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Saturday, November 24, 2007


More thoughts on SiCKO

Last night I watched the 80 minutes (!) of the very worthwhile set of "extras" that come on the SiCKO DVD, parts of which you can watch online if you only saw the movie in the theater. Watching them, and thinking more about the movie, I got more and more incensed at the absurd "critique" of the movie such as the Sanjay Gupta nonsense linked below. Quibbling over some obscure statistic in the film about how much Cuba spends on healthcare, or arguing over whether the healthcare systems of Canada, England, and France are perfection on earth, is so beside the point of this movie.

The central point of this movie isn't the excellence of other health care systems, it's the complete and utter immorality (and lunacy) of the American health care system. An estimated 18,000 people (some of them with insurance) die every year in the United States because they couldn't afford health care. That's a "9-11" every two months! We actually meet some of these people while they're alive, and now they're dead, murdered by capitalism and the greed and irrationality (from the point of view of the population) of the American health "care" system in particular. We watch people being dumped on Skid Row in Los Angeles when hospitals decide they can no longer care for them. Not because they're beyond treatment, but because no one's paying for it. This is what the film is all about, a sharp blow to the conscience of Americans to wake up and find a better way. And all some of the critics have to say is to "oh, but the lines are long in England and Canada, and Moore doesn't tell us that." Well, as Michael Moore has to say in one of those CNN interviews, sure the lines get a lot shorter when you take 50 million people out of line. Unfortunately, some of those people die as a result.

For an antidote, I've extracted the short interview with Dr. Aleida Guevara, Che Guevara's daughter who is a pediatrician in Cuba, from the film, and also the much longer interview with her found in the "extras" (so long I had to make it two parts to fit the YouTube 10-minute limit). In addition to health care, Guevara talks about concepts of "freedom," Americans (their ignorance and their lack of awareness of their real power), the veil, and (in Part 2), what it means to have a father who died when she was young, and what it means to live (and die) for something beyond yourself. Hopefully Moore and his company won't object to my sharing it here (including the last couple seconds of part 2, which are my addition, not Moore's).

[Apologies for the crappy quality of the videos, which is the fault of YouTube. The uploaded video was much better. Not sure what happened; usually this doesn't happen like this.] Update: - I updated Part 2 to a higher quality.

Update: It occurs to me that people, especially cynical Americans accustomed to hypocritical platitude-mouthing politicians and other public figures, may be skeptical listening to Guevara talk about how "every human life is precious." Should you be even slightly tempted in that direction, take a moment to remember that Guevara is part of the Cuban medical system which last year restored the eyesight of a destitute Bolivian peasant...who just happened to be the person who murdered Aleida's father, Che.

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