Monday July 2, 2007

Margaret stopped by Lincoln Road on Friday and photographed the Sicko protest and iPhone line.

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  1. :)    Mon Jul 2, 11:27 AM #  

    wow, thats the lamest protest ever. when Margaret calls these people “heroic” it degrades the real heros of this world. sad.

  2. Jonathan    Mon Jul 2, 11:47 AM #  

    Yeah, it was lame. They were merely providing facts to counteract the pro-Castro socialized-medicine propaganda. They should have been walking around on stilts with giant papier-mache George Bush heads to entertain you instead.

  3. Go Fidel Go    Mon Jul 2, 12:16 PM #  

    what are they protesting? oh yeah, dr. evil aka fidel. gimme a break! even the neo-cons aren’t arguing with the points made in this film. maybe these protesters should go ask the construction workers on their block about the health care they receive, or even their local sandwich maker. you could put castro’s face on a puppy and these people would stomp it to a pulp. closed minds.

  4. alesh    Mon Jul 2, 02:09 PM #  

    Moore’s got a valid point in criticizing the US healthcare system, but in a career filled with cheap shots, the trip to Cuba is one of the cheapest.

  5. Rick    Mon Jul 2, 10:05 PM #  

    Bets on how many people commenting on the film have actually seen it.

    If you saw the film you would understand that the reason for the comparisons was not to illustrate that the treatment received in France, Canada or Cuba was any better than that you could get in the U.S. The point was to show that in these other countries, medical care is an entitlement that rich, poor, young and old receive as human beings and citizens. Their healthcare systems are not there to enrich highly paid CEO’s and stockholders. They are there to help keep the citizenry healthy.

    Do yourselves a big favor. Break down and see the movie and then come back and give your opinions instead of relying on someone else for yours.


  6. :)    Mon Jul 2, 10:44 PM #  

    I agree with rick. Sicko is a solid film with a premise that is timely, universal and vital. America needs to ask this question – Why are we without free healthcare? We may be the richest country in the free world but our lack or the greatest healthcare system in the world is a glaring atrocity in our domestic government policy. I think most people will agree with M. Moore unless of course they work for the healthcare system and believe that they will loose money is of healthcare system is reformed or they are from the extremist side of the ideological right. (and no I will not degrade the term “Nazi” by calling the far right them that)

  7. alesh    Mon Jul 2, 11:29 PM #  

    Well, I’m sure I’ll see the film eventually, but I’m in no hurry. I don’t need Michael Moore’s help in deciding how I feel about this issue. Frankly, I don’t want his help deciding anything. His movies are entertaining, but they’re not just one-sided, but also intellectually dishonest. He uses cheap tactics to appeal to people who can’t see through them (or choose not to — preaching to the choir).

    Slate ran a couple of good articles about the film which I read to kill some time during lunch today, so I have a pretty decent idea of what’s in it. As far as the specifics of how borked the healthcare system is, I have enough first and second hand experience of my own to know that.

    I think we’ll have a nationalized healthcare system in this country sometime in the next decade (hopefully sooner rather then later), and while I’m sure it will be borked in its own way (you can find your own share of horror stories from the Canadian and French systems, though of course Moore would avoid them).

    But for the record, evidence of how bad healthcare is in Cuba doesn’t undermine the film’s basic argument — it’s beside the point.

  8. ignorant cuban protesters    Tue Jul 3, 12:52 AM #  

    do your research. i’m sorry but miami’s cubans don’t speak for the cubans actually in cuba. they use their leverage to do exactly what critical miami is bashing this film for: tainting the truth.

    castro hasn’t done anything to his people that bush hasn’t done. because he operates in a less-than-dignified form of government, he has the disadvantage.

    michael moore’s film on bush has tainted his entire reputation. it’s unfortunate. roger & me is still a great fucking documentary. this film is being called his least-biased. miami’s cubans boycott it just because cuba is presented in a fair light. they are worse than people with “fuck bush” bumperstickers. it’s idiotic. this cubans in miami protesting this movie would never protest the iraq “war” but they’ll protest a $10 independent documentary. pussies in my opinion. to protest something sight-unseen is dangerous and the first sign of ignorance.

  9. alesh    Tue Jul 3, 06:52 AM #  

    Oh, I’m sure the Cubans in Cuba are thrilled with their health care system?

    Back on your meds, sir!

  10. Rick    Tue Jul 3, 07:44 AM #  

    I don’t need Michael Moore’s help in deciding how I feel about this issue.

    About what issue, Alesh? The issue that healthcare is a mess in this country or the specific issue that you brought up when you said that Moore traveling to Cuba was a cheap shot?

    If it’s the former, I would agree that you don’t need to see Moore’s film to make that judgment, although the film affirms many things one may already know or believe. If it’s the latter, you’re basically rendering an opinion on something you’ve never seen, weighed or judged for yourself.

    Although you know what everyone says about opinions.


  11. Jonathan    Tue Jul 3, 10:53 AM #  

    America needs to ask this question – Why are we without free healthcare?

    What country has free healthcare? In any country you are paying for it, one way or another, even if it’s called free. In a government-run health system the government is spending your money even if the doctor doesn’t bill you directly. The question is who gets to decide how your (and other taxpayers’) resources are used — either you control your own money and make your own decisions or someone else does. The argument for “nationalized” or “socialized” medicine is nothing more than an argument for socialism. If you think socialism works well, then go for it. But then why stop with health care? Maybe we should nationalize every industry so that it can be as productive as Cuban industry is.

    The argument for socialized medicine is fundamentally an argument for taking away people’s choices and forcing them to accept decisions made for them by bureaucrats. Why is this a good idea? I thought America was about choice.

  12. Rick    Tue Jul 3, 12:03 PM #  

    Jonathan: Are public libraries another argument for socialism?

    And have you seen the movie?


  13. ricks    Tue Jul 3, 12:27 PM #  

    The reality of choice, sometimes, is that millions of Americans have no choice because they have little or no money, therefore, they have no money to purchase their choice of insurance to pay for medical emergencies or ailments. is this the free-way, the free-choice of America?

    I believe the reason our country is behind england, france, and cuba in terms of health of its citizens is because as Americans we are so stressed about buying insurance (of all kinds), keeping up with premiums, making sure our doctors or prescriptions are covered, and even landing a job that has insurance coverage (whether or not we like that job). stress leads to illness, death.

  14. Jonathan    Tue Jul 3, 01:39 PM #  

    ricks: So if some Americans have limited choices the best public response is to reduce choices for all Americans?

    Rick: No and no.

  15. mkh    Tue Jul 3, 01:45 PM #  

    Why do we want to let bureaucrats make the decisions for the less fortunate among us, when we can let the rich and powerful make those decisions? After all, multi-billion dollar corporations only have our best interests at heart. Right?

  16. :)    Tue Jul 3, 01:49 PM #  

    Jonathan: I have a idea why don’t we open up the police and fire departments to the free market as well? after all they are really just socialized services as well. Healthcare ought to be a public utility not a luxury that the rich and the lucky have access to while the poor get shit on. If I got two fingers cut off and I am poor I shouldn’t have to think what can I afford to have a doctor reattach? they should do it because I am a tax payer and a citizen.

  17. Jonathan    Tue Jul 3, 06:19 PM #  

    mkh: Nice straw man. Instead, how about some incremental reforms to make it easier for individuals to make their own decisions? For example: 1) eliminate the tax-based connection between employment and health insurance, 2) deregulate health insurance at the state level so that providers can offer uniform policies nationally and 3) expand medical saving accounts.

    :): Why don’t we have the government run food markets too? That works well in socialist countries. After all, food is too important to leave to the market.

    Free-rider problems, not cost or quality of service, are the reason police and fire services are usually run by governments. There is no similar problem for health services, and there are plenty of examples of successful market-driven health services, and of market-driven insurance to cover catastrophic health problems (like the fingers).

    And if you think poor people get shit on in a market-based system, how do you think they get treated when the government is the only service provider and they can’t go elsewhere? In the French heat wave a few years ago, tens of thousands of old people died, some of them in hospitals or because they were refused admission to hospitals.

  18. mkh    Wed Jul 4, 08:30 AM #  

    Jonathan, the issue here is basically a philosophical one. Capitalism and libertarianism don’t see a society as a collection of human beings, but as market demographics to be … well, I would say exploited, but we’ll say “served,” instead. They accept as axiomatic that a large percentage of people are going to get screwed because they lack sufficient skills, talent, or luck to become rich and secure, and in those belief systems, that’s okay. There are those of us, however, from a wide range of -isms, who don’t accept that axiom, and who feel that all human beings deserve a decent quality of life. There is an irreconcilable difference between those beliefs.

    In my perfect world everyone would have access to a full range of health care options, but I know we’re never going to live in a perfect world. Therefore, I don’t see a problem with everyone contributing to a system to provide a decent level of service — maintenance and preventative care — for everyone. Obviously, hard-core capitalists and libertarians do have a problem with that, because their mantra is “life isn’t fair.”

    I just think we can do better.

  19. Jonathan    Wed Jul 4, 10:31 PM #  

    mkh, you keep arguing against straw men. I am saying something simple: that having more choices is good for health-care consumers who are poor and rich alike; that socialized health-care systems have a lousy record of giving consumers, particularly poor consumers, more choices; and that some specific, incremental reforms in our own imperfect health-care system might be a better course of action than nationalization to improving people’s health-care options in the real world. Do you see flaws in these specific arguments, or does “I just think we can do better” apply to them too?

  20. Rick    Thu Jul 5, 06:40 AM #  

    You’re right, Jonathan. “Particularly poor customers” have choices. They can either go to an emergency room where they may or may not get seen before they pass out or die. If they’re lucky enough to be seen, it will be years before they are out from under the bills they receive as a result of the visit. Or they can stay home and hope for the best. There’s your choices.

    Listening to the retired leader of the UK’s conservative Labour Party discuss the merits of Britain’s health care system is a high point of “Sicko,” in my opinion, but one that you will never see or let yourself be exposed to.


  21. mkh    Thu Jul 5, 07:32 AM #  

    Jonathan, the point I’m trying to make is that your point doesn’t have any more relevance to the discussion than mine, as we are debating philosophy. I can’t say that more choices is necessarily better unless I know what those choices are; you base your position on the unfounded assumption that more choices are always better. We disagree. Socialized health care systems, in your opinion, are always bad; the reports I’ve seen don’t back your assertion.

    I’m not sure I back total nationalized health care, but I am less convinced our system can be repaired through incremental reforms. Based on the performance of our badly broken campaign finance system I suspect so many loopholes would be included — at the insistence of candidates’ financial backers — that we’d be bailing out the Titanic with a straw hat.

    Can you provide something a little meatier than “more choices is always better”? I can’t address a “specific” argument like that, because that isn’t an argument, it’s a faith-based initiative.

  22. My Two Cents    Thu Jul 5, 10:20 AM #  

    My father-in-law died in Cuba because he was unable to get the medicine he needed.

    When we visited him I entered the hospital in Havana where he was given a bed and some old soviet era medicine.

    The hospital was filthy and there was NO real helpful medicine for the sick patients.

    It’s easy to give free health care when it is comprised of NOTHING.

    I have not seen the film yet but I’m sure Mr. Moore was given the State sanitized version of the Cuban Health Care system.

    I’d like free health care but I would also like freedom of choice. I think doctors in this country make way too much money and that the drugs companies are out of control.

  23. alesh    Thu Jul 5, 01:26 PM #  


    I don’t quite see how more choices are the ultimate good with respect to health care. The ultimate good ought to be, you know, getting the healthcare. There are medical situations where there are genuine options, but for most situations, you either get the treatment or don’t.

    One problem with the current system is that many people simply don’t get treatment. Another (as the movie highlights) is that a great majority of people are at risk of bankruptcy if they have a serious medical condition (even if they are insured). The strength of our current system is that the rich have a greater range of choices then they would have under a socialized system, but that doesn’t strike me as a particularly strong argument for it.

    Taking away some of the options the rich currently have in exchange for decent care for everybody strikes me as a pretty good trade-off.

    Why not socialize supermarkets (or whatever other random example you’d care to throw out)? Well, almost everybody in the US can afford a reasonable, nutritious diet. But we can’t seem to afford the decent health care.

    I use the word “decent” advisedly — socialized health care is not as pretty as the posh private system we have now, and under a socialized US healthcare system a visit to a hospital would be less pleasant then it is now. But I think we can live with that. Incidentally, talking about the unpleasantness of the Cuban system is not particularly relevant; Cuba’s system stinks because they have no money. A US system would look pretty different because we’re a rich country.

  24. santita    Thu Jul 5, 02:43 PM #  

    I agree wholeheartedly with your views on Michael Moore and his movies. As a matter of fact, when watching interviews about this movie and his reasoning for going to Cuba, of all places, I have to wonder about his reasoning. Yes everyone who doesn’t have health insurance in this country has horror stories. I believe that the outrageous cost of obtaining basic healthcare in US nowadays, is a direct result of the extremely successful and widely spread malpractice lawsuits that took place during the early 80’s. Of course, hospitals and individual doctors found themselves requiring extremely costly insurance, and it snowballed from there (same with the cost of an average music concert, a result of wrongful death lawsuits on the 80’s, insurance, etc.)
    I think that even someone with a decent paying job (in the upper 90’s) and health insurance has trouble obtaining good care. I don’t think having a tax costly universal health care is the answer. Remember in Canada (this comes from a canadian friend) basically 75% of your salary goes to pay for other people’s health bills, including idiotic Americans who enter Canada to further burden their health system. If Mr. Moore was so concerned with showing what health care could be if an efficient system was put in place, hey fucking show us Thailand, or even India. Has this guy heard of health tourism? I’ll tell you something about it. The city of Bangkok houses one of the best hospitals in the world. Its called Bumrungrad Hospital, it is managed by a well experienced American hospital administrator, the costs for topnotch treatment are almost a joke (I caught a horrible flu infection that turned into an ear infection, and ended paying around 38 dollars for a doctor medicines etc, and let me tell you, the place looked more luxurious than the Mayo Clinic in NY or any other high end hospital I’ve visited in the US) Why can a facility like this work in a somewhat underdeveloped monarchy? I really wouldn’t know all I know is that Thailand does not have a universal health care system that would burden everyone of its residents. Other semi and fully democratic countries have similar facilities yet their countries don’t burden people with this problem. I’m sure Mr. Moore would have had full access to these countries and the administrators of hospitals and clinics like the one I just described, yet the guy decides to go to Cuba of all places. If the guy had any sense of ethics, he would had deducted that the Cuban givernment is more than willing to show a different face to what the facts are. Do you think they are not going to take an opportunity to spread their idiotic propaganda such as the one Moore provided? The reality for cuban Juan del Pueblo is nothing like this I assure you. BTW, I am not Cuban or a staunch republican or any of the like, but I have an objective enough mind to know when a “documentarian” is trying to force feed us bullshit.
    Alesh, thanks for having the voice of reason here.

  25. Jonathan    Fri Jul 6, 09:58 AM #  

    mkh: Rich people are going to do well under any system. For everyone else, I don’t think the practical choice is either/or. Our current system has a mix of market-driven and socialistic features. I think the socialistic parts (VA, Medicaid, Medicare, insurance tied to employment) tend to be sources of problems, and that we’ll do better overall if we shift the socialistic parts of the system in the direction of giving consumers more control over how their money is spent. (Alesh: And for this purpose it doesn’t matter if their money comes from their bank accounts or public subsidies. That’s why the point about grocery stores is important. Retail food supply doesn’t have the problems associated with medicine, because with food everyone is spending his own money, even if it’s food stamps. If we nationalized food distribution to help poor people we would make everyone worse off, including the poor.)

    Alesh and mkh: I think that both of you are making the error of comparing the worst features of our system to the best features of foreign, nationalized systems. My argument is that if you look at medical systems in different countries, the problems tend to be associated with the government-run parts of the systems, or with parts of the systems where regulation distorts markets (e.g., individual health-insurance here).

    Why is there no crisis of veterinary medicine? The technology isn’t much different from that used for humans. The main difference is that veterinary medicine is responsive to customers because it isn’t driven by third-party payment. Also, veterinary medicine doesn’t have a large, government run sector that shifts costs to the private veterinary sector.

    Alesh: Taking away some of the options the rich currently have in exchange for decent care for everybody strikes me as a pretty good trade-off.

    Why do you assume that this tradeoff is available?

    Why not socialize supermarkets (or whatever other random example you’d care to throw out)? Well, almost everybody in the US can afford a reasonable, nutritious diet. But we can’t seem to afford the decent health care.

    I think you’ve got causation backwards. Most people can afford a good diet because food distribution is not overregulated in the way that medicine is.

  26. Dr. Suess    Fri Jul 6, 12:05 PM #  

    Why is there no crisis of veterinary medicine?

    Because if things get too expensive, the animal gets put down, you foolish conservative ideologue.

    Go see the movie, Einstein, and then come back and talk to us.

  27. mkh    Fri Jul 6, 02:40 PM #  

    Hmm, I think you are missing the mark with the veterinarian digression. I’ve heard the “there’s no crisis in veterinary medicine” argument before, but it’s apples and oranges. Although my cats would not like to hear me say this, they aren’t human. I’ve known people who have driven themselves into near-bankruptcy caring for a critically ill pet, but most often the pet is simply euthanized for financial reasons. If it was legal, more people would probably chose to euthanize critically ill humans rather than bankrupt their families, too, but we don’t need to take this discussion any futher afield.

    I do not trust governments or corporations, but of the two, I have more trust in governments because they operate slowly and with tremendous internal conflict. Corporations are united in their goal to make as great as profit as possible, free from the constraints of conscience or morality. I cannot believe that a fully unregulated health care system would do anything but maximize the suffering of Americans, while achieving such spectacular profits as to buy our government for decades to come.

  28. Jonathan    Fri Jul 6, 03:23 PM #  

    mkh: If you look at the reforms I suggested you can see that I very much do not want to shift responsibility for health decisions from government to corporations. The whole point of my argument is that too many health decisions in the USA are made for individuals by third parties, and that shifting those decisions from corporate third parties to governmental third parties isn’t likely to improve the system. What we should do is shift more of these decisions to individual health-care consumers. Socializing medicine does the opposite.

    The point about veterinary medicine is that you can easily buy whatever level of care you want, and the industry caters to your needs because you, the pet owner, rather than an insurance company or government, are paying the bills. The fact that you can spend a lot of money is a red herring. You can spend too much money on cigars or beach balls too, but no one sees that as some kind of market failure. You can’t get something for nothing, and high-tech medicine is expensive. Historically, setting up government programs to provide expensive goods and services to citizens at below-market prices leads inevitably to excessive demand, followed by either rationing or quality degradation or both, and these effects are apparent in socialized medical systems around the world. If you want to provide medical care for poor people, give them money and let them buy their care directly, the way they buy food and everything else, rather than overturning the remaining market-based parts of our medical system.

  29. mkh    Fri Jul 6, 05:48 PM #  

    “You can’t get something for nothing, and high-tech medicine is expensive.”

    Agreed, but the unfortunate corollary to this is that “expensive” treatment is often the difference between life and death. The first decision we have to make is where to draw the line between “too poor to afford to survive” and “wealthy enough to live forever.” Is an organ transplant a luxury or a necessity? For that matter, what exactly is the price tag we put on life?

    And when I was referring to corporations I wasn’t clear. I don’t mean insurance companies; I mean the actual providers — pharmaceutical companies, physicians’ consortiums, hospital conglomerates, et cetera. Allowing citizens to make their own decisions is valid, as long as those groups are forced via oversight and regulation to put aside their greed and set fair prices. A free market works pretty well on easily created commodities or luxury goods, but when your child’s life hangs in the balance, do you really want to trust that your provider won’t take advantage of your fear, and rob you of your own life in payment?

  30. Jonathan    Sat Jul 7, 04:33 AM #  

    People are greedy everywhere. Governmental regulatory agencies tend to hinder innovation and become coopted by the industries they regulate, which use the regulators to stifle upstart competitors. I would argue that the best way to make medical service providers accountable to consumers is by increasing the ability of consumers to make their own health decisions (spend their own money) and by encouraging competition among service providers.

  31. mkh    Sun Jul 8, 10:18 AM #  

    Jonathan, I respect the strength of your convictions, but we are going to have to “agree to disagree” on this. I believe an unregulated free market inevitably evolves toward minimizing both consumer benefit and consumer choice; you don’t. It’s a matter of faith.

  32. Jonathan    Sun Jul 8, 06:45 PM #  


  33. :)    Sun Jul 8, 09:26 PM #  

    I don’t trust the government in America. but I don’t trust the corporations even more. Therefor in matters of life and death I prefer the government. and there is great testimony in sicko about an insurance worker/ whistle-blower that proves my point Insurance companies are designed to make money not to make america have a great healthcare system and extent the lives of Americans. Maybe a good compromise would be that all insurance companies have to be non-proffit.

  34. Jonathan    Mon Jul 9, 06:20 PM #  

    Maybe a good compromise would be that all insurance companies have to be non-proffit.

    So they won’t be allowed to make money, but they’ll still sell us insurance? You have more confidence in insurance companies than you think.