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Michael Moore is back with this documentary on the American health care system. He talks about some of the failures of the American system by focusing on a few people who have been very deeply harmed--ranging from claims denial and bankruptcy all the way to loss of life due to a denial of service. And these are people who are insured.

He then takes a highlights tour of the Canadian, British, and French healthcare systems, pointing out the positives of each. For example, they are "free" in the sense that the healthcare bill is paid by taxes rather than insurance companies. In a London hospital, the only job of the "cashier" is to dispense money to those who need to pay for a ride home!

Finally, Moore takes a bunch of people from the first part (a mixture of people who were generally screwed over along with a few 9-11 rescue workers) to Cuba, where they get free healthcare.

What I Thought

What a crock.

Maybe I'm giving Michael Moore too much credit. After all, given how polarizing he is these days, is he really going to change any minds? People who like him and agree with his general message are extreme lefty liberals, and I bet most righty conservatives won't see his movie anyway. And I hope the rest of the people in the middle have enough brains to see through this movie. So it's not as if there's THAT much he could do to change people’s minds on healthcare.

But I repeat: what a crock. What a load of self-serving horse hooey not worth a pair of dingo's kidneys.

I'm referring, of course, to the "story" Moore is trying to tell (yes, even documentaries have a narrative arc). What do I mean by that. Well, if you were an honest blank slate, you'd come out of this movie with these two basic ideas:

1) The US has a truly horrendous healthcare system filled with evil HMO's and conniving drug companies who conspire to wring the last dime off the backs of honest workers. Never mind how they've paid off the government to be a willing participant in the selling out of the American people.

2) Canada, England, France, and even Cuba have wonderful and trouble-free healthcare systems towards which we should all aspire to. If only we could import Cuba's or France's healthcare system to the U.S., we'd fix everything!

Now, don't get me wrong. I firmly believe it is a moral right (especially of the most powerful and richest country in the history of the world!) for the U.S. to provide free healthcare to all it's citizens and to make sure doctors and hospitals are fairly compensated for their procedures. Whether it's through extending Medicare to all, creating a single-payer system, or whatever else, it is a moral right. After all, we already do this with public education, public libraries, public and national safety (firemen, policemen, armed forces), and other functions.

But blindly whitewashing the many problems Canadian/British/French/Cuban systems gives the moviegoer a biased and unfair slant. He doesn't honestly address the question of taxes, the social atmosphere and general "way of life" in these countries, or the quality of healthcare. Emergency room care in Canada may be top-notch, but how about acute care? How long do cancer patients have to wait for chemo? How long for life-saving surgery?

Living in the proudly blue-state, lefty, godless Sodom & Gomorrah state of Massachusetts, I wish Moore would have put forth a true conservative and moral message of helping our fellow humans at their lowest by addressing some of these real problems of foreign healthcare systems. Instead, all we get is pedestal on top of pedestal, with the foreign systems firmly placed on top.

But that's not all folks. The very lowest Moore sinks is when he takes a bunch of sick people, including 9-11 rescue workers first to Guantanamo (where he bullhorns "we have 9-11 rescue workers, all we want is the same healthcare the terrorists inside are getting!") and then into the Cuban healthcare system where they get beatifically smiling doctors who treat them all, and for free!

It's great these people got what they needed. It's very sad that Moore was blatantly used for propaganda purposes. While he was too blind to see it, everyone in my theatre groaned out loud when the inevitable heal-the-people montage played to bad music.

I recently listened to an NPR show (On Point with Tom Ashbrook) about Moore's film and healthcare in general. It was telling that the actual debate by the experts on the panel pretty much ignored the film and used the mere existence of the film as a jumping off point. And that sums it up in a nutshell: a load of crock. Let's just hope even a load of crock can begin a real debate and real change.


All photos and text copyright Ryszard Kilarski, unless otherwise noted. Clip art, drawings, paintings are either free domain or copyrighted by the artists.