I’ll give Michael Moore his due: every one of his movies manages to spike my blood pressure. His latest effort–“Sicko”–is no exception.
Having trained his smart-ass cannon on President Bush and the Iraq War (“Fahrenheit 911”) and guns (“Bowling for Columbine”), this time Moore is after our country’s awful healthcare. Rumor has it that his next documentary will be either the disaster that is big city rush hour traffic or the TV show “What About Jim?”
The approach here is familiar. Anecdotal evidence extrapolated to a general proposition. The anecdotes are doozies: one poor dude had to choose whether to spend $12,000 to sew back his index finger or $20,000 for his middle finger after an industrial accident because he couldn’t afford both. Another poor lady has her medical benefits reimbursement check stopped because she had previously suffered an undisclosed yeast infection. And then there’s the scene where a disoriented homeless woman is dumped by the hospital outside an overcrowded homeless shelter. Moore seems to be arguing that many Americans receive really poor health care and get jacked around by hospitals and HMO’s who are motivated by greed. As we lawyers sometimes say “so stipulated, your honor”. Moore uses these personal stories very effectively to make the case that it just ain’t right. It makes me mad.
But then Moore takes us to Canada, France and lastly Cuba to make the case that these countries have much better universal healthcare. I found myself whispering a bit too loudly to Marsha that I had read a poll that said 85 percent of the French felt their country was heading down hill and wondered how all those Muslim immigrants that burned down Paris’s suburbs felt about French healthcare. And then there was the 15,000 most elderly patients that had died in French hospitals in the summer of 2003. Cuba? The socialist island where the newest car is a 1954 Buick. Moore shows a bunch of 9/11 New York rescue workers who received poor or no care from the U.S. system being treated like Fidel when accompanied by Moore to Cuba for treatment. I’m glad they received better treatment, but somehow I just don’t believe that the next time Moore has a serious health problem he hops the plane for Havana.
All that said, surely the pharmaceutical companies, HMO’s, Congress and the AMA need a good smack upside their corporate heads, and Michael Moore does the smacking in “Sicko.” He’s a provocateur, an egomaniac and a grand-stander, but the way he skewers the power elite is down right artistic. Now no one would ever cite Michael Moore to support a serious argument on anything, any more than you would Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. All three are brands more interested in selling books, movies, tapes and personal appearances than presenting the truth.
On the other hand, with 40 million of our citizens uninsured and people choosing between medicine and food, something needs to be done. Hopefully, a movie like “Sicko” can speed things up just a bit.