Monday, July 13, 2009

Politics As Usual

a political rant. skip if such things offend.

I didn't write much about Michael Moore's Sicko when it came out but now I'm wishing I had. He's got a new film on the way Capitalism: A Love Story and that's a great idea for a follow up. One might even call it a sequel, though I doubt it's intended to be (more on that in a minute). Here we are two years later and people are still denying the obvious... when systems are broken they need fixing. I'm not sure that Capitalism is broken exactly but it sure is sickly. It's been on an all sugar immediate satisfaction diet and now it has diabetes. Healthcare is broken. How much more fulfilling could people's lives be if their decisions about how they would contribute to society did not have to come down to "which mega corporation can I work for so my family can (possibly) get medical treatment if something terrible happens?"

That rabid right wing site Big Hollywood has a post up by a former SNL cast member I used to like (oops) Victoria Jackson. She always played dumb blondes. I had no idea she wasn't acting. In the post she claims that up is down and down is up and then goes on to prove that it is (only not in the way she thinks) by completely blaming our nation's financial woes on policies that have not even taken effect yet. I already knew that extreme right-wingers weren't exactly reality based thinkers -- I grew up in a very conservative home. I'm familiar with the thought processes -- but I was not aware that they had now invented time machines! What upsets me more than basic economic stupidity (I'm not exactly a math pro myself so I can be forgiving there) is the absurd and damaging attacks the Republican loonies are always making on universal health care. They want the system as is, the system that only benefits insurance companies and not people. Republicans like to scare Americans into thinking that socialized medicine kills people. I suppose they assume Americans are dumb enough to imagine that the streets of Canada, France and England are continually overflowing with dead bodies. The scare tactic question they love to ask is this "Do you want the government making decisions about your health?"

You know, that's actually a good question. But what they fail to ever acknowledge is that none of us, save the extremely wealthy, get to actually make these decisions for ourselves. The insurance companies make them. Didn't these people see Sicko? (Oh right, they didn't. They rejected it out of hand because Michael Moore -- their idea of an 'evildoer' -- made it). The insurance companies are only responsible to their shareholders and guess what? FACT: Our best interests when we need medical treatment are in direct opposition to the best interests of shareholders. The more money they pay out for our health, the less profit they have to split. I'll take my chances with the government, thank you. At least when they screw up, I can attempt to vote them out of office. And, theoretically speaking, the government's best interest (gross domestic product) is not in direct opposition to the health of the population.

I'd like to propose some legislation: From this day forward, crazy Republicans like Victoria Jackson should have to dig the graves (bare handed) of each person who dies because they couldn't get the medical services they needed.


NoNo said...


Cinesnatch said...

I go to the BH website all the time, whether it's out of open-mindedness, mischievousness, both or something else entirely.

I must stop. Such a waste of time.

Thanks for the post.

adelutza said...

It's so stupid it'd actually be funny if there weren't so many that took it seriously.

Janice said...

I recall your muted response at the time, Nathaniel (I double-checked your previous post on the film just to make sure I wasn't remembering incorrectly) but I also recall that the response from critics ranged from "muted" to "rapidly against" the film - very little of the critical love that had been shown Moore's previous films. (And yes I have seen Sicko and, by this point, I believe I've seen four of his films in total.) I don't think the techniques used were all that appreciably different from one to another. (Roger and Me, his first film, was obviously less "slick" but the Michael Moore "style" and personality is equally present in all of them.)

What struck me at the time was not the attacks from the conservative side (I expected those) but this discomfort with the film and its subject matter from those who presumably are on the left or in the center - attack Bush? Thumbs up. Address the notion that many Americans have inadequate healthcare? That's another story - is it that many (white, college-educated) critics have adequate healthcare coverage of their own? I can't imagine that film criticism as a career is such a cushy job - unless your name is Roger Ebert.

Sicko seems more prescient now than ever before, but apparently we weren't ready as a nation to deal with it. Aside from whatever the film's flaws as a "film" per se might be (and again, I've seen Mores films out of chronological order, so his style seems quite consistent from film to film) it seems that the notion that "regular Americans are suffering for reasons that have nothing to do with lack of hard work, etc" is/was not a popular notion to discuss even on the left UNTIL that suffering starts to reach a "critical mass" amongst the middle class.


my muted response at the time was due to not thinking it was all that great as a film (the critics who did rave were like "best film of his ever") and really wishing he'd pulled back on the things like the sentimental scoring (yeah, we get it. it's terrible to not get health coverage.

but that said i really believe in the films message.

Whether or not one agrees with socialism, i can't understand why ANYONE would think that HEALTH should be a for profit business. I mean let's get real... So many conflicts of interest there. It doesn't make any sense on any level to have medical treatment, wellness, surgeries any of that be a for profit business. it's antithetical to the notion of keeping people well.

Brad said...

wow...I would go through and point out everything wrong with what you just wrote but.

1. I don't have time to write a novel
2. This is your site, so I'll allow you to live in fantasy land here.

MJS said...

Great post

I'm not sure I'd call the response to Sicko muted, it's currently standing at 93% on RT.

Wayne B said...

"Do you want the government making decisions about your health?"
- This is my reality and sometimes it can suck. There is a comfort though knowing that no matter what happens, my older relatives will never be turned away from a hospital because they don’t have insurance. But like anything else, it's far from perfect and sometimes it can screw over the population.

KBJr. said...


As a conservative, I'll try and briefly address one criticism you've made which I believe is wholly unfair and unbecoming. Conservatives do not want the status quo as pertains to health care, we just advocate alternative solutions to single-payer, government-managed universal health care. When you make the accusation that conservatives only support a system which benefits the insurance company, I think you do a great disservice to the greater debate. What is the issue with discussing alternatives?

One alternative all but ignored would be eliminating the invisible borders which prevent citizens to cross state lines when purchasing health insurance. Also, eliminating some of the unnecessary premium regulations and requirements on the state level which drive up health costs.

Tort reform, possibly creating a state government-managed free clinic system, which would deal directly with situations which do not require hospitalizations, eliminating employer-based health insurance and instead allowing employees to purchase their own insurance with vouchers and/or tax credits.

These are alternatives which I believe should be considered. Obviously, all sides will have their downsides. But having a real debate without demonization is the only way we're going to reach a solution to a huge problem.



thanks for a measured response to a heated post. If only more people could do that. I'm sorry that i painted too many people with the same colored brush. I usually like to stay calm and thoughtful but people claiming that those who believe in universal healthcare are out to kill grannies and babies just got me riled up.

i get heated because i get tired of the vitriol the rightwing (mostly. sorry but it's true) spews about how evil government health care is. why can't we all accept that no system is perfect and why can't we stop acting like america has always done the right thing? I don't understand why we can't look at other countries who have well managed systems and try to emulate. I guess because this would mean accepting that we are not perfect in all areas.

as for discussing alternatives. I'm totally for that as long as the alternatives do not involve a) poor people missing out because they're poor (they should have as much right to good health as anyone) and b) someone making a profit based on doing the opposite of what medicine is supposed to do: heal.

Anonymous said...

if you shut the boards down today, it would not change the problem with healthcare. That's not a "conservative" solution. it's a misdirection. The problem with our system is that our system costs twice as much as other countries with worse outcomes. If you want to go to a good non-partisan source that discusses these issues, please check out the Kaiser family foundation. I used to be more "moderate" on these issues until I decided to stop putting labels on myself and idealogical criteria. Instead, I judged the issue on the issue itself, and what is causing what. It's like the boogieman of litigation. The issue of litigation, if all of it ended today, would not change the horrendous trajectory- that trajectory has us paying 20 percent of GDP in a decade. Other countries are not even out of the single digits of GDP. We can not compete with this. those countries use a pulbic system. That's why I advocate the system. I am a capitalist. I understand why markets are failing. this one is. So you can either address it now or address the wishful thinking of blaming the brown people, and still have the problem a decade from now.

Anonymous said...

, Nathaneil:

There are no alternatives to the public option being advocated by moderate liberals (versus the conservative Doms and Republicans who offer no real reform). For example, right now the problem in a ot of markets is that healthcare insurance companies are pretty much monopolies. This means that they are able to pretty much charge whatever want without a market challenger to their pricing. I do not know your background, but monopolies are a bad thing. The only way to address the issue is breaking up the companies (hard to do given the economy of size one needs to even compete in such a market as insurance) or regulate heavily (again hard to do given the way these industries lobby). Thus, we are left with creating some market mechanism to force them to compete based on pricing and quality of product. This is not about rich or poor either. The reality is that even Americans with healthcare, whether they know it or not, are being price gauged. People discuss taxation, but this is ironic considering wages are stagnant due to the fact that we pay so much more for benefits than we need to be paying. There are many real economic issues that I can go into. This is one of my pet issues so when others chime in with things such as the conservative guy who responded to you- with things I know will not matter. I feel the need to set the record straight. Ia m not even going into industry practices such as recision or the waste regarding our paying higher rates for drugs than countries abroad. We are basically subsidizing them because Bush did not want to allow competition from outside markets.

Glenn said...

I really liked Sicko.

But I don't live in America so I don't feel like I have a right to comment on what you guys should or shouldn't be doing. I'm just glad I have (reasonably) affordable health care. I had to have surgery recently and saved myself quite a few hundred dollars that I otherwise wouldn't have had.

Anonymous said...