February 17, 2009


I'm not a big MM fan, but Sicko was pretty interesting. It's on heavy rotation now on the movie channels here, and I can see why. In general it seems Europeans don't know or perhaps don't believe how the US system actually works - and vice versa. While it certainly is a biased movie, it doesn't seem to actually misrepresent the situation much. The only thing that is just silly is the Cuban stunt at the end. Fine, it hammers down the point, but I don't think it was necessary and its sensationalism damages the movie as a whole. 

So was the french doctor right, is it impossible for the US to get a similar system? Well, I had a brief optimistic spell, thinking that the US was perhaps ripe for real progress. I still think that enough Americans are willing to change, even in very drastic ways. But I think it is clear that Obama is not the man to push them along. Is there ever going to be a better time to push for universal health care than now, as part of the rescue package? Hopefully not. So why isn't it in there? It could have been sold as a way to level the playing field for the auto industry, a way to make unemployment checks go longer and a way to improve worker mobility. Surely it can be sold as a way to streamline healthcare, an industry that is dragging down the country by being preposterously inefficient. 

The sad truth is that universal healthcare seems to come about only in the wake of a devastating national tragedy (think WWII), during the formation of a new country or as part of a communist revolution. Since neither the dissolution of the USA, nor its reformation as a communist country are very likely in the near future, it seems reasonable to assume that UH can only make it in the US if the economy starts to go really downhill - depression style - or if it just refuses to improve in any fashion for a few years. Maybe Obama will be able to push it through in his second term. I guess that will have to pass for optimism for now.


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