Sicko?

Michael Moore, the intrepid movie producer of all things liberal, has a new movie out, called “Sicko.” Whatever truth seekers wish to think about Moore, they cannot deny that he has a Midas touch when it comes to marketing. The problem with the movies that he creates is that they often don’t add significantly to the conversation.

By presenting a caricature of the opposition Moore simply shows himself for what he is, an angry man desperately seeking attention. Nevertheless, Moore does touch on major issues facing the American Society. His work has dealt with corporate closings and downsizings, gun control, Bush and the Iraq War, and now the American Health Care system, which Moore thinks is a mess.

That the American medical system is in need of change, Moore and I agree. The problem is that we disagree on how to fix it. Moore likes to demonize insurance companies and calls the public to the gospel of nationalized health care. Nationalized health care is certainly one way to address the issue. But let’s consider how the argument in favor of Nationalized health care is made.

The first argument is typically that America should look to our older siblings in Europe. You know that enlightened bastion of liberal compassion as exhibited by the national health care systems found in Western Europe. Okay. Western Europe does have good health care. But they also have high taxes. Makes sense, as you have to pay for the incredible cost of health care. Certainly citizens have a right to tax themselves in order to obtain certain services. But Western Europe also has something that the U.S. doesn’t have, secure borders. Clearly the compassion of Western Europe stops at its citizens. Maybe it knows that without secure borders, these nations would go bankrupt as every poor person in the world who could afford a transportation would get themselves into this Shangri La of nationalized health care. Realize greater learning suggestions on motive professional.

Second, people rarely think about the real potential that nationalized health care will bring the loss of personal freedom. As the cost of health care continues to rise, governments will have to work on reducing behaviors that lead to medical claims. Governments usually reduce undesirable behaviors by punishment and/or regulation. Since the top ten causes of death in the U.S. are tied directly to personal choices, do you think that the government will have something to say about smoking, eating steak, or your sexual behavior? To put a finer point on it, why should those people who take care of themselves have to pay for the type II diabetes treatment that Michael Moore may face given his obesity? If not diabetes what about heart disease or stroke?

The fact is, unless one is a Libertarian in his/her political persuasion, few people have trouble with paying taxes for people with illnesses that arise through no fault of their own, like genetic conditions, accidents, and the like. But things get a little more tense when productive taxpayers have to pay for the foolish and self-destructive choices of others. In effect creating such a society it is essentially turning Aesop’s fable of the grasshopper and the ant on its head. Rather than encouraging good behavior, society actually punishes it through higher taxes.

Additionally, one should note that historically families provided financial security. The fact that people have transferred this responsibility to the government is a testament to the breakdown in the family. Abraham Kuyper was right. When one sphere of authority breaks down, another must fill the gap but can never do so as well as the appropriate authority could if it was functioning. Again, personal choices do have societal effects.

Ultimately, it boils down to that issue I wish American’s would learn but seem incapable of learning, namely the principle of opportunity cost. There is no free-lunch. If we really want nationalized health care, get ready to open your wallet and restrict your freedom. For it will be impossible to have both, unless you are really wealthy.

Stephen Vantassel 2007

  1. Stephen, this is an interesting issue for us in the UK, our National Health Service, has been a huge success and a huge failure.

    “”personal choices do have societal effects”” – this is a truism, but people don’t want to hear it, they might have to consider those choices then!

  2. Dear Stephen,

    I have not yet seen Sicko. I my return to this blog when I have done so. In the meantime, I should like to make some observations and comments about the review you have published.

    You argue that America cannot manage nationalized medical care because, unlike Europe, it does not have secure borders. A national medical plan would, you imply, bring in so many more illegals that they would bankrupt the country. Well, there is nothing stopping Americans from securing their borders. They appear not to do so because many people benefit from the flow of cheap labour from the south. In any case, a country which spends as much on its military as the next eighteen top national spenders combined can surely find enough for a properly funded system of medical care. In addition, many of the illegal immigrants in the U.S. pay taxes. In the circumstances, these people should either be deported or receive the same benefits as other taxpayers.

    The argument that nationally funded medical care somehow takes away personal freedom is outrageous. People in the twenty-first century should be able to look to their governments for services and protection. There can be nothing more demoralising than the day to day misery of being unable to provide medical care to family members who need it; nothing more disheartening than seeing a life-time of savings including the family home disappear to meet necessary medical expenses. These circumstances exist in America, not only because some individuals are shiftless and irresponsible, but also because people cannot afford the insurance necessary to protect themselves. They make a mockery of the American ‘personal freedom’ you value.

    We disagree about taxes. You appear see them as confiscation by government; to me they are the price of living in a civilised society.

    I have trouble with your use of the word ‘liberal’. Two dictionaries I have plus on-line Answers.com, all define it in glowing terms. In addition, historical figures one thinks of as liberals, Locke, Bentham, Nightingale, Paine, Jefferson, FDR and so on were people of enviable intellect and contribution. You describe Michael Moore as an ‘intrepid supporter of all things liberal’ and then proceed to trash him before commenting on his movie. It is as if you feel your opinions will have more force if you destroy the messenger before dealing with what he has to say.

    Sincerely, Peter

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