Last night, I saw the premiere of Michael Moore's new film, Sicko, along with a theater full of legislators, legislative staff, lobbyists, and other political types and policy wonks. Moore himself was there as well, to introduce the film and answer a handful of (almost entirely friendly) questions after the screening. It was a good film. It won't pack houses like Fahrenheit 9/11, but it will be seen by its target audience, I'm sure.
I've discussed the screening and the film more thoroughly over at Metroblogging Sacramento, if you're curious. But one part of the movie warrants separate coverage here.
Moore's film begins by highlighting our failure in comparison to the rest of the world. According to he World Health Organization's ranking of the world's health systems, we come in at a shameful #37. This puts us, Moore is quick to point out with amusing visual hyperbole, just one mark above a butcher with a hack saw that is the primary provided for #38 Slovenia. Moore shows a graphic of the rankings. He focuses on a swath in the upper 30s that includes us and Slovenia.
Now, let me break for a moment to touch on the aspect of the movie getting the most media attention right now: Moore's trip to Cuba with a handful of ailing 9/11 rescue workers to seek medical care they've been unable to attain or afford here in the US. It's a classic Moore party trick and I think the film suffers for his lack of discipline. It wasn't needed. It detracts from his main message. But so be it.
The screaming, raging, head-scratcher of a problem?
Let's go back to that WHO ranking and the graphic shown with it at the start of the film.
To review, we've got the United States at #37, Slovenia at #38, and, why, who's that at #39? Let's look - I'll even circle it for you, in case you can't tell what I'm talking about:
Meet #39, our friend, Cuba.
Sloppy film making? Some broader message we're meant to deduce? Something that will come back to bite Moore's large message squarely in its uninsured butt? You make the call.