Establishment Willful Ignorance

Jeff Greenfield of CBS News writes in relation to Michael Moore’s new expose film, Sicko:

“…beyond the debate that seems to surround every Moore film -—honest advocacy or distorted propaganda? — lies a different question: can a cultural event such as a movie actually affect political events?

“In the past, plenty of books have—from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” that helped fan abolitionist sentiment before the Civil War, to Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” a century ago that led to federal food regulation, to Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” that spawned the environmental movement.

“Even a movie, like 1979’s The China Syndrome” helped trigger increased opposition to nuclear power.

“But there are plenty of counter-examples: 1983’s “The Right Stuff” did nothing for the Presidential campaign of ex-astronaut John Glenn; Howard Stern’s endorsement of John Kerry didn’t keep Bush from winning a landslide among young white men—Stern’s core group. Moore himself acknowledges that his last film, 2004’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” was viewed mostly by people who didn’t like Bush in the first place.”

No coincidence that the more progressive works mentioned here were more effective at fomenting change than the more establishment oriented ones — thus keeping in line with the known poll results of the American populace: they tend to be more progressive, humane than the those who have adopted the ideology of the dominant establishment. And so what if some progressive works have little or no effect. Some do. As with many efforts at catalyzing change, the necessary way to proceed is by trial and error.

Greenfield continues: “More important, Americans—unlike Europeans and Canadians—simply have a different relationship with government. Even though Medicare is a highly popular program, people do not go to government doctors or government hospitals; they have a near-visceral resistance to the idea. (Years ago, I heard a voter say, “I sure hope they don’t ruin Medicare by turning it over to the government.”)”

This is simply false. The anecdote is no doubt accurate but polls show that a majority of Americans have long preferred a government run free universal health care system like Canada’s system. And why not? It’s free to users, less costly to run overall, and more effective. For people who want private care, let them pay for their own. 

Greenfield adds: “Moore himself says that there’s a “pioneer” mentality, an “everyone for himself” individualism, that runs deep in our history. As a man of the Left, he wants to see that changed to a “we’re-all-in-this-together” philosophy. But for most Americans, however angry they are at the cost, inefficiency and –at times — the heartlessness of our system, embracing the idea of a government run system will be a hard pill to swallow.”

Again, false, according to years of polling data. Of course the insurance and pharmaceutical companies and their tag alongs favor the current grossly bloated, inefficient, and deadly current system, replete with wasteful layers of corporate management. And why wouldn’t they? They’re making a killing. 

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