[ SOCIAL AND PASTORAL BULLETIN No. 140 / Oct. 15 .2007 ]
I went to see the film of Michael Moore "Sicko". Moore is, most probably, the most influential American producer of documentary films nowadays. His literary style is unique. In the documentary “Bowling For Colombine” (2002) that recollects the happening of the shooting at random in the Colombine High School of the State of Colorado (1999), he brings one of the hemiplegic victims to the head office of the firm that sold the bullets to the criminal and forced them to stop selling them. And again in "Fahrenheit 9/11" (2004) that criticizes the war in Iraq he makes a fulminated interview of a senator, asking him: "will you send your son to Iraq?"
Nevertheless, his films are neither self-complacent nor frantic. They, humorously, portray Moore making an assault upon big evils as if it were Don Quijote rushing at the windmill. It is a documentary to laugh. Since the film is the newest production of Moore I was expecting to enjoy it laughing at large, but strangely enough it made me cry.
The main theme of Moore's film this time is the American health insurance. There is no Universal Health Insurance. About 60% of Americans have joined private insurance companies and 25%, senior citizens, disable persons and poor people are under official insurance, like Medicare and Medicaid. The rest, about 47 million people (15% of the population) are uninsured.
Nevertheless, this time, the uninsured are not given much consideration. The main actors in the film are people that no matter being insured are not able to receive medical treatment. For instance, the case of a couple where the husband suffered a heart attack and the wife faces cancer but, unable to pay the insurance premiums they are forced to sell their house and roll over the house of their daughter's family. Again, a doctor advices a wife to perform a marrow transplant on her husband, but the insurance company denies its assistance and the husband dies. Besides this, once the hospitals judge that patients are not insured and unable to pay the bills they bring them to poor districts where there is a hospital nearby and leave them behind on the road. I was shocked by it. The actors of such dramas unanimously grieve, "Is this America our homeland?"
Moore presents the maneuvering behind the scenes in 1971 when President Nixon introduced the privatization of health insurance in the USA. The merits of private health insurance consist in the motivation to raise profit as a result of decreasing medical costs. Insurance and drug companies are today one of the more influential businesses among politicians.
The Clinton Administration appealed in favor of Universal Health Insurance and it is said that, even now, Hillary Clinton is receiving campaign funds from insurance companies.
Moore went to Canada, England and France to gather materials on the health insurance systems of those countries that continue the support of systems of health insurance. Where do people prefer to live? In countries where money assures you the best medical services but the poor cannot afford them, like in the USA, or in countries, like Canada, England or France where everybody can obtain basic medical treatment?
Moore brings to Cuba firemen who fought the fires of 9.11 in New York. They could not get enough medical treatment for the aftereffects of their injuries, because of the defective insurance system. Moore brings them to the American Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (Cuba) where terrorists get free medical services and tries to make them have medical treatment, but, since it didn't work the firemen get treatment in Cuba. Due to economic embargo imposed by America and in spite of its economic difficulties Cuba carries on free medical services. The Cuban efforts done for preventive medicine have produced successful results in reducing medical costs. The tears of the 9.11 firemen and the words of gratitude shown to Cuba, the American "enemy," touched my heart.
The parents of Moore are fervent Irish Catholics and Moore himself attends regularly Sunday mass. Without any doubt, an unlimited love for powerless people strikes deeply the heart of a modern American “Don Quijote."

(Shibata Yukinori, Jesuit Social Center, Tokyo)

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