Thu May 14th, 2009 at 01:48:03 AM EST
I was living in China when Michael Moore's Sicko came out in 2007, so I hardly heard anything about it or how it was received when it came out.
I just watched it on cable TV, and was pretty struck by it -- even as I expected over-the-top sensationalism and bias.
The US really comes out looking like a quasi-barbaric society, an also-ran in the community of civilized countries.
One of my favorite parts was the interview with British Labourite former member of Parliament Tony Benn, which you can see and part of which is transcribed below the fold.
Well, if you go back, it all began with democracy. Before we had the vote, all the power was in the hands of rich people. If you had money, you could get healthcare, education, look after yourself when you were old. And what democracy did was give was to give the poor the vote, and it moved power from the marketplace to the police station, from the wallet to the ballot.
If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people.
... choice depends on the freedom to choose, and if you are shackled with debt you don't have the freedom to choose.
People in debt become hopeless and hopeless people don't vote. They always say that that everyone should vote but I think that if the poor in Britain or the United States turned out and voted for people that represented their interests there would be a real democratic revolution.
See, I think there are two ways in which people are controlled. First of all frighten people and secondly, demoralize them.
An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern. And I think there's an element in the thinking of some people: 'We don't want people to be educated, healthy and confident, because they would get out of control.'
The top 1% of the world's population own 80% of the world's wealth. It's incredible that people put up with it! But they're poor, they're demoralized, they're frightened, and therefore they think perhaps the safest thing to do is take orders and hope for the best.
Another clip I like a lot shows Moore walking through the streets of Paris filled with embracing lovers and picnicking familes (to the somewhat incongruous accompaniment of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin's "Je t'aime... moi non plus") after having spent time learning about the French health care, day care, work and vacation system. He reminisces:
After seeing all this, I began to wonder: Was there a reason our government and our media wants us to hate the French? Are they worried we might like the French? Or like their ways of doing things? It was enough to make me put away my freedom fries.
Here is the clip (through 1:00; what follows that first minute is jarring anecdotal scenes involving people who are refused hospital care in Los Angeles):
And I began to wonder: What impact, if any, did this movie have in shaping the dialogue about healthcare and in making healthcare more of a priority among the U.S. public?