Concerned readers might think me about ready to turn in my passport and apply for citizenship over here, given my post from a couple weeks ago and now this. Rest assured, I’m not even close to that. I’m quite happy to carry U.S. citizenship and nevertheless reap the benefits of Western European residence.
Our pal Sara in KC got me a copy of the Michael Moore movie “Sicko” as a get-well-soon present dating back to my gall bladder removal in November. This weekend, we finally got around to watching it. It was quite thought-provoking.
I’m realizing I’ve had it pretty easy so far:
- a hernia shortly after birth (early heavy lifting?)
- another one around age 12 or 13
- an appendectomy at 13 or 14
- a pretty serious (for the car, not for its contents) car accident as a young driver
- a couple of stitches-causing lacerations (only one of which involved a chain saw)
- the aforementioned gall bladder removal with apparently no lasting side effects
- and, knock on wood, no firearms accidents to date
I chalk this good fortune up to
- parents who insured the family
- a little prudence on my part (I try to eat balanced meals, be careful with my shotgun, and not drive like a jerk)
- a huge amount of luck
What’s luck got to do with it? Well, the country I was born in was a first world country. That ups my odds of living a long and healthy life a fair amount right there — and I definitely had nothing to do with that.
But what about people who don’t have insurance? You can’t really attribute that to bad luck — unless they can’t get health insurance due to pre-existing conditions beyond their control (bad genes? flowerpot fell on your head from 10 stories up?). Or worse, pre-existing conditions they developed in the service of others. I’m thinking here specifically about the 9/11 rescue workers featured in “Sicko.”
I know the movie is intended to manipulate the viewer’s emotions (I got misty more than once) and hey, it’s coming from Michael Moore, so it’s probably at least as “fair and balanced” as Fox News is, but still…some points in the movie really hit home with me. I jotted down some quotes from the movie for those who haven’t seen it.
A random young-looking woman in a Canadian hospital waiting-room:
“We know in America people pay for their healthcare, but I guess we don’t undrestand that, ’cause we don’t have to deal with that. We don’t understand that concept.”
Michael Moore, on the phenomenon of socialized-this but not socialized-that:
“I kind of like having a police department and fire department and the library. And I got to wondering, why don’t we have more of these free, socialized things, like health care?”
Note: if you think you could live with privatized law-enforcement, et cetera, read Max Barry’s Jennifer Government.
A lot stuff this codgy old British guy was saying in the movie was resonating with me — especially the bits in the special features section of the DVD. So we looked him up; he’s a total pinko-socialist-commie type.
Tony Benn, former member of British Parliament on his government’s enlightenment in the face of pre- and post-war economic conditions in Britain:
“If you can have full employment by killing Germans, why can’t you have it by building hospitals, schools, recruiting nurses and teachers? If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people.”
More Tony Benn:
“Because if you have power, you use it to meet the needs of your community. And this idea of choice, which capital talks about, “you’ve got to have a choice,” choice depends on the freedom to choose. If you’re shackled with debt, you don’t have a freedom to choose. People in debt become hopeless, and hopeless people don’t vote. They always say, everyone should vote, but I think if the poor in Britain or the United States voted for the people who represented their interests, it would be a real democratic revolution. So they don’t want it to happen. So keeping people hopeless and pessimistic. See, I think there are two ways in which people are controlled. First of all, frighten them, and secondly, demoralize them. An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern.”
Maybe a little commie-pinko-socialism wouldn’t be so bad; at least for the bottom 92% (by income) of the U.S. population. And for the top 8%? I bet they’d still do just fine, don’t you?
Local peeps: let us know if you want to borrow our copy of the DVD so we can discuss.