June 28, 2007, - 5:26 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Watching the new Michael Moore propagand-umentary “Sicko” (in theaters Friday), I was reminded of my 1997 encounter with the flabulous filmmaker.
In 1997, Moore insisted on sitting next to me at a Detroit-area screening of his second major documentary, “The Big One.” Moore mentioned my early ’90s one-vote loss in a race for the Michigan House of Representatives in his best-selling book, “Downsize This!” on which the movie was based. And a mutual friend of ours invited me to the small screening.
“I want to see the reaction of a Republican,” Moore said as he sat down next to me. Like most of Moore’s movies, the anti-corporate movie was clever and entertaining, while full of propaganda and completely misleading.
After the screening, I told Moore that I thought it he was a hypocrite to be so critical of corporate welfare in America (a point on which I happen to agree with him), while at the same time he was touting a Detroit Tigers hat and an L.A. Lakers T-shirt. Sports teams, as I pointed out, are among the biggest, most undeserving recipients of government-doled corporate welfare. And off the field, I told him, they produce the fewest, least stable market-wage jobs.
You’re right. What can I say? I’m a hypocrite. Who says I’m consistent?
Since the past several years have brought forth both press reports and personal anecdotes by former Michael Moore employees of unpaid overtime, low wages, and lack of appropriate benefits and healthcare given by their employer (Mr. Moore), I couldn’t help but think throughout watching “Sicko” of Moore’s convenient response:
You’re right. What can I say? I’m a hypocrite. Who says I’m consistent?
Exactly. And that’s a major problem with “Sicko” . . . and with everything else Moore does. Do as I say, not as I do. I refuse to live like that, but I know what’s best for you.
Yes, the stories of Health Maintenance Organizations denying reasonable care to paying customers are outrageous and heartbreaking (though many of the cases and Congressional testimony he shows are over a decade old). But Moore touts socialized medicine, as if it is somehow different. What he fails to realize is that HMOs are, in fact, socialized medicine.
Moore denounces those of us who are against this failed Communist approach to healthcare, when he’s also denouncing the closest manifestation of it we have here: “managed care.” Middle-men at insurance companies–with complete federal government sanction–set doctors’ prices (well below market and inflation rates) and impose unfair, normally illegal price-fixing schemes with suppliers (doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies), customers (employers and patients), and competitors (the National Insurance Clearinghouse, which shares info on patients and ensures lack of competition).
That’s socialized medicine. We already have the unworkable system of bad medicine that Moore wants. The only difference is that the government has contracted it out to third party agents, rather than completely controlling it.
“Sicko” shows us an America that is allegedly “behind” many countries in the world in healthcare, and lavishes undue praise on countries like Communist Cuba and France. But he fails to realize that with HMOs, we are well on our way to their systems where everyone gets the same healthcare–universally bad.
Moore shows us the short waiting time and zero cost of healthcare for his friends and relatives in Canada, just a quick drive over the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit to Windsor, Canada. But those stories are anecdotal, not representative of the norm. He doesn’t show us what’s actually going on with our neighbors to the north: That plenty of Canadians are driving in the opposite direction–to Detroit from Canada–to avoid the long waits Moore forgets to mention and the universally-awful Universal Healthcare. And they are paying out-of-pocket for Americans to treat them.
That’s because Canada’s healthcare is not exactly the fantasy Michael Moore would have us believe it is.
My cousin, Myrna, apparently lived in a different Canada than the rosy, glowing Canada where Moore’s cousins live. She had diabetes and developed black spots on her eyes. But under Canada’s magical health plan, she had to wait so long for a proper operation that she eventually went blind. And it was too late. That’s the real story of Canadian healthcare.
In Canada, they have little more than one MRI machine per major city. The waits for a basic MRI for a serious injury are endless. In the U.S., most hospitals and even small private clinics have several MRIs. We have the most MRIs per capita. That’s why the injured here don’t have to go irreparably sick like my cousin Myrna, waiting for treatment. Canada is rife with incidences of ceaseless waits for limited numbers of hospital beds and stories of well-connected politicians and their relatives moving ahead in the line. You don’t have to wait for a hospital bed in America.
And there is a reason why wealthy Saudi sheiks and other gazillionaires come to America for treatment. They could afford to go to the “medical paradises” Moore claims exist in Britain, France, and Cuba (which ranks 39th in world healthcare according to World Health Organization rankings, behind the U.S.). But they don’t. Because they deal in reality and want the best medical care available. That’s here in America. If you had a choice to be treated by a doctor in America or go to Cuba or France, would you really choose either of the latter two choices?
The best days of American medical care were prior to HMOs, when Americans paid out of pocket for all of their doctor visits and prescriptions. There was no Communist-like middle-man (ie., the HMOs) getting involved add unneeded, exorbitant extra costs for pushing paper. You visited your doctor only when needed, and you paid a lot less.
Market-based medical care–the true manifestation of the capitalism that Michael Moore detests (except when it comes to his performance at the box office)–worked just fine. And everyone could afford it. Insurance was strictly for catastrophic care, not every day papercuts. Your doctor was not over-worked and spent enough time to give you the best diagnosis and prescription for treatment.
The best and brightest went into medicine because they could earn what they wanted, not what a government-sanctioned middle man at an HMO told them to charge. And they were the final arbiters of treatment–not a bureaucrat with no medical education and training. Since socialism has crept into America’s healthcare industry, the best and brightest are no longer becoming doctors. It’s the capitalist truism that socialism and Communism won’t change: The best and brightest generally go where the money is. And with longer hours, lower pay, and haggling with HMOs and trial lawyers representing greedy patients, the money isn’t in medicine.
American healthcare would be best if the government outlawed HMOs as the illegal trusts, restraints of trade, and unfair monopolies that they are. A return to market-based, out-of-pocket pay for care would end the $200 per pill medicines and exorbitant costs for care.
But that’s not what Moore wants. He wants a larger manifestation of HMOs and a move to the healthcare that has sent the best doctors here, refugees of Britain and Canada.
When Moore shows us the American expatriates in France and other Frenchmen bragging about their great lives and the amount of time they take off from work, I thought back to the many complaints of former Moore employees–who didn’t get much in vacations or overtime and spoke of a slave-driver boss. In France, the bloated, welfare-dominant government mandates a work-week of no longer than 35 hours, and many citizens are fighting to work even less. If Michael Moore were an employer in France, he’d be fighting these rules, since he can’t even keep the more lax ones with regard to his own employees here.
More important, Moore does not mention trial lawyers once in the over two hours of this movie. But a big reason medical care in Canada and France is so cheap is that medical malpractice lawsuits are virtually non-existent in those countries where the loser must pay lawyer’s fees.
Moore’s fellow constituents of the left–plaintiff’s attorneys like his lefty friend, John Edwards–have added billions of dollars to our healthcare costs and helped make healthcare unaffordable to many. Yet, Moore conveniently skips this important driver of expensive “defensive medicine” and settlement payouts by insurance companies.
How can you do a legitimate movie on the current state of American healthcare and not mention trial lawyers? Instead of showing us parasites like Edwards gaming the system, sucking doctors dry through endless litigation, and making medical care in America far more expensive, the few scenes of attorneys show crusaders fighting for patients against HMOs.
And finally, Moore shows us that Al-Qaeda Islamic terrorists in Guantanamo Bay get the best healthcare–better than most Americans. But the reason they get such great healthcare has nothing to do with what goes on in mainland America. On the contrary, it’s the fault of Moore and his buddies on the left in the ACLU and Human Rights Watch are like PETA. They want animals to be treated far better than Americans.
I’d rather we not give them such fine healthcare and better dining and workout equipment than most Americans. But Moore’s comrades on the left insist that these are not really terrorists, but fine, nice people who’d never kill Americans. I’m glad to see that Moore–if only for the convenience of the propaganda of this film–is finally admitting they are terrorists.
If there’s one thing Moore is right about, it’s “Sicko’s” drubbing of President Bush’s confusing $400 billion-plus Medicare plan. It’s funny that this huge boondoggle–which added much to our tax bill and gave no benefits to the few seniors that actually understand it–was pimped on America by so-called “anti-tax” activists like pan-Islamist Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform at the behest of his buddy, Karl Rove. The program is pure Ted Kennedy/HillaryCare.
This week, the American Medical Association held its annual convention in Chicago. But you hardly heard a peep about it. The AMA–which gets knocked in “Sicko”–is largely a spineless, impotent club of doctors who can’t stand up for themselves.
That’s because–like the HMO bureaucrats who are clueless about proper medical care and how to treat patients–a clueless silver screen bureaucrat is now deciding what’s best for American medicine.
And he–Michael Moore–is as much of a Sicko as they are.
Among my previous work on Michael Moore and his propagand-umentaries:
Tags: ACLU, al-Qaeda, ambassador, Ambassador Bridge, America, American Medical Association, Americans for Tax Reform, Britain, Bush, Canada, Chicago, Cuba, Debbie Schlussel Watching, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, diabetes, France, Guantanamo Bay, healthcare, healthcare costs, healthcare industry, helped make healthcare, Human Rights Watch, insurance, John Edwards, Karl Rove, lawyer, Medicare, Michael Moore, Michigan House of Representatives, MRI, Myrna, President, Sicko, Sicko's, sports teams, Ted Kennedy, The Big One, United States, USD, Windsor, workout equipment, World Health Organization