Sunday, July 01, 2007

Debating Sicko

I watched Bowling for Columbine in a theater near Lincoln Center, one of my favorite areas in New York. When the credits rolled, the crowd burst into applause, which made me a bit sick -- and I'm a staunch proponent of gun control. But I can't think of someone who I'd less rather have defending a cause of mine than Michael Moore. The guy's techniques are so transparently...untransparent that I think it's only possible to admire him as a propagandist. Of course, propaganda is something those around Lincoln Center are happy to see, if it takes up their side.

Even aside from his treatment of facts, though -- or perhaps this is an inherent part of any work that treats facts the way his does -- I'm most turned off by Moore's condescension to his subjects. I'm happy to ridicule people if they're presented neutrally more or less as they are (here I think of American Movie, Chris Smith's brilliant documentary about a young horror filmmaker in Wisconsin, who's easy both to laugh at and to love), but Moore sets himself up as a champion of the common man. Yet, I have never seen him pass up an opportunity to sneer at the common man for a cheap laugh.

I also haven't seen Sicko, Moore's latest, but I've been following the reaction to it with interest. I imagine there are many things that can be done to improve the American health care system. I'm not sure "change it to the exact system used by Canada or France" is a worthwhile, or even feasible, response. Jane Galt, as always, talks interesting economics that I don't fully understand. Andrew Sullivan points to a brief film that takes the opposite side of Moore's argument, and he also tries to balance the portrait of current American care.

Of course, like all hot-button issues, this one brings out the extremists, like this comment left on Matthew Yglesias' blog:
Sullivan might be right on some issues, but let's not forget he's a diehard capitalist on this issue and would rather see dead children than a broke CEO.
I wouldn't draw attention to such an insanely unfair summary of someone's philosophy if it wasn't fairly common. This is the leftist equivalent of all the righties who say liberals want terrorists to win. Despite the obvious existence of corrupt CEOs, etc., I think the majority of people who believe in the power of the free market do so because they think it can lead to good. Or at least, more good than other solutions. It's wise to debate them on the merits of the arguments. Saying they're rooting for children to die is not just ridiculous but counterproductive.


Blogger Beckylooo said...

Right on. While I think of my self as a fairly left leaning progressive, I do my best to look at all sides of an issue before deciding where to stand. I want Moore's movies to be so much more than they are...

I read this yesterday:

which made me want to throw something at my computer.

Too often I find myself looking left, looking right and deciding it would just be best if I took my ball and went home.


2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Kurt Loder's review -- which is excerpted in the RedState article linked by beckyloo -- is surprisingly good in its entirety. That's right. The guy who used to do breaking news reports about Tupac's feud with Biggie Smalls wrote an informative article on healthcare reform.

And I've never been a fan of socialist medicine. But that's probably because my dad was in the military, so we had free government healthcare at military hospitals whenever we wanted it. Trust me when I say that you don't want it.

-- Comish

12:00 PM  
Blogger Beckylooo said...

In case I wasn't clear, my issue wasn't with Loder, rather it was with the poster saying he'd been looking for an "unbiased" review when it was clear he was just looking for a bad one. Never mind he didn't have to look any further than that liberal rag the New Yorker. Or 2/3rds of the internet. They're not that difficult to come by.

And for the record, I don't want socialized medecine (Ma's Canadian, I get it). I want insurance companies to be forced to care about the welfare of human beings.

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gotcha, beckyloo. I didn't mean to imply otherwise, and I apologize if I did.

-- Comish

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't seen "Sicko" yet, but I do intend to watch it, because there's nothing I like better than a good airing of the insurance industry's dirty laundry.

sometimes, facts are facts. And not everything is partisan just because a vocally partisan person points it out.

As for "socialized medicine," I've come to the conclusion that's a buzzword that Republicans invented to drive everyone screaming from even considering nationalized health care plans before even looking at them.

I like Obama's health care plan. What we need is a hybrid that allows people to get coverage, all people, and get preventative and emergent care. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just behind the times in my mind. We can't keep going in a "capitalistic" health care system where pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies (NOT doctors) make all the money and all of the decisions. Can't we all agree this isn't working?

I do agree with Comish- the military health care system is awful--I make my living suing the government on behalf of veterans and military dependents. But universal coverage doesn't have to equate to everyone having terrible care. To dismiss the idea of providing people with health care based on an old, unproven assumption that if everyone has health care, "our" care will go downhill---well, it's time to move past the rhetoric into real solutions.

So get over the fact that Michael Moore is actually right on this one. When two lawyers have trouble supporting their kids, saving for college, paying off student loans, saving for retirement, and supporting their aging parents, does anyone think someone in a working class job can do it?

I expect more from this country, and you should too.

10:22 PM  
Blogger JMW said...


I'm with ya. I want more out of this country, I want the insurance industry to be exposed, and I want changes for the better in health care. But I honestly think Michael Moore will make this harder. You say you want to "move past the rhetoric" (and knowing you, I know you mean this, and I love that), but Moore is just one uninterrupted stream of rhetoric. Braying about how it would be better if America had Cuba's health-care system, as he evidently does, is no way to get real change to happen -- it's more likely to just give the most extreme free-market-siders something to more convincingly set their arguments against. But that's all. Really, I'm with ya. I am!!!

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, I am concerned with the credibility of Aswoba with its continous tirade against moviemakers such as Michael Moore and Al Gore, while still refusing to bother to see their films. If Aswoba has another method to engage debate, we would all welcome the initiative, but for now America could use a wake-up call once in a while. Please, if you have the time to view films for Pajiba, then surely you should re-consider your one-sided judment of these films before having even taken the opportunity to view them.

1:07 AM  

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