I received an email from my good friend Tom regarding the new movie Sicko.
I watched Sicko earlier today; it was really illuminating (and sad). Have you heard of it? It’s Michael Moore’s new piece about the health care industry in the US.
Yes, I know how you feel about him. Yes, he uses a lot of his usual antics and rhetoric. Yes, you will likely find some and perhaps even most of them irritating.
With all of that said, there is a one big shock: for the most part he is fair and non-partisan, perhaps for the first time ever. He mostly avoids partisan issues, choosing to focus his attention elsewhere, but, being Moore, he of course can’t resist a few digs, especially against politicians bought too easily (and cheaply) by lobbyists. But, believe it or not, one of those receiving the harshest smack-down is his previously beloved Hillary. Apparently, hell has frozen over. Or maybe Moore has finally sobered up and looked around. (I confess while finding Hillary irritating and irksome at times, I once admired certain aspects of her platform long ago– especially regarding health care reform– but I feel she has long since lost her way).
The movie unabashedly makes a case for socialized health care, so you deserve to know that in advance, since I have gathered you are opposed to it. With that said, I hope you might be willing to watch the movie regardless. If nothing else, it pays to know what your enemies are up to.
The movie opens next Friday, and I am seriously considering footing the bill for anyone who wants to see it.*
I will likely see it and you are invited, although I suspect your interest might be limited because it’s a Moore film. If so, I cannot entirely fault you for that–his usual antics are on full display, and while I find a lot of his orneriness amusing, I well understand you and many others find his antics (and him) obnoxious. These days, I think many perceive Moore as more of an entertainer that panders to the left than as a bona fide journalist. I would, in fact, largely agree with this assessment.
Consequently, in many ways I wish someone else had made this film, because the issues it raises are important for everyone, regardless of which way a person leans politically. The whole nation needs to be having some sort of dialogue about these issues, and Moore is so thoroughly branded as a left-winger (or maybe even as a left-wingnut?) that I think the fact his name is attached to the movie will just polarize the issue politically, which would be a shame. Health care reform deserves bipartisan discussion and support–as a nation, we have got to transcend political differences on this issue. I can tell you firsthand that the current system destroys families and lives in a brutal and vicious way.
Too many people will miss this documentary because of who made it, and that is a shame and makes me wish almost anyone else had filmed it. But, with that said, I am glad that at least someone made this movie, even if it had to be done by Moore.
One of the earliest free health care demagogues was Huey Long. Louisiana used to have charity hospitals all over the state, with 14 in New Orleans alone. During the last oil boom of the ’70s (during stagflation for the rest of the country) Louisiana was hopping. Without fail following an increase in oil prices Louisiana would elect a Huey Long style populist that demanded more money for charity hospitals. Even before Katrina the charity hospitals in Louisiana had conditions that were similar to that of the VA system in Washington D.C.
Now, the new populism advocates not for free health care (the results of which is plain to see in Sicko), but free health insurance for all. Somehow this will equate to Doctors not making mistakes or shortening ER lines.
If some health care socialization bill passes I’ll be ok, I can always bolt-hole to Taiwan. They have universal health care, but not the entitlement mindset found here, Canada, Western Europe (yet). Doctors there see 4X the patients and get 1/4 the pay as American doctors. Universal health care didn’t improve things there (the health care system was good already), but it did ratchet up the burden on the doctors I know there.
There is a long list of things the government is in charge of that are run inefficiently, and quite horribly. Public Schools and VA hospitals are two examples I can think of right quickly.
Just because something works for a small, homogenous western European nation doesn’t mean it will work here. Watch and see as those countries become less homogenous (via low birthrates and high immigration), as socialism as risk aversion (between homogenous classes and ethnicities) gives way to socialism as redistribution (from wealthy natives to poor African and Middle Eastern immigrants), you will soon see a change in policy there. The French electorate recently, and overwhelmingly, rejected the nanny state socialism Moore adores. As such, the French are so entrenched in the welfare state it will be hard to reverse course for a while.
And don’t get me started on Britain. They recently passed a law allowing citizens to go to other countries to receive health care on the government dime, acknowledging the severe limitations of their own impoverished system.
In Canada a citizen needed a Supreme Court ruling to allow a citizen to pay out of pocket for health care expenses. A single payer program would provide this kind of monopsony power to our federal government.
So, I’ll spare myself the anecdotal demagoguery this go ’round. There was a time when Huey Long/FDR style populism was what the doctor ordered. I don’t think that is the case today.
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