23 May 2007


Salon.com's indiefilm superguru (and sometime soccer pundit) Andrew O'Hehir has the buzz on Michael Moore's film "Sicko" at the Cannes Film Festival.

Much of this is played as comedy; Moore corners a young Afro-British couple with a wiggling bundle in the hallway of a London hospital and says cheerfully, "So -- how much they charge you for that baby?" But Moore is trying to push us beyond the universally shared idea that something must be done to the slightly more controversial idea that something has been done, and that all we have to do is appropriate it. Americans have of course been conditioned for generations to believe that socialized medicine is first of all a disaster in its own terms, and secondly, the pathway to totalitarianism.

His portrayal of the Canadian, British and French systems is undoubtedly simplistic , and several Canadian reporters took that up with him at the press conference -- although all of them admitted they wouldn't trade their system for ours. But Moore's overall point is, I think, inarguable: Flawed as they may be, those systems are a hell of a lot more humane and civilized than anything we've got. (Life expectancy is significantly higher, and infant mortality lower, in all of those countries than the United States. Whatever outdated stereotypes you may hold, these days poor people in Britain are statistically healthier than rich people in America.)

The latter paragraph is a nice reflection of how progressive programs are held hostage by our spin'n'say capitalists, who moan in their sleep about "socialized medicine...socialized medicine...class warfare..." They will quickly latch on to any and all small gripes from Canada or Scandinavia or wherever as testimony for the superiority of the status quo without acknowledging the suggestion that said Canadian might want to trade in his Commie-tude for some 'Murican freedom will earn you a hearty "go frak yourself." Only more polite, 'cause this is Canada after all. The burden of proof is apparently unduly on the left to produce proof of an absolute utopia, because the market-worshipers aren't going to butcher the golden goose for anything less.