July 13, 2007

Sick Mind

Call it a moment of weakness. One of our junior editors—let’s just call him “Chip”—found himself waiting for some mediocre Japanese take-out the other day.

But, no, that wasn’t the moment of weakness. Rather, good ole’ “Chip” had neglected to bring with him any reading material. Since this particular Japanese establishment was a mite on the slow side, “Chip” usually made his way through numerous pages of a good book before his order appeared.

On this occasion, however, “Chip” was without a trusty read. Here, dear reader, is where the moment of weakness occurred. “Chip,” lacking literary sustenance, turned his attention to the freebee bins at the entrance to this particular eatery.

You know the sort of drivel one typically finds in such nooks: The Carrboro Communist Monthly; Revolutionary Workers’ World; &c. Basically, these free rags merely offer their readership the chance to take in some left-wing agitprop and a few advertisements for the local strip clubs.

“Chip,” however, picked up another magazine entirely: The Onion. Although he seldom reads it, “Chip” finds The Onion generally quite funny.

Unbeknownst to “Chip,” however, The Onion features a non-humor section that offers its readership the chance to take in some left-wing agitprop and a few advertisements for the local strip clubs. You know, for a change of pace.

And in this dubious section of the paper “Chip” found it: The dumbest review imaginable of Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko. Penned by a fellow called Scott Tobias, it was so obtuse that “Chip” yearned to chuck it at anyone within throwing distance. (Which, given “Chip’s” former life as a high school shot put star, is pretty far indeed.)

Now, before some of our reader(s) roll their eyes at our mention of Michael Moore, allow us to inform you that we are not dead-set (if that is the mot juste) against national healthcare. Call us a passel of mephitic hippies (if you will), but we’re somewhat drawn to the idea—albeit, like most, it leaves us with some trepidation.

In regard to Mr. Moore, moreover, we must say we don’t watch his films. Not, we must add, out of any scorn for listening to the “other side.” As regular reader(s) of our humble musings well know, we check out our fair share of arguments from ideological opponents.

Rather, we don’t find propaganda-filled documentaries interesting. We esteem films that make you think—not agitprop-laden simplifications crafted for simpletons. In addition, from what we’ve read about his previous efforts, we have little reason to believe Mr. Moore doesn’t regularly bend the truth, to put it mildly.

But back to the subject of the Neanderthal review. Although “Chip” subsequently happened upon a longer—and less ridiculous—version of this review on Al Gore’s World-Wide Web, below he has reproduced the shorter version that appeared before his eyes on the printed page:

There's no good argument to be made for the current system of privatized health care in the United States, so the latest documentary by professional rabble-rouser Michael Moore stands to be the closest he'll ever come to broad consensus. Though Moore remains a polarizing figure—as much to leftists ambivalent about his tactics as rightists who object to him for more obvious reasons—he has a gift (yes, it's a gift) for reducing complex issues to bite-sized ideological nuggets. And the ones Sicko offers are, by and large, pretty tasty.

As you might imagine, dear reader, it’s the first sentence of this review that especially appalls. “There’s no good argument to be made for the current system of privatized health care in the United States”? None at all?

Now, as we mentioned above, we’re not knee-jerk defenders of privatized health care. But only a dolt would argue that no good arguments in its favor exist. And thus, as it seems, Scott Tobias is a dolt.

For how do the following arguments strike you? The US’s privatized health care has led it to be the number one source of medical breakthroughs. It routinely offers the newest and best experimental treatments, as it offers the best incentive to researchers to find cures.

Socialized medicine can often lead to horrible service, ridiculous and often dangerously long waits for treatment, and politicized corruption. As a result of such depredations, Canadians routinely head to America to receive better medical care; you don’t see Americans heading north, now do you?

Now, we don’t think our arguments necessarily gainsay national healthcare as a bad idea. But they obviously pose serious concerns. Not, however, to Scott Tobias, who praises Michael Moore for “reducing complex issues into bite-sized ideological nuggets.”

If Mr. Tobias thinks no good arguments in favor of privatized medicine exist, how can he perceive that medical care in the US is a “complex issue”?

Posted at July 13, 2007 12:01 AM | TrackBack