Thursday, June 28, 2007


Saw Sicko.

It is a positive view of the social democratic/socialism (of which there are genuine legitimate lasting achievements, namely in health care) and a totally negative view of the American libertarian view (of which they are many, mostly the un-free market, monopolized health care industry).

The downsides of the French (high umemployment, racism, non-integrated Muslim pop.), Cuban (dictatorship) systems while the upsides of the US are not covered (better integrated with Muslim and Arab Americans for example).

It doesn't cover how the US defense budget during the Cold War and the security umbrella it gave allowed the Euros to have objectively (as the movie documents) higher quality of life.

But it also doesn't cover how in a social democratic system (like France, Germany) the state becomes mythically more or less a god. Or less divinely, a substitute parent (also covered in the film). This breeds, as the conservative Americans always point out, an child-dependency theory.

No one has figured out the proper quadratic balance yet.

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When Moore shows US hospitals putting patients without the proper money/insurance in taxis and dumping them (esp. ones with mental disturbance) on Skid Row in LA, that is a moral outrage as a citizen. That makes me sick morally. But he could have easily found things to make me sick in the Euro social-democratic system.

He also didn't cover the problem of aging in these countries--this matters to me living in Canada and worried about facing a heavier and heavier tax base.

But the other health care system do preventive medicine better (covered in the film). It is the major lack I think in the health care (or lack thereof) system in the US. I'd rather that be promoted through the system than top-down enforcement like the trans-fat ban in NYC. Especially moves to limit care based on "lifestyle choices." Like not helping out an obese person suffering from heart disease. Like the story here from BBC.

The movie made me think strongly about Adam Smith's almost totally forgotten point that prior to the specialization of labor/hand of the market he would go on to describe (in the Wealth of Nations) namely that the society has to decide what are its common interest separate from the market. Smith's first work is a Moral Philosophy tract.

When the modern world fell into flatland, this ability to have this social discourse became reduced to utilitarian ethics (Mill: most pleasure for largest number) or free marketers mythically believing the invisible hand like a mythic god answer all prayers. And as such that conversation is hobbled if not crippled.

Health care is part I believe of that needs to be counted in this moral calculation of society. If it requires something other than the market, then I think that is necessary. That Americans live in such exorbitant wealth, unparalleled in human history and don't take care of each other, to me is beyond abominable.

In that regard, I think the US system is seriously flawed.

I was going to say this is a problem of relying only on the market. Although to be fair the drug companies and the health care providers given their extensive lobbying have the most un-free market in the biz. Un-checked de-regulation eventually leads to monopolization. That doesn't mean there aren't good people, well meaning doctors, nurses, and the rest. One of the best pieces of the film, I thought was former people from within the industry talking about their moral sickness due to their participation. One woman in particular who tells the story of answering phone calls and having to reject people for insurance based on the concept of prior conditions. She describes in brutally honest fashion how horrible she felt, how sick she felt within.

That more than anything is the clue something is wrong. Something deeply amiss. When in a health care system, people are violating their consciences. When health turns into moral illness and worse sinful action.

I think, aforementioned downsides of the film aside for the moment, the timing is on. Health care is going to be the domestic issue in the next presidential election. There is increasing push for universal health care. Unfortunately on the Republican side, Romney who had this very interesting possible pilot project when Gov. of Mass., seems to be either downplaying or perhaps moving away from his own better instincts on the subject. Obama's plan has emphasis on preventive care, which as I said before I think is the primary lacuna currently. Providing opportunity, incentives for people to lead healthy lives has shown to reduce costs on the far end. See for example, Mark Satin's article on health care here.

To pull value wise, the market business types in you only need point out that America is paying more per person for demonstrably worse coverage. In other words we have a worse product.

The polls Satin cites show Americans believe health care is a right but do not support significantly higher taxes nor government run programs. This way could provide an American brand, aiming towards this fusion I'm trying to articulate. The good part of the "s" word: better coverage without the attendant secularization (the state=god as in Hegel) motive behind it.


At 2:17 AM, Blogger ~C4Chaos said...

thanks for this excellent review and commentary on health care. i'm looking forward to see the film.



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