Dear Michael Moore,
All right, I give up. You’ve won me over. I don’t think I’m ever going to like you very much, but I’ve come to believe that you’re a necessary evil, and I’m at the point where I’ll accept almost anything that fights the current regime and the multiple messes that exist in this country—not all of them the direct result of Monkey Boy and his thugs. The health care crisis existed before the Smirking Chimp ever shambled out of the tar pits of deepest Texas to smear our precious Constitution with his feces.
Trouble is, Michael, you’re a liar, and I don’t like liars. You’re also a propagandist, and I’m not very comfortable with those, either.
What I’ve finally accepted is what you are not. You are not a journalist. Therefore, you have no obligation to present the other side of the story. You are not really a documentarian, though your films resemble documentaries. You are an advocate, a debater, and as such, you may shade your argument—another term for lie—in the service of what you (and I) see as a greater good … though I have to swallow hard to say that. I want to believe that the truth will out, but with Fox News—and for that matter, the New York Times and the Washington Post and CBS and CNN and the whole tremulous rat pack, the disgraces to journalism that we now call the “mainstream press,” kowtowing to the power structure, swallowing lies and liking it … I can no longer see my way clear to playing fair, straight, and honest. It’s a sad world when I have to accept the likes of you as my spokesman, but there it is.
We have a tumultuous history together, Michael, you and I. I loved your Roger and Me. I ate up your impression of the little guy doing battle with the powers that be. You had obviously found your metier, and did a grand job of exposing the rot underlying Big Corporate America.
Then came Bowling For Columbine, where you tried to tell me (among many other howlers) that Canadians living in big cities don’t bother to lock their doors, and where you ambushed an Alzheimer’s sufferer in his own home. That man was Charlton Heston, who I detest with all my heart and soul, and you managed to make me feel sorry for him. Shame on you, Michael. You seemed to be arguing for gun control, which is a concept I heartily endorse, but you didn’t have much intelligent to say about it, and seemed clueless (as am I) about what to do about it. It ain’t the guns themselves, it seems. Canadians have guns. What to do, what to do? Well, what you did was hurl some shit and hoped some of it stuck to something. Terrible movie.
See, I was still believing, way back then in 2002, that telling lies in a good cause is counterproductive to your cause. People will point out your errors and omissions, your slanted pictures, your cherry-picking of facts, and you will lose your credibility.
Then came Fahrenheit 9/11. Okay, I know when I’m licked, Michael. It didn’t sway the election, but I believe it played a big part in the cascade of revelations that by now has flushed Monkey Boy and his thugs far down the sewer pipe toward the cesspool of history. For that, I will forgive almost anything.
Now we have SiCKO. Once again we have a presentation of the stories that advance your case, even if they are dubious. Yes, I was outraged and sickened and near tears at the tales of people who have suffered at the hands of the so-called “health care” system in these United States. Yes, I chuckled as you led us though the paradises on Earth that are the health care systems in Canada, Great Britain, and France. Even Cuba. So what if, with only a teeny bit of googling, I was able to discover that most of those horror stories were resolved in the patients’ favor long before you filmed them. So what if the Canadians, the Brits, and the French all have troubles of their own with their systems? Fifteen percent of British subjects are so fed up with the National Health that they pay for their own medical care out of their own pockets. Which means they pay twice, since their taxes already support the system. (And so what? By definition, these are people who can afford it. Let ‘em pay twice.) Canadians do tend to wait longer for elective procedures than we do in the US … but those of us with no insurance (like me) often can’t afford them at all. For those of you with insurance, it’s a crapshoot as to whether the for-profit HMOs will cover something.
So once more, Michael, we have a lot of half truths, misdirection, flagrant appeals to emotion, and flat-out phony data. Yes, sir, step right up, which cup is the little pea under? Surely you can pick the red queen out of just three cards after I shuffle them, can’t you, sir? The various pundits and editorialists and opinion-makers are gleefully pointing them out as I write. Just take a look; they’re easy to find.
The most egregious fault here, to my mind, is the consistent references to “free” medical care to all. This is not unique to you, Michael, I know that. Proponents of socialized (egad, don’t use that word whatever you do, not in America!) medicine consistently refer to it as free. It is, of course, not free, never has been, never will be. Canadians, Brits, French, and the people of all other countries who have such a system pay for their medical care through their taxes. If we get such a system in the US, your taxes will go up. There is absolutely no doubt of this.
And you know what? Fuck ‘em. Fuck ‘em and the HMOs they rode in on. They’re going to throw a lot of horse manure in your eyes, hoping that you will miss the main point that even most Republicans admit: Our health care, touted as the “best in the world” (and it is, it is, if you can afford it), is in a shambles. Doctors hate it, patients hate it. Everybody hates it except for the insurance companies, HMOs, and drug manufacturers, who have been growing fat as pigs wallowing in slop for decades now as layer after layer of administrative costs have been heaped on our groaning backs.
To me, it all comes down to this. You enter a hospital, either bleeding and on a stretcher, or doubled over in pain from who-knows-what. You’re terrified. You may be dying. Which would you prefer to be the first words out of the admission nurse’s mouth:
A) “Who’s paying for this?”
B) “Tell me where it hurts, and how can I help make it stop?”
Here’s something I know for sure: For all their drawbacks and, yes, costs, you would have to search a long time to find a Canadian, Brit, or Frenchperson who would like to get rid of the National Health and go to a system of private insurers … beyond those 15% of disgruntled Brits, of course. Similar percentages apply in every nation that has socialized medicine. Here’s another thing: By a huge majority, most Americans want a system like that. Even though it will raise their taxes! Poll after poll has shown this. So why don’t we have it? Well, look at the health care lobbyists in DC, and you do the math. Virtually all of our legislators have been bought and paid for. Michael, you even put price tags on their heads in this film, and I love you for it. (Hillary commanded a very nice fee, but not nearly as much as Monkey Boy.)
And here’s another thing. (And I don’t have the facts at my fingertips, so I’ll make them up, like you, and like the Republicans. I’m sure they’re in the ballpark.) HMOs and their like add from 20 to 30 cents in administrative costs to every dollar we spend on health care. The much-despised Medicare and programs like it add about 5 cents on the dollar. I’ve never been an advocate of government programs, I agree that most of them could fuck up a two-car funeral, but the math here is really, really simple.