinepodcast.libsyn.com/episode-1-fascism-libya-sexism-and-j20

NEW PODCAST: The Guillotine, Ep 1

We are introducing the first episode of a brand new spin-off podcast called The Guillotine. Brett from Revolutionary Left Radio and Dr. Bones from The Conjure House host this brand new show that covers current news around the world from a revolutionary communist and anarchist perspective and that has live call-ins from listeners.

This being our first episode ever, we had some kinks to work out and could not live stream it. However, in the future, all episodes will be live streamed as well as published through our podcast hosting site, so you can listen to the new show live and call in to talk to us; and you can also listen to the polished version a few days later on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.

HERE IS THE EPISODE: http://theguillotinepodcast.libsyn.com/episode-1-fascism-libya-sexism-and-j20

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Our intro music is “Our Words” off the album “Nihilismo” by Sole and DJ Pain 1, you can find their music here: https://sole.bandcamp.com/album/sole-dj-pain-1-nihilismo

Our transition music between segments was a created by our comrade Ethan S., you can find that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVEXA_RR1sA

Out outro music is “The Guillotine” by The String-Bo String Duo, you can find their music here: https://tsbsd.bandcamp.com/releases 

Appalachia: Class Struggle In Coal Country

Brett sits down with revolutionary organizer and Appalachian local Nic Smith to talk about the Appalachian working class and its history of class struggle.
Topics include: Radical unionism, the history of the region, Trump, liberalism’s failures and socialism’s hopes, stereotypes about Appalachians, the need for a true working class party, and much more!
 

HERE IS THE INTERVIEW: http://revolutionaryleftradio.libsyn.com/appalachia-class-struggle-in-coal-country

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**Please take the time to rate and leave a review on iTunes! This will help expand our overall reach.**
 
Random Song of The Week From Friends:
Featured as the outro music From The Window On A Train – Jack Hotel

Organizations affiliated with the podcast:
Omaha GDC
NLC