Why Micheal Moore’s Sicko” Made Me Want to Leave the Country
We have close friends who moved last year from California to New Zealand, because they were concerned about the growing rightward drift in the US–event hough they lived in one of the most liberal cities in the whole country.
Well, my wife and I saw “Sicko,” the other night: Michael Moore’s movie about the healthcare crisis in the US–and indepedently, both of us thought, ‘hmmm, New Zealand doesn’t seem so outrageous right now.’
Moore exposes the human cost of the USA’s failed healthcare system: doctors who are paid to deny necessary procedures, 9/11 volunteers who fell between the very large cracks, a cancer patient who had to sell her home and move into a spare room in her daughter’s house, thousands of miles away…and in true Moore fashion he bundles a few of these folks off on small boats to Guantanamo Bay–to demand the same free, state-of-the-art healthcare that the Bush-Cheney government repeatedly brags is offered to the prisoners there.
Of course, he’s turned away there–but finds a very receptive audience within the Cuban medical system, which treats the 9/11 volunteers as true heroes. In a very moving moment, a doctor in Cuba tells Moore that Cuba is a very poor country with few resources, but it has made healthcare a priority for all its citizens–and she pretty much tells him, if we can do it, you can too.
Cuba is not the only place that has made healthcare a priority–just about every First World country except the US offers high-quality free or minimal-cost universal healthcare, and Moore documents this with interviews in Canada, France, and England.
Less strident and more poignant than in some of his earlier films, Moore has made a film that I think could reach mainstream American audiences and show them it doesn’t have to be that way. And why, Moore asks, is “socialized medicine” such a demonized concept in the US? After all, we have socialized police and fire protection, public education, and plenty more. Why isn’t healthcare likewise considered a basic service?
In 1979 and 1980, I worked as a paid organizer for the Gray Panthers. Their biggest platform was the need for single-payer healthcare. Back then, we used to say that the United States and South Africa were the only two industrialized countries to lack this basic right–and South Africa, of course, embraced universal healthcare when it voted out the old apartheid government. So the US is all alone in its insistence that healthcare should be for profit, and not for health. Almost 30 years later, the Gray Panthers’ call is more important than ever.
And will I leave the country just to get affordable healthcare? At the moment, no. Our parents are here, our children are here, we live in Paradise in our antique farmhouse next to the mountain…and at the resent, we’re both in fine health. But certainly, this movie made us consider the option.
The website for the movie is http://www.michaelmoore.com/sicko/