"Sicko" is Not Controversial; It is a Challenge

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Yesterday was Fourth of July. I love my country, which is why I want it back, along with everything it stands for.
    You’ve been warned. If Rush Limbaugh and other glib sociopaths are your heroes, you can stop reading this right now. Actually, I take it back. Chances are reality is setting in. You realize you’ve been conned. We’re just a small minority of 99 percent of the nation, but we’re growing. Pull up a chair and make yourself welcome.
    A few days ago, my housemate roped me into seeing “Sicko.” The documentary, by provocateur Michael Moore, is a strong indictment on the American healthcare system. There is nothing controversial about the film. Everything in it is frighteningly true.
    I would not have ventured into “Sicko” on my own. Seeing things that disturb me is not a good combination with my mood disorder. One minute into it my mind was churning up a lot of unpleasant stuff. Sitting through a widow talking about how an HMO denied her now-deceased husband life-saving treatment is pretty hard to take.
    So is listening to a grieving mother report how her 18-month-old daughter died while her HMO refused hospital emergency treatment.
    So is watching a group of volunteer 9/11 rescue workers with hacking coughs, dying slow painful deaths, totally forgotten by the country they so selflessly served.
    So is looking at a 79-year-old man forced to work to pay for his wife’s medication.
    “Who are we?” Michael Moore plaintively asks.
    This is who we are: A nation of people who have stopped paying attention, who, while we were sleeping, woke up to find our values and wallets and security and our freedom stolen from us. What else can account for a so-called healthcare system that profits (and rewards its employees) for shamefully denying treatment to people who need it? What else can account for the fact that we rank way behind Canada and Western Europe in terms of quality of healthcare? What else can account for the appalling statistic that infants born here have lower chances of survival than in a lot of third world nations?
    In 2003, Congress passed legislation which the President signed into law that amounted to a mega-billions drug company-insurance company welfare bill fraudulently masquerading as Medicare reform. In my email Newsletter at the time, I spoke out against this blatant chicanery. Did anyone listen? The congressman who shepherded the bill through the House claimed to love his mother. That may be true, but the fact is, as Michael Moore pointed out, he loves your mother and my mother a lot less. Soon after the bill’s passage, the congressman accepted a job with a $2 million salary from an HMO.
    Who are we? Definitely not Canadians and Europeans. In case you didn’t know it already, Michael Moore reminds us that in places like France and the UK and the rest of the western world, its citizens do not live in fear. They are treated with respect. They are not denied medical care and treatment, and they are not reduced to poverty for being properly looked after.
    Yes, they are heavily taxed, but no one living in these countries seriously wants to change the status quo. Quite the contrary, there would be a revolution. Their politicians know this. In the rest of the western world, unlike the US, governments actually fear their citizens.
    Our politicians and the media have lied to us about the so-called evils of socialized medicine, as if it were a communist plot. In fact, “socialized” medicine works a lot more efficiently than the sorry mess we have now. And with an emphasis on preventive care, it is a lot smarter.
    Michael Moore serves up plenty of examples of how enlightened the rest of the western world (and even Cuba) is compared to us. But I’m not taking his word for it. Over a 17-year stretch, I lived in Canada (for a year), New Zealand (11 years), and Australia (five years). My now-grown daughter was born in New Zealand. No hospital bill. A government nurse made routine visits to check in on her. No bill. At age one, she received expert care in a burn unit as an inpatient for a full week. No bill. A couple of weeks ago, she informed me she is engaged to a New Zealand physician. I cried tears of joy.
    Who stole America from us? Who stole our values as a civilized society? The sad fact is, as Michael Moore makes clear, we all allowed this sorry state of affairs to happen. There are no bad guys and good guys. Our voter turn-out, compared to the rest of the world is pathetic. We celebrate a culture of stupidity, so much so that, ironically, Michael Moore got bumped from Larry King for Paris Hilton.
    True freedom is something we have to work at every day. Indifference doesn’t work. Stupid doesn’t work. In 1776, this nation was fortunate enough to possess an abundant supply of dedicated and intelligent souls brave enough to put their vision (and their lives) to the test. As you celebrate the Fourth of July weekend, ask yourself: What would the signers of the Declaration of Independence think of us now?
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Published On: July 05, 2007