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How to Catch the Wind of the Spirit

The Film "Sicko"

THE FILM “SICKO”

A review by John Lobell

            I laughed and cried my way all through the viewing of Michael Moore’s film essay, Sicko. It’s the story of the inevitably hypocritical and cruel results of having our nation’s health system administered by for-profit insurance companies.  Their interests are in direct conflict with the interests of the patients – us.  The more claims they deny, the more money they have for their profit.  It’s that simple!  Moore’s investigations go behind the hype and spin of the wealthy insurance companies.  He investigates the experience of doctors and patients in four countries with state-financed (via taxes, the same way we finance our police and fire departments, schools, armed services, etc.) which are Canada, Great Britain, France and Cuba.  The patients and doctors in those countries give touching witness to the good health care they are able to give and receive to everyone in their respective countries – including visitors!  They believe it is humane and a good thing to share the good things in life with all – to take care of each other.  They share their consternation at what we put up with in our own country.  Our doctors, nurses and other personnel are well trained and our hospitals are great.  But they remain beyond the financial reach of far too many Americans.  And not just the poor.  It’s a disgrace the way many middle class people are bankrupted by lack of insurance coverage, even many who believed until it happened to them that they were appropriately covered.  The film also raises the question of why should the poor be excluded – especially in a country that calls itself Christian, when Jesus calls us all to serve and minister to the poor.  I’ll only file by title the aggravation everyone (doctors and patients) has with the paper work craziness of our present system, with its constantly changing rules and even the ever-changing names of companies who are running this show.

            If you haven’t seen this film, I implore you to see it soon.  It’s a clear call to change our health care system.  I’m glad it’s beginning to become a political issue in our country.  We need change, and the ballot box is the only way to change it.  The wealth of the entrenched industry, and its control of the information (and mis-information) is against change.  Only the expressed will of the people can change it.  This is not a partisan issue!  This is a human issue of great importance for every one of us.

Comments

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Heather Kirk-Davidoff

Dan and I saw "Sicko" this past Friday, and I was also very touched by the unnecessary pain and suffering that sick and hurting people in this country experience as a result of the health insurance industry's drive to maximize profits. I was particularly struck by the brave doctor who testified to congress about how she had been rewarded for denying claims when she worked at an HMO.

But what has stayed with me for days after seeing the movie is the way in which Moore built his case for change by vividly portraying positive alternatives. He talks to doctors and patients in Great Britain and France, and actually takes patients to Cuba to receive medical care. I found these scenes very compelling--they made the movie more than a rant, but rather an invitation to imagine an alternative.

I want to take a lesson from this. Sometimes, the only reason why we don't make a change is because we can't imagine that things could be any different, any better than they are now. This seems to me to be one of the reasons why Jesus sat and ate with tax collectors and prostitutes at his table. He was showing everyone what the Kingdom of God looked like--and thereby igniting in them some desire to move in that direction.

I think we now need to engage in this work around global cimate change. We know there's a problem--Gore's movie laid that out for us quite starkly. But can we imagine a solution? That not a technical question--not HOW are we going to design electric cars, etc. Rather, cann we imagine a world where we consume less energy? Who is going to make a movie that gives a positive invitation into that alternative world?

Ruth Alice

Heather,

You appreciated SICKO because it gave positive alternatives and wonder who will make a movie about global warming solutions.

Well there is such a movie. It is called "The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil" To quote from its web page:
"When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba's economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people during this difficult time. Cubans share how they transitioned from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens. It is an unusual look into the Cuban culture during this economic crisis, which they call "The Special Period." The film opens with a short history of Peak Oil, a term for the time in our history when world oil production will reach its all-time peak and begin to decline forever. Cuba, the only country that has faced such a crisis – the massive reduction of fossil fuels – is an example of options and hope."

Several groups are co-sponsoring a showing of this movie in Columbia in early September. It will be widely advertised, so you will get notice when the date it set.

See: http://www.powerofcommunity.org and
and http://www.communitysolution.org/.

Communitysolution.org promotes the movie, and also gives many other positive things people can do in the face of the coming Peak Oil (worldwide oil depletion) and climate change challenges.

A group in Howard County is starting several 4 week long discussion groups on what individuals can do (by themselves and through advocacy) to learn about and adopt global warming solutions. To express interest in joining a discussion group later this summer or in the fall, email: nspmaryland@gmail.com

Finally, Howard County Citizens can read the Commission on the Environment and Sustainability draft committee recommendations on the right side of the Commission's webpage: http://www.co.ho.md.us/CES/CES_HomePage.htm

The recommendations cover a whole range of environmental efforts, all desirable but some with little or no impact on the County's global warming "carbon footprint" impact. Email JDFeldmark@howardcountymd.gov a comment asking that the 8/31/07 FINAL report give priority to recommendations that will do the MOST to solve global warming.

Also email Josh at JDFeldmark@howardcountymd.gov if you plan to attend the presentation on proposed Howard County green building legislation Wednesday July 11th at 7PM at the Ellicott Room of the George Howard Building. Directions can be found here:
http://www.howardcountymd.gov/GIS/gisdocs/EllicottCity.pdf

Daniel Kirk-Davidoff

I like the movie a lot as well, but had a couple of negative reactions, which I'll toss in here to keep things lively. First, I thought the Cuba trip was a mistake- I thought the firemen lining up to greet the Americans at the end, looked a little uncomfortable, like this was not exactly their idea, and worried about Moore being so cozy with a state that's so intolerant of dissent. Second, I felt a little awkward about the woman whose husband died of kidney cancer. My Dad died of this too, and I've kept track of developments a bit, and I don't have the sense that really agressive chemotherapy + bone marrow transplants has been shown to do much good. My guess is that a really just health system would spend *less* money on dicey chemotherapy for cancer than we currently do, and more money on community medicine for people with diabetes and other chronic diseases. Finally, as a client of Kaiser Permanente, I'm basically a fan of the (non-profit) organization, and so was interested to see what they'd have to say in reply to Moore's particular gripes with them. I was glad to see that they had posted a reply on their website and thought it was helpful. I'd be interested to know what role they played in the early nineties effort to reform health care. Their reply is posted here.

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