Friday, June 29, 2007


With today's highly anticipated release of Michael Moore's newest film, SICKO, I sent to the Key West Citizen a letter to the editor, which is being published on Monday, July 2nd. . They limit letters to 500 words, and no more than one letter every two weeks from a writer.
"Bottom line?" Go see it. Let your legislators know you are hip to their lobbyist-led game, and it's time to address this critical need with a universal health care for all. (Above, Moore with a physician in Havana).


To the Editor:

SICKO, Michael Moore’s latest film jeremiad, about the woeful state of US health care, the profit-driven complicity of insurance and pharmaceutical companies and the timidity of the political establishment to wrestle the beast is also a long-overdue look at our nation’s lack of an adequate universal health care program, the only industrialized country lacking one. He makes his points in an almost uncharacteristic, restrained style, unlike his earlier agit-prop films. He illustrates we actually have, I would maintain, an ILLNESS care industry, with the primary beneficiary being the stockholders’ health.

Moore wants people to feel empowered, to leave the theater and spark social change, and even, if only figuratively, go march in the streets, which he does in a Boomer-flavored, although flaccid, effort by scoring the Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” refrain. AARP soldiers against Aetna? A more muscular strategy is required. Medical bills are the #1 reason for bankruptcy in the US. The indigent and the wealthy have coverage. It’s the middle class most squeezed. SICKO rightly points out we have ”free” police, schools, firefighters, libraries, and we don’t consider it “socialism”. We can provide health care the same way.

While he certainly intends SICKO to be a galvanizing cinematic experience, it remains to be seen if it will electrify the audiences the way his earlier, emotional pictures have done. He’s even debated whether those achieved his intended results – did Bowling for Columbine stop gun violence or did Fahrenheit 9/11 stop Bush? SICKO is a remarkable, yet muted, even flawed tome to the choir. It won’t change anyone’s mind. Yet this might be his best picture, ever.

Information is power. Revealing the deep fissures is almost taking candy from a (sick) baby. Offering solutions, a single-payer, free, universal health care isn’t as easy, although his look at other nation’s plans would suggest it is in fact, quite easy – the audience can decide for themselves the merits of how other nations care for its citizens, but quality of life is transparently presented as where one should weigh in. A smarter expose might have openly examined the very tenets the system is built on. The US argues Americans can’t have imported Canadian drugs, in order to protect us from “unsafe” products. Yet, Canadians aren’t dropping from their use. Do secret socialist poisons magically get released once through customs?

SICKO urges us to force politicians to put money and proposals where our mouth and body is, not just in their own lobbyist paid pockets, an easy piƱata for Moore. His approach isn’t “balanced”, but is inarguably entertaining. As I left the packed sneak-preview at the Miami theater the comment all around was definite agreement with him. How can you not? It’s non-partisan, an ethical issue. He’s putting the spotlight on greed by the insurance companies and pharms, and their profit mission shouldn’t trump doing the right thing to care for all citizens. Frankly, there are harder hitting documentaries than SICKO. So now it’s up to all of us to do - more.