It’s not simply that Mr. Moore is wrong. His grand tour of public health care systems misses the big story: While he prescribes socialism, market-oriented reforms are percolating in cities from Stockholm to Saskatoon.
Mr. Moore goes to London, Ontario, where he notes that not a single patient has waited in the hospital emergency room more than 45 minutes. “It’s a fabulous system,” a woman explains.
I wish I had the motivation right now to track down one of the articles about the Canadian critics response to the movie at Cannes.
In Britain, he tours a hospital where patients marvel at their free care. A patient’s husband explains: “It’s not America.” Humorously, Mr. Moore finds a cashier dispensing money to patients (for transportation). In France, a doctor explains the success of the health-care system with the old Marxist axiom: “You pay according to your means, and you receive according to your needs.”
So, I wasn’t going to say anything about this, but since I’m on the topic, and since it really was so funny, this is what Mark Kermode had to say about it on Five Live the other week (transcribed by moi):
(Kermode) Incidentally, on the subject of Michael Moore, I did see Sicko when I was in Cannes, which is his new documentary on how rubbish the the American health service or lack of it is, and I have to say as a Michael Moore work goes it’s actually one of the better ones, it is quite funny. Except for the bits when he comes to London and he gets treated by a National Health Service which clearly he’s gone to Narnia, because there’s this fantastic national health service in which if you have a cough, and you’re somewhere, they’ll send a taxi, they’ll take you to a four star hotel, doctors who earn a million a year and drive Jaguars will look after you and on the way back they’ll give you a cashload of money and say “go home now”. But other than that –
(Mayo) Do you get a going home present? Like at a party?
You do, you do. I mean, it’s a classic Michael Moore thing in that he’s very funny until he talks about something you know about. I mean, anything at all, and then you realize that he’s really skimming the surface and it makes you wonder about everything else. But! That said, the thesis of it is perfectly fine, you know, national health, public health: good; private health: not good. So that’s fine. Anyway.
I thought that was hilarious.