[Plura-list] Big Pharma will claim opioid fines as tax-deductions

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Sun Feb 14 10:39:52 EST 2021


This weekend, I'm participating in Boskone 58, Boston's annual sf


My panels today are "The Virtual Future of Reality" (1130h Pac) and "How
Disasters End" (13h Pac).


Today's links

* Big Pharma will claim opioid fines as tax-deductions: A fine is a
price...the price of doing business.

* This day in history: 2006

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current
writing projects, current reading


🐩 Big Pharma will claim opioid fines as tax-deductions

Say it with me now: a fine is a price. When companies profit from
inflicting harm on the rest of us, a fine is just part of the price of
doing business.

It's a numbers game: multiply the likelihood of getting caught by the
expected fine and divide by the expected profit, and that's how many
people you can murder for a buck.

Like the pharma companies, who used opioids to slaughtermore Americans
than the Vietnam war.

These companies bribed doctors and pharmacists, lied about the science
of addiction, lied about the deaths, lied about their products'
efficacy, lied about the harm. The corpses piled higher and higher. They
made billions. Billions and billions.

Four of the worst culprits - Johnson & Johnson, Amerisourcebergen,
McKesson and Cardinal Health - agreed to pay $26b for the people they
killed and the lives they ruined - and now they've advised investors
that they plan on claiming the fines as tax-deductions.

Literally, a fine is a price - the price of doing business, claimable
against profits on the companies' annual IRS filings, so that the public
subsidizes their extremely profitable murder.


The companies were allowed to take these settlements without admitting
wrongdoing. This is a common efficiency measure employed by federal
regulators and prosecutors to secure a quick settlement rather than a
drawn-out court battle.


Criminal cases that end with the accused coping a plea aren't unique to
corporate murder, of course - more than 97% of people indicted for
federal crimes plea bargain, proving that prosecutors are either psychic
and only indict the guilty, or that the system is rigged.

But it's not just rigged to force everyday people who fall under the
law's baleful glare to plead guilty irrespective of the truth - it's
also rigged to allow giant corporations to walk away from their crimes
without admitting their guilt (again, irrespective of the truth).

The lack of culpability is a distinction with a difference. Companies
aren't permitted to write off fines, but the pharma giants say this
isn't a fine, it's a payout to the victims - effectively a charitable
donation. Since they committed no crime, it can't be a fine.

It may seem obvious, but when corporate murderers aren't held to
account, they get to go on doing their business as if they weren't pariahs.

So the same companies claiming billions in writeoffs for opioid
settlements also pulled in billions in tax subsidies under the CARES
Act, even as they made billions in profits from that same pandemic.
Heads they win, tails we lose.

40% of Americans say they won't, or probably won't, get vaccinated
against covid. They often cite outlandish stories about microchips in
the vaccines (speaking as a computer scientist, I'd like to study those
chips and their antennas and power-supplies, wow!) .

They believe weird tales about sinister plans from Bill Gates.


These stories don't hold up to scrutiny, and the people who argue for
them say obviously outlandish things, and yet the number of people who
believe them  is frightening.

Then there's everyone who isn't worried about microchips or Bill Gates,
but thinks the pharma companies would cheerfully kill them for a buck
with untested, potentially deadly products, and that the regulators we
hope will protect us from bad science will turn a blind eye.

While the microchips story is far more outlandish than the mistrust one,
both of them share the same epistemological foundation: that the
official truth can't be trusted because the process by which it is
arrived at has been corrupted by corporate power.

Who can deny this? We know for a fact that the pharma companies
conspired to murder us, that their regulators let them do it, and that
they got away with fines that totalled less than they earned from their
murders, and now they're going to write off their fines.

And it's a fact that Bill Gates has done some pretty sinister stuff in
his day, and he got away with it, too - his billions originate with the
creation of a giant, rapacious monopoly that ruined lives and gouged the
public to reward its shareholders, Gates chief among them.

The tale that Gates retired from monopolising and became a cuddly
humanitarian doesn't bear up to scrutiny. Sure, some great stuff that
comes out of the Gates Foundation, but let's not forget the billions
they've funnelled to ending public education:


Gates and other billionaire dilettantes turned America's poorest
children into guinea pigs for an failed experiment in charter education,
while waging war on teachers' unions:


Gates's extreme ideology of private profit over public benefit played a
toxic role in covid vaccine development - just not a role that has
anything to do with microchips.

Rather, it was the Gates Foundation that arm-twisted Oxford into
abandoning its pledge to make its vaccine free for all to produce.
Instead, it sold exclusive rights to its publicly funded vaccines to


The Gates Foundation ensured that a giant pharma monopolist would reap
billions, and Oxford millions - and that the world's poorest nations
would lose guaranteed access to locally produced vaccines.

It's irrational to worry about microchips in vaccines, but it's 100%
rational to worry that pharma companies will privatize every gain and
socialize every loss, even loss of life. From Moderna to Astrazeneca,
Big Pharma turns public research into private billions.

And it's irrational to worry that Bill Gates wants to use vaccines to
reduce the population or track us with 5G, but it's 100% rational to
worry that he is a sociopathic ideologue whose philanthropy exists in
part to further his extremist agenda.

Telling people to "trust the science" isn't just flawed because the
science is a moving target - it's flawed because the science is often
corrupted, and even when they corruption comes to light, the penalties
are tax-deductible.


🐩 This day in history

#15yrsago Princeton DRM researchers release Sony debacle paper

#15yrsago Bruce Sterling on Sony DRM debacle


🐩 Colophon

Currently writing:

* My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and
reconciliation. Friday's progress: 514 words (110389 total).

* A short story, "Jeffty is Five," for The Last Dangerous Visions.
Friday's progress: 251 words (5077 total).

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 30)

Upcoming appearances:

* Boskone, 58, Feb 12-15, https://boskone.org/

* Keynote, NISO Plus, Feb 22,

* Technology, Self-Determination, and the Future of the Future (Purdue
CERIAS), Feb 17,

*  Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Contemporary Political Struggle: Social
Movements, Social Surveillance, Social Media (with Zeynep Tufekci), Feb
24, https://ucdavis.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_I99f4x8WRiKCfKUljVcYPg

* World Ethical Data Forum keynote, Mar 17-19,

* Interop: Self-Determination vs Dystopia (FITC), Apr 19-21,

Recent appearances:

* Chop Shop Economics

* Monocle Reads

* Hedging Bets on the Future (Motherboard Cyber):

Latest book:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone
technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political
cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution
and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet
analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a
(print edition:

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

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