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SICKO
U.S. Release Date: June 22, 2007
Distributor: Lionsgate
Director: Michael Moore
Running Time: 2 hours and 3 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (brief strong language)

Medical Profession Distorted in Emotionalist Diatribe
by Scott Holleran

The Bill O'Reilly of pseudo-documentaries, self-promotional blowhard Michael Moore, presents Sicko, a distortion of reality from start to finish that purports to address a crucial issue: health care.

Having declined to review Moore's smash, Fahrenheit 9/11, and having missed his anti-business Roger and Me and anti-gun Bowling for Columbine, this writer was prepared to laugh, or at least chuckle, at the mess that constitutes today's mongrel health care system in America (and I've covered health policy for newspapers and non-profits). But this hooey, billed as a comedy, is as funny as a heart attack.

Moore covers health care like Fox News covers religion and the war in Iraq—without providing essential facts. He starts with the claim that 18,000 people die each year from a lack of health insurance, an idiotic assertion. People die. They die of cancer, heart disease and other causes. Individuals have a right to choose not to buy insurance (an idea governors Mitt Romney, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ed Rendell reject)—and that means they choose to live without securing a means of paying for catastrophic illness.

Taking personal responsibility is not among Moore's values. Neither is disclosing whether he met with communist dictator Fidel Castro or Cuba's Communist Party officials to obtain special treatment for those Americans he illegally brought to the island dictatorship for medical treatment, a low act of depravity, even for Moore, who tacks on a singularly offensive display of communist propaganda. How many enslaved Cubans died so that his pre-selected participants could get cheaper drugs and a new set of teeth? This is a country where kids are stripped of their milk ration at the age of six.

That the dishonest Cuba portion—morally repugnant to anyone who recognizes man's rights—provides Sicko's climax ought to tip the movie's theme that a society ruled by force is acceptable; the ends justify the means. That there is no right to speech, travel or association in Cuba, let alone the right to make—or see—a movie, is lost on Moore and his sick bunch.

Tracked by overbearing music, emotionalist pitches—a diseased couple with six kids is shocked they can't afford health care in their elder years yet we never learn about how they chose to spend their money and what treatment decisions they've made—and a moral premise that health care is a right, Sicko grates on and on, neither making an argument or an especially interesting or amusing point.

Key assertions are false. For example, when Moore blasts Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)—a term created by a leftist college professor, which Moore does not disclose—using the Nixon administration's HMO Act, he conceals that the bill's primary sponsor was a liberal Democrat: Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. That's right: the leftist intellectuals railing against HMOs are the bastards who created them—by force, requiring that American businesses include HMOs in employee health coverage.

You'd never know that from Sicko, which also fails to mention that every world leader from King Hussein to Boris Yeltsin sought medical treatment in the world's most productive nation with the best quality health care: the United States of America.

Moore is on firmer ground when he points out that socialized medicine was expanded by America's current president, a devout Christian who agrees that health care is a right, though Moore doesn't describe it that way.

The fact—despite manipulative flashes of socialized medicine in Britain, Canada and France—is that, for all intents and purposes, America already has socialized medicine (that is the proper term for government intervention in the medical profession), and it's typically instituted by conservatives. Medicare—subsidized care for every American over age 65—is not capitalism. Moore ignores this self-evident truth and the possibility that government-controlled health care is impractical because it is immoral.

Moore is no more interested in exploring morality than are the conservatives who shoved Medicare drug subsidies down our throats (emptying our wallets), leaving Sicko holding up one of L.A.'s worst hospitals—the dreaded government-run King/Drew medical center—as a model, harming his subjects with invasive camera crews and praising the idea that, in Moore's words, "one guy changes everyone's mind." We've seen that type of political system, dictatorship, in countries like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, where medicine was controlled by the state, everyone supposedly had health care—and no one had rights.


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