Sicko

As you could imagine, the critical word about Michael Moore’s new documentary Sicko became just as much news as the release of the film itself, just one more way of Moore’s critics fooling themselves about how they’ll stop him.  A Moore critic was pissed that the filmmaker was behind a $12,000 donation to help his ailing wife when she was hospitalized and CNN’s surgeon/journalist with connections to those in the medical insurance industry blasted Moore’s numbers.

You can argue numbers and details all you want with a documentary like this, but what does it matter? Bean counting hand-wringers don’t get it about Michael Moore. He may not believe so, but Moore’s not a journalist, he’s an activist, an outspoken progressive one that makes effective movies and this drives a lot of his distractors crazy.

But what should concern the naysayers most is how Moore is able to take a basic simplistic accepted notion–the health care system in this country is abysmal–and humanizes it with dire stories of those who believed they were covered, but were not, or worse, were denied coverage in life threatening situations or gouged for more money after treatments. Moore successfully links corporate greed to legislators on the take from lobbyists and shows how it was practically institutionalized in a damning recording by then-President Richard Nixon upon the allowed formation of the first for-profit HMO. Once making the assertion that HMOs were out to make bucks and actually reject patients to retain those profit margins, Moore fans the flames by presenting comparisons to socialized medical systems in Canada, Britain and France. He achieves the most profoundly angering, and moving, sequence when he takes chronically-ill 9/11 rescue volunteers to Cuban clinics (treated for free) when rejected by the Guantanamo Naval Base (which treats ailing prisoners for free).

Part of the criticism leveled at Sicko is the assertion that Moore leads viewers to believe that universal health care presented in the socialized medical systems comes at little or no cost. But the film makes clear with an former British MP that not only is it taxpayer driven and “not a charity,” but the responsibility of all persons to care for each other.

This duty to one another becomes the overriding theme of Sicko.  If it seems corny to some and frighteningly socialistic to others, it’s because of how alienating the notion of caring for each other has become. Moore brings up an important point: the genuine selfless spirit of caring for one another during times of disasters shouldn’t wait for disasters.

Moore haters may not like it, but the one whose wife was ailing during their own personal crisis took that $12,000 check, and hey, I don’t blame him. I’d have taken it too. But if we had a single-payer universal health care system, would that check have even been necessary?

UPDATE:

As I was in the middle of writing this review, I had just learned through the great website Thinkprogress.org that Michael Moore was subpeonaed by the Bush Administration for travelling to Cuba. He brought up the issue on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Congrats, Occupant Bush! You just found a way for diplomacy with Iran: criticize and go after filmmakers you don’t like.

If I were Moore, just do like Bush appointees Miers and Bolten do. Don’t show up. You can then get Alberto Gonzales to go after you (like he has time right now). The DOJ is so disorganized you can probably count on Gonzo firing the nine lawyers out to prosecute you for reasons he’ll have to come up with later, he just doesn’t know right now.

Oh, and if, like Miers, you don’t show up, you’ll probably get nominated to the Supreme Court. 

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