Monday, July 23, 2007

Sicko - Moore versus the media

Mike Moore's new movie, Sicko, takes aim at the American healthcare system, and by the look of it, the entire corporate media is closing ranks to defend the rotten system. Not just the conservative wingnuts who would argue if Moore said water was wet, but the (supposedly) liberal media like CNN. And Mike is taking aim right back at them.

PZ Myers points out that the supposed "facts" argued by CNN's hired-gun doctor differed from Moore's only by trivial amounts: e.g. the claim that Moore was wrong to say that Cuba spends $251 per person per year on health care when the "correct" figure is $229.

Now, honestly, figures like $251 and $229 have utterly spurious accuracy: it is beyond credibility that the government of Cuba, or any other country, knows medical spending down to the closest dollar. (The medical budget and the actual spending are only approximately the same.) Mathematically, I'd be surprised if we could do any better than round both of them to "about $240", give or take twenty dollars.

But that's not the most important point.

The important point is that even if CNN's hired gun was right, even if Moore's figures were wrong and his were correct, the US would be spending $6000 per year per person on health care to get results barely better than Cuba was for their $230. The US rates #37 in the world for the quality of health care, compared to Cuba #39. That's the scandal, and supposedly liberal CNN is trying to whitewash that by pedantically nit-picking on a few allegedly wrong numbers, as if a difference of a few dollars was really significant.

One of the comments on PZ's blog describes Mike Moore as "a propagandist, muck raker, and rabble rouser". I knew I liked the man. When society is broken, it takes a muck raker and rabble rouser to drag the sickness into the light. Another comment pointed out that one half of the one million bankruptcies in the US in 2000 were because people couldn't pay their medical bills. I expect the figure is even higher now.

One million bankruptcies per year is a frighteningly high figure, and one which casts a completely different light on the American Dream. That's a proportion of about one bankruptcy per 300 people. By comparison, Australia's bankruptcy rate is the highest since records began, at one per 800 people.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When society is insane, only satire speaks the truth. Michael Moore, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert... They are examples of what sanity looks like in insane times.