So, I saw Sicko last night. It’s damn good. Go see it.
And yes, I’ve heard some in the media calling Michael Moore on some incomplete story-telling, and heard Moore being defensive about it.
But in getting into this particular pissing match, both Moore and his critics completely miss the point. With health care, there are many, many opportunities to miss the point, and many special interests with buckets of red herrings to distract us from the central, unbending, unforgiving moral question:
Do we leave people to their own devices to pay for their own medical care; or do we hang together and cover everyone’s necessary care — no questions asked?
Other democracies have answered that question unflinchingly in the affirmative — and a series of policy decisions flows forth from that central principle of human decency — that the vast majority of people simply wouldn’t abide their countrymen being denied medical care. Yes, there are waitlists in Canada; many complaints and private insurance supplements in the UK; low-paid docs in France. But this is all a matter of wonking the policy: The central principle is the same.
I love thinking about health care policy. But one need not know anything about health care policy to have moral scruples. You don’t need to know about “moral hazard” or “adverse selection” to know that our system is utterly immoral — any more than you need to know the balk rule in order to root for the Red Sox. I think it’s good to have our candidates show us their list of policy priorities in health care, as a show of good faith, thoughtfulness, and priorities.
But as for most of us, that’s not where we are. And that’s OK. It’s July of 2007. We’ve got 16 months before the Presidential election, and somewhat more time than that before the next president and congress take up the issue. We don’t know what’s going to be “politically viable” by then.
Right now, it’s critical that we know our values, that we actively frame the debate according to them, and that we tell our leaders their mission: Give people the health care they need. Make it happen. And don’t accept any excuses or half-measures.
I’ll have more soon on a major void: our weak, fractured health-care-activist infrastructure.