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The Expansionist
Friday, July 06, 2007
Sicko. I saw Michael Moore's latest documentary/advocacy film, Sicko, with two friends on July 4th. All three of us are all in favor of universal healthcare for the United States, and were indignant at the problems it showed that Americans have with healthcare, in this richest of all countries. Today, the Internet poll on iWon.com asked about reforming our healthcare system.

Survey for Fri, Jul 6, 2007
Health Care Reform

Filmmaker Michael Moore's documentary on the US health care system "Sicko" opened last weekend ....

Do you think that the US health care system needs to be reformed?

65% - Yes, absolutely
23% - Yes, somewhat
8% - No, not really
3% - I don't know

Online polls are not scientific nor random-sampled, so may vary somewhat from a more controlled poll, but in this case the results seem approximately right. Can Congress and the President long continue to refuse the will of the people to move this country to the kind of simple, single-payer, universal-healthcare system in place in Canada, Britain, and France, all of which Moore's film showed to work brilliantly?
Are there problems in healthcare in any of the industrialized countries with single-payer plans? Sure. Sometimes people have to wait for some procedures that require the most expensive and most modern equipment, because to control costs, the number of such machines bought is lower than 'ideal'. But if a large proportion of the people in this country who could benefit from such equipment can't afford the procedure, what difference does it make that we have machines aplenty? Canada has delays; we have denials. Which would you prefer if you needed an MRI: waiting a bit to get it, or not ever getting it at all?
Moore made the wholly appropriate comparison of governmentally funded healthcare to governmental fire departments, schools, and public libraries. (Indeed, he showed the sign outside the East Rutherford public library, not 8 miles from where we sat.)
Moore's lite tone belies the gravity of the situation. Americans are dying and being permanently disabled only because we don't have universal healthcare. I myself am permanently crippled because I could not afford to have knee surgery right after an accident. When I finally secured medical insurance, the surgery I was then able to get could effect only an incomplete repair, because needed tissues had atrophied. This happens hundreds of thousands of times a year, and millions of Americans die or live poorer lives, and are impaired in their ability to pull their own weight and contribute to society — has anyone measured that cost? — merely because the rich don't want to pay higher taxes so that everyone has the quality care the rich themselves get. The rich of the United States would literally prefer — far prefer — that the poor and middle class die or be wretchedly crippled for life than that they have to pay higher taxes. Too many of the rich of this country are so evil that they cannot appreciate the wonderful lives they have unless other people are miserable. But how have they managed to persuade even 8% of Americans that our present nitemare of a healthcare system is perfect just as it is? Or are those 8% the rich and the rich-wannabes who aspire to look down upon the poor from heights too great to see crippling health issues?
This is why I'd like us to erect a monumental sculpture of a guillotine, say 60 feet tall, right in the middle of the Mall in Washington, DC, as a reminder to the rich and powerful of what can happen when they trample the poor for too long, too callously.
The name of the film should, however, not be the too-playful Sicko. It should be Shame. Because that's what it inspires. To see it on July 4th made me especially ashamed.
I fervently hope that enuf Americans will see this film and become so ashamed that they demand the Congress and President redeem the honor of the American people by instituting universal healthcare as fast as possible. If Republicans are smart, they will get this done before the elections of 2008, because if they resist, the Democrats will be able to smash them into minor-party status under the weight of a landslide unlike anything they have ever seen.
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 3,592 — for Israel.)

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