January 14, 2008

Sicko and the Guerilla Girls

Posted in social justice, U.S. politics at 3:40 am by LB

I ran across this Guerilla Girls poster, and I was reminded how the social welfare policies in the U.S. run counter to our rhetoric regarding POW’s/”enemy combatants”…we defend ourselves as humane because we “take good care of” our “foreign” prisoners, providing them with food, shelter, and health care (as is so poignantly addressed in Michael Moore’s recent Sicko), but how humane can we really be when we don’t extend those same provisions to our own citizens? Some thoughts…


image credit: Guerilla Girls

From the post title you may think this is going to be a rant on advocating “national” or “government-run” heathcare for the U.S.: it’s not. Discussions about private vs. government care tend to frustrate me to no end because arguments are often caught up in the specifics. I am not by any means an expert in Health Management. What I am interested in is social justice. And one scene from Sicko (below) and the Guerilla Girls poster I recently saw (above) both discuss social issues in terms of social justice, not policy specifics. Propose a policy, and I’ll form an opinion on it and ask for yours. But please, don’t make arguments “for” or “against” specifics of non-existent policies when we need to come to an understand about the concept at hand.

Namely, there is a problem in the U.S. with:

a) the incredible number of uninsured (and mostly middle-class!) people;

b) the denial of health services in order to maximize profit;

c) U.S. officials are quick to defend the treatment of prisoners, etc. (and rightly so, with all the scandal over torture and unjust treatment-they outta be defensive right about now!), yet what does it mean when the treatment they claim they are not giving to prisoners is what we inflict on our own citizens in the name of “free enterprise”!

What does it mean when we give more rights to “life” to criminals than we do our citizens? Whether we’re talking about health care, food, or shelter…

So, I don’t know if we should have “government-run” health care. But I’ll say this: health care, in the U.S., as a for-profit system, has screwed the American public royally to the benefit of shareholders and campaign warchests-typically wealthier people who couldn’t give more of a damn. Heath care should be a right of citizenship-not of employment, not of class, and not of marriage.

And we need to start talking to each other in this fashion when we talk about social welfare of any kind-not in terms of how it’s abused and therefore inherently a bad idea. We need to start agreeing on the problems, and committing to their solutions, instead of denying the problems based on inadequate solutions.

(shameless plug for Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Democratic nominee hopeful who advocates universal health care. Oh, and did I mention he doesn’t accept lobbyists’ money?)

OK, so check this trailer from Michael Moore’s Sicko, since I couldn’t get the movie clip to work (the scene that was so moving for me was the one where he determined that the only place in America where you are guaranteed quality health care is….Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and took the 9/11 volunteers who weren’t getting their medical needs me to Guantanamo Bay, to ask for the same care the “terrorist” detainees were getting. Made. me. cry.)

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