(Page 2 of 2)
Much like the American hospitals Moore excoriates, Hammersmith Hospital, the Evening Standard reported, faced pressure from administrators to limit the number of patients treated in order to cut spending. In a country where the government promises to winnow down queues to 18 weeks, this isn't an anomalous problem. A recent BBC documentary accused the NHS of using dangerously high doses of radiation on patients "to save time and money."
After the critical reaction to his previous films, Moore opts for elision over outright falsehood. So when he marvels that a doctor working in the NHS owns an Audi and "million dollar home," it is hardly in his interest to point out, as The Independent did in January, that "soaring salary levels of doctors are worsening the NHS cash crisis." And while bitterly lamenting the U.S. system of "wage slavery"—American students, Moore says, are saddled with debt and, thus, "won't cause [employers] any trouble"—he ignores a recent report from the British Medical Association suggesting that, by their fifth year of medical school, British students "have accumulated an average debt of" $39,000.
It is these sections, where Moore uncritically praises institutions with which many locals have ever-declining levels of faith (only 4% of Britons surveyed think the system "has enough money and the money is spent well"), that will likely alienate his non-ideological foreign fans. It is one thing to nod one's head in agreement with the Bush-bashing Fahrenheit 9/11—likely a mere reinforcement of previously held views for most Europeans—but it is quite another for a Briton to watch Moore tell viewers that English pharmacies don't sell milk and laundry detergent, when there is a Boots—the British version of CVS—just around the corner.
Sicko concludes with Moore speaking in soothing, dulcet tones over mawkish orchestral music. The sotto voce lesson is Rodney King-ish, admonishing Cubans and Americans to just get along, and for the rest of us to take care of our fellow man while, presumably, campaigning for Dennis Kucinich. So after two hours of limp jokes that would make Bruce Vilanch wince and a continent-spanning exploration of socialized medicine, Moore's specific policy prescriptions are impossible to find. Without them, he ends up urging viewers to just let the government run the damn thing.
But as P.J. O'Rourke once commented, if Mike thinks health care is expensive now, just wait until it's free.
Michael C. Moynihan is an associate editor of reason.
Discuss this article online.