Murder is a harsh word
So, let’s define it so we’re all on the same page: the unlawful, premeditated killing of a human being by a human being.
What the Sacklers did in the operation of Purdue Pharma was certainly unlawful. They have confessed to as much. Premeditated, there is little doubt, as they knew OxyContin, their opioid pain relief drug, was killing addicts for the decades they produced it. That’s strike two.
Strike three (you’re out) is that Purdue is a corporation entirely owned by the Sacklers and, as we now know, the Supreme Court has equated corporations with ‘people.’ All Sacklers currently fill that definition, even though they are people we would hardly want to know. In fact they have moved out of New York City society for Florida, as none of their billionaire class seem anxious to come to their parties or attend charity events in their company.
Even New York socialites turned on the Sacklers
Fickle those good time friends when the times turn nasty. And the times certainly have turned nasty for these scions of New York Society, but I would argue not anywhere near nasty enough. Although significant accessories to the unlawful and premeditated death of over 400,000 fellow Americans, none of the various attorneys general seem to be after anything but money.
A typical money settlement with no jail time
How very American. In October 2020, Purdue agreed to an $8 billion settlement, including $2 billion in criminal forfeiture, a $3.54 billion criminal fine, and $2.8 billion in damages for its civil liability. It will plead guilty to three criminal charges. The word ‘criminal’ is kicked around numerous times in these various findings and apparent ‘settlements,’ but ‘murder’ remains unmentioned.
We Americans don’t generally put the super wealthy away in the pokey for major assaults on either the public purse or the public wellbeing. It just seems so low class to exchange formal wear for prison garb. That’s for those ‘other’ people. As mentioned by Anatole France, somewhat over a hundred years ago, “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”
We are not so asleep as to miss the irony
Bernie Abramoff got 150 years in prison and forfeiture of all his assets for a Ponzi scheme that cost investor’s money—but no lives were taken in the crime. Fair Wayne Bryant, a 63 year-old shining example of what’s not fair was sentenced in 2005 to life in prison for stealing a pair of hedge clippers. Spoiler alert: Bryant is black.
Not to wander too far from our subject at hand.
The Sacklers are accessories to the purposeful (for their private fortunes) murder of thousands, perhaps tens of thousands or possibly hundreds of thousands of their pain stricken fellow citizens. They pocketed their money and provided addiction and death in return. We continue to lose 100 a day from opioids.
You qualify as an accessory if you drive the getaway car, provide the murder weapon or simply know the crime is going to be committed and fail to report it. All more serious than Ponzi schemes or hedge clippers and no one I know of in the Sackler family is hiring their tailor to run up custom fitted prison garb.
Turning human catastrophe into a news event
Soviet Dictator Joseph Stalin, gone these 67 years, is memorable to me for saying, “the death of a single person is a catastrophe, the death of a hundred thousand is a news event.” The Sacklers are trying by payoff to turn their catastrophe into a news event.
It’s highly likely they will be successful. That’s what the moneyed crowd does.
Golden rule – if you have the gold, you make the rules
With the current settlement awaiting signatures, the Sacklers will have killed a whole bunch of people and gotten away with it. The family sock-drawer will remain lined with 13-15 billion dollars, no one will pay much attention with a national election ten days away and once ‘the heat is off,’ as Al Capone used to say, they’ll limp back from Florida to the bright lights and glamour of NYC. Donald Trump may be there as well, should he be retired from his current position.
Then they can all get back to partying.
Alternatively, as would apply to you or me, a Grand Jury should be called, indictments declared and a jury of their peers (if such can be found) selected to pass judgement. This is not ‘white collar crime.’ What we are witnessing is ‘white collar murder’ and the murderers are walking free without trial. At least O.J. Simpson was tried for murder. Found not guilty, but we know he was a killer. At the very least, the Sackler family (or individuals therein) should face the rigors of an equally public trial.
Murder it was–murder it continues to be.