Saturday, June 23, 2007


In this movie Michael Moore does just what he has done in the past, only better. He presents a very, _very_ simple point that most Americans agree with.

Actually, several very simple points. It's wrong to let people die or suffer because they are poor, or because they are uninsured. It's wrong for insurance companies to hire people whose sole job is to find excuses to deny coverage to people who _are_ insured, or at least who had believed themselves to be insured, till they got screwed out of coverage by their insurance company. It's wrong for people to lose their homes because of medical bills. It's wrong for the richest country in the world give 50 million uninsured people rotten medical care, or none, and simply throw them to the wolves when it comes to illness. It's wrong for hospitals to dump a confused and indigent patient, barefooted and wearing a hospital gown, on a Los Angeles skid row because the woman had no insurance. You see her wander around, dazed, in the street, after being put out of the taxi--all captured by a security surveillance camera. It's a pretty strong image.

And it's wrong for us to spend twice as much per capita on medical care as any country in the world, apparently to have that spending go to profits for insurance companies rather than treatment of illness--such that we are 37th in the world in the overall quality of our medical care.

Because Moore presents things very simply, and powerfully, he places those who disagree in the position of having to excuse obvious inequities, iniquities, and injustices, as well as outright medical atrocities like having to decide which finger you want to save, of two you have sliced off, based on the size of your savings account.

The more complex and convoluted the apologies for this sort of thing are, the deeper the hole the apologists dig for themselves.

He's unfair, of course. What he does is something the right wing has always done, and always been good at, but which they do in a much more dishonest way. Given that the Right thinks of their kulturkampf as a war, not a discussion, Moore presumably believes he is justified in coming back at them in the same way. It's kinda refreshing, if you believe in his message, to see a man of the left being both unfair and really effective.

But the Cuba business was probably a mistake, because it gives the Right an opening to change the subject. Alas, Moore can never resist a stunt. Fox News has already referred to the treatment Moore's sick people got in Cuba as Potemkin medical care. But the damage Moore does to himself here is confined to people who do not see the film. Those who do see it will still agree with Moore's basic points even if they suspect that the Cuban medical care shown was more than what an ordinary Cuban would get. The trouble is, a lot of people will not see the movie, and will get their review of it not from me, or someone like me, but from Fox and Rush Limbaugh.

In any case, Moore is not at all unfair, and is not pulling a stunt, when he compares Canadian, British, and French medical care with our own. At least half the movie is a demolition of the claims right wing propagandists have made for half a century about medical care in these three countries. In one nighttime sequence he goes on house calls with a French doctor. House calls. The French spend _half_ as much as we do on medical care, pay their doctors very well, have better medical outcomes, and can still afford to pay doctors to visit patients in their houses!

When was the last time a doctor came to your house?

How can a right winger argue with this? Only by changing the subject, preferably to something about Cuba. Even that is dangerous. Cuba is a third world country that has been subjected to a severe embargo for 40 some-odd years. Whether Moore's sick people got Potemkin medical care or not, ordinary Cubans do live as long as we do, and more Cuban babies survive infancy than American babies. Overall, Cuban medicine is ranked 39th in the world, slightly behind us. Remember, we are number 37, although, as some of us are fond of saying, we are the richest country on the planet.

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