I have, until now, studiously avoided seeing Michael Moore's film "Sicko." It is the kind of film that makes me ill. The kind of film that I am sure will present me with evidence to confirm what I already believe. The kind of film that I am sure will present others with a lot of food for thought and may cause them to re-examine their own beliefs. The kind of film that will flash in the sky like fireworks on the fourth of July, leave debris behind on the streets for a week or so, and then be swept away without much thought for another year.
I have long championed socialized medicine. I believe that everyone has the right to seek medical treatment and receive it regardless of their socioeconomic status. I don't buy any of that crap that says that the United States has the best healthcare in the world because our system is market-driven. We have an incredibly high infant mortality rate. Our rate of homelessness is directly attributable to our lack of health care and mental health treatment. I could spout statistics. I could present facts, anecdotal evidence, actual interviews. But Michael Moore did that already. He did it with humor and honesty. He did it without ambiguity and by asking questions of people on both sides of the issue. And it hasn't made a damn bit of difference.
I watched 2/3 of the movie "Sicko" last night. I had to turn it off because I couldn't stand to watch anymore. For decades other countries have known that being healthy is a fundamental building block to having a strong society. Other Western countries. Other democratic countries. Other countries with whom the United States is allied. Other countries who look at us in disbelief. What is it going to take for us to admit that we are a society? A collective, connected society? What will it take for the United States to cease being simply a group of individuals interested in their own personal wealth and issues and begin seeing ourselves as part of something bigger? What do we need to do to understand that what hurts some of us hurts us all? I, for one, am not afraid of higher taxes if it means that each and every person in this country will be free to walk in to a clinic and be treated. I am not afraid of spending more of my own money right now so that in ten or fifteen or twenty years our rate of cancers, obesity, diabetes, homelessness and people losing their homes because of catastrophic healthcare costs will diminish.
I am disgusted by the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies who continue to dole out millions of dollars to protect their bottom line. I am not willing to move to another country to get my socialized medicine. This is my home. I want to stay here and make it better. I'm just not sure that will happen in my lifetime. Forgive me for turning off the movie and burying my head in the sand for now. I'm feeling a little discouraged.