Michael Moore’s latest scam

What’s the difference between art and propaganda? The artist wants to communicate and share and the propagandist wants to manipulate.

Michael Moore is a talented filmmaker, a great marketer, and a superb propagandist. Those skills have now been invested in his latest film venture about health care, “Sicko.”

Part of the shtick, of course, is the portrayal that he’s a man on a mission. A social crusader — a kind of Ralph Nader whose medium is film.

“I mean, it is really disgusting,” he says, “when a guy in a ball cap with a high school education is the one asking the tough questions….Criticize me? No. Somebody, really should show up and say, ‘Thanks.'”

But a lot of people are showing up and saying “thanks.” It’s why Moore, from what appears to have been pretty humble working class beginnings in Flint, Mich., is now a multi-millionaire and far from being a simple guy in a ball cap. Folks are saying thanks by plunking down fistfuls of dollars to see his films and buy and rent his videos.

Moore’s last film, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” a broadside attack on the Bush Administration and the war on terror, grossed $220 million worldwide and cost $6 million to produce.

Is he a social commentator? A man who lives to reform?

No, this is an entrepreneur from the far political left with a business model that is serving him very well. The usual left wing Hollywood con artist, who talks socialism and gets rich off capitalism.

Moore’s films are to social commentary what pornography is to human relations.

Find vulnerabilities and hot buttons, stimulate, provoke, exploit and sell tickets.

I’ve had a chance to see “Sicko” because I was on a TV panel that hosted Moore as part of his promotion campaign.

The film, which cost $9 million to produce, and likely will generate nine figure revenues, is out of the usual mold.

It pitches socialized medicine by cherry picking stories that allegedly testify to the success of the government-run systems in Great Britain, France, Canada, and even Cuba, and then finds horror stories to show how bad things are in the U.S.

I shot an e-mail to a friend, an American, now a long time resident of Great Britain, and asked about their National Health Service. Here’s the response:

“If you end up with an exotic disease that requires a lot of care, you’re screwed. For example, the waiting list for any kind of major surgery is long and for things like knee replacements you can wait for three years. Alzheimer’s drugs aren’t available on the National Health Service because they’re too expensive. More and more people are paying for private health insurance cover, and more and more companies are making it part of the perks package. So, Britain will end up with a two-tier system before too long where the “rich” get good private cover and the poor or uninsured have no alternative to the NHS.”

Moore and his rich left wing Hollywood buddies won’t have to worry about the inevitable shortages and distortions of socialized medicine. They’ll simply be living in their own private care universe.

Cuba? Call any Cuban expatriate here, and I’ve talked to a few, and they’ll tell you that the shoddy local care is never what a foreign visitor would see. What we do know is that Cuba has the highest abortion rates, highest suicide rates, and lowest fertility rates in our hemisphere. And we also know that any Cuban that tries to exercise free speech, like Michael Moore luxuriates in here, would soon become a non-person.

We do need health care reform in the United States. But problems get solved through analysis and integrity and not with sensationalism and exploitation.

We already have massive government involvement in our health care markets and there is good reason to believe that this is at least part of the problem. A third party payer system subsidized by the tax code and a patch work of state regulated programs and, hence, no national market.

Government run Medicare and Medicaid are in fiscal crisis and rote with distortions, waste, fraud, and abuse

Michael Moore thinks health care should be free. Why doesn’t he distribute this important work explaining why for free? After all, he’s said “…I made this film because I want the world to change.”

When word got out the other day that a pirated edition made its way onto the Internet, his friend and distributor, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, went into high alert taking online countermeasures to prevent distribution.

Moore himself, ever cool, said, “The more people who see it the better, so I am happy this is happening.”

So give it away for free, Michael. You’ll be ecstatic.

(Star Parker is president of CURE, Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (www.urbancure.org,) and author of “White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay.”)


  1. kent shaw

    Jim C., I believe it was Doug’s intent to print an article that would stimulate a lot of discussion. We needn’t take it personally. Having said that, I agree with most of the rest of your comment.

    As for deregulation of corporations, or as some would say, lessening government interference with our corporations, I can’t help wondering where we’d be without the FDA, FAA, EPA, CDC, SEC and many of the rest of the regulatory agencies which over the years due to politics and corruption have become advocates rather than regulators and in need of remedy of the situation.

    Should we just disband those agencies? Should we let Big Pharma just shovel any old untested chemicals at us they like? Should there be no air traffic control systems? Should we allow coal fired power plants to spew all the mercury they like into the air? Should anyone be able to just hang out a “Doctor” shingle without passing any kind of testing to prove his/her abilities? Should stock and commodities trading be unregulated so as to allow any kind of swindles imaginable?

    As for “socialism” and redistribution of wealth, what about social security and medicare, highways, bridges, waterways and all kinds of infrastructure built with or paid for out of tax dollars? Should we just disband Social Security and Medicare and declare “every man for himself”? Are we going to build our own highways (or have unregulated corporations do it for us and have all roads be toll roads)? Should all airports be privately or corporately owned and operated, with no oversight as to what fees they may charge for whatever services? I could go on and on, but I think I make my point.

    I think if we are going to intelligently discuss things like “free health care” or “single payer health care” or “socialism” or “capitalism” or “left wing” or “right wing” we need to first define our terms and then argue, without invective, for or against.

    Just my humble opinion.


    PS — Let’s start with the definition of “socialized medicine”. I don’t know where to start, but many of you here are a lot smarter than me so I look to you all for the definition of terms.

  2. Jim C

    May I add to Peccadillos comment ? You responded that you offer opinions from all sides , fair enough . There is an old saying ” you’re entitled to your own opinion , but not your own facts . It was stated in the article that countries with socialized health care had drug shortages , may I ask what countries ? Not Germany , not Sweden , Not France and certainly not Canada . In fact if you check you’ll find that all of the countries with socialized health care are far ahead of us in every meaningful comparison . I believe we are right behind Peru in net outcome ( Cuba’s also ahead of us in many catigories ) , we’re 34th or so . I would also bet that no 1st world country and not many second tier countries would trade healthcare systems with us . I would also guess many other readers have no problem with success and those who become wealthy . Its callious greed and lack of concern for the less fortunate that is offensive . I believe FDR , the Kennedys , Percy Ross to name a few were belivers in no blesse obllige and still did quite well . The problem is that you printed a slanted , factually incorrect , biased piece of rightwing propaganda, not that you printed ” another opinion ” as you stated . It was from start to finish unsubstantiated garbage , both missleading and inaccurate ( simply a contrived admominem attack on Michael Moore ) , that was the problem . If some rightwing outfit has a ” factually ” based argument please print it , I won’t hold my breath .As a long time reader I expected more .Poster Sandra ( sorry , I forget your last name ) you might want to brush up on your history or turn off FOX or whoever is feeding you this tripe . Your information is wrong from start to finish and easy to check . A good place to start is the elections around 1920 ( when the socialists got about 30% or so of the vote ) and the modern democratic party was formed with many of their ( socialists ) planks . Things like child labor laws , forty hour work week and many other worker friendly provisions that I bet you take for granted the republicans fought tooth and nail and still hate . Anyway , if you want to print differing opinions fine . But regurgitating inaccurate rightwing propaganda diminishes your creditability , at least with this reader .

  3. Joe Lawrence

    Star Parker reaches for a conclusion which is not supported by anything except her own extreme-right biases when she says, “So, Britain will end up with a two-tier system before too long where the “rich” get good private cover and the poor or uninsured have no alternative to the NHS,” as she ignores the ‘doughnut hole’ of Britain’s poorest still being better off than our own, some 46 million of whom have no insurance at all.

    What I cannot figure out is how she – without her head exploding – sets aside the inconvenient fact that that we, the USA, currently have a de facto THREE-tier system; one for the well-to-do-or-well-connected, another for the various elements of the not-as-well-to-do, and yet another (or none) for the rest of the citizenry. I would, if given the opportunity, ask her why it is that when Rush Limbaugh boasts that our current health system is the “best in the world,” she and sooooo many conservative bloviators are able to rationalize his defiance of it in search of more plentiful sources of drugs than the rest of us, more privacy therein than the rest of us and less vigorous criminal prosecution than the rest of us would have faced under similar circumstances.

    Her answers might be interesting fodder for a more public debate than we have thus far had.

    And, I just hope my comment meets Peccadillo’s criterion for what Doug may or may not publish on HIS OWN SITE.

    Joe Lawrence

  4. Boots

    Why in the world would any parent name their child Star?

    I love the smell of hatred in the morning.

  5. the Don

    I had a friend who had diarrhea contacted in South America 3 years before. We travelled together in China, after 23 hours straight west from Beijing on a train we arrived at our destination. That night he met a Chinese Dr. who gave him some herbal medicine that cured him within 36 hrs. The best doctors and hospitals in Santa Cruz and San Francisco could not help him in 3 yrs. My friend was charged only for the herbs.

  6. teleri

    >>OK. Rush Limbaugh is to political commentary as my bulldog’s farts are to breath mints.<< Love this comment sooo much LOL Now, as for Michael Moore - yes, he does sensationalize somewhat. BUT his questions are valid. Our health care system SUCKS. I work for Medicaid, BTW. If you are among the fast-growing population of US citizens who are between 21 & 65, have no children or disability preventing you from working for at least 12 months, & work at one of the MANY places that do not offer health insurance, or only offer extremely expensive plans, then you are SOL if you get sick or hurt. No matter HOW horrible you might think national health coverage is in Canada or Britain (or wherever), it is MUCH better than NO health care, which is what a growing population gets here in the good ole USA. I remember watching with awe & dismay in the early 90s when Clinton's health care plan (free health care, remember?) was defeated due to the health insurance lobby efforts. I mean, no secret why the insurance people wanted to stop free health care, yet our good people couldn't figure this out for themselves. This kind of article is a depressing echo of that campaign. Disinformation and faulty logic which muddles the brain and clouds the issues. Our health care system SUCKS. And whether or not Michael Moore is sincere or making money really doesn't change that fact. Teleri ferch Nyfain

  7. Rich Farris

    Exploiting Success for Misery

    You emailed a friend from Great Britain? You talked to a few people from Cuba? You call that research? That is just sad. You should apply for a job with the Bush administration. You’ll be in good company. Go ahead. Be all you can be!

    “The usual left wing Hollywood con artist, who talks socialism and gets rich off capitalism.” If there is anything low about Michael Moore, you have definitely cast yourself much lower with that comment. Somehow, anybody on the left is supposed to embrace poverty for themselves in order to maintain any credibiility. About as sane as those who think Al Gore should live in a thatch hut before we can believe what he says about global warming.

    If Michael Moore can garner funds that match Warren Buffet’s, I have a feeling the world would probably be better off for it.

  8. Sandra Price

    Socialism lives! Americans aren’t smart enough to think and act on our own and Big Daddy is needed over just about everything. I see the culture of Katrina speaking here.

    Health care cost money! The individual American is never responsible for their own health! The individual American needs Socialism so they can abuse and use the money furnished by those who can afford it.

    It is the old redistribution of wealth that has failed in every nation on this planet…..So it is time to do it to America. You poor, poor overlooked people. You need your federal caregiver who will pay for all your costs…..why stop at free medical care? Why not have the government issue you cars and credit cards so the price of gas will never be an issue? Why not have the government set your academic standards so that not a single American student can excel over another. Why not build Federal housing so we all live in identical homes? Or why not ask those of you who look to the government for everything free, to move to China?

  9. JohnnyCanuck

    A number of years ago when my daughter at age 6 contracted meningitis I became eternally grateful for Canada’s ‘socialized’ health care system. I was attending university at the time, and had my family with me, living outside of my home province. As a result, the medical bills were forwarded to me. Normally, this does not happen, as medical coverage within the same province is handled directly.

    I was shocked at how much it cost to save my daughter’s life!

    To get these bills paid, I simply forwarded them to the Medicare Commission in my home province.

    Had I and my family not been covered by Canada’s health care system, this would have been a catastrophic event for my family.

    In the years since this happened, I am hearing many stories (mostly from the US) of how our health care system is terrible, and that there are long waiting lists for elective surgery etc. Still, when I am ill, I have quick access to medical care through walk-in clinics and/or my family doctor. If it is an emergency I will be treated at the hospital.

    If I lose a couple of fingers to an accident (similar to the ‘cherry picked’ case in Sicko), if I can get them to the hospital, I know that they will BOTH be re-attached if at all possible – no one will be asking me to make a choice based on cost. I know people who have had experiences similar to this.

    I would suggest to Star Parker’s friend in England that yes, there are some shortcomings to the system, and, yes, there are cases where coverage is inadequate, but if he walked down the streets of London and asked everyday Britons if they would prefer health coverage similar to what is available in the US the response would be an overwhelming NO.

    I know that the majority of Canadians are not interested in a US style for-profit health care model.

    As for Ms. Parker’s challenge to Michael Moore to “give it away for free” – right back at ya honey! If you can make money espousing your views, why shouldn’t Michael Moore?

    And while we’re at it, let’s get Ann Coulter to give back all the profits from her books too.

    (Oops, I forgot – if he didn’t make any money at it, then he wouldn’t be able to do it, would he?)

  10. kent shaw

    Jim C, you are absolutely correct. A “single payer” health care system pays benefits out of all tax dollars collected, thus spreading the financial risk across all tax payers. This is how insurance also works — some will get sick and some won’t. It all boils down to “are we all in this thing called life together or shall it be survival of the fittest (or richest) only”? Nothing is “free”.

    Most health care dollars are spent in the last couple months of life, paying for “heroic measures”. Its the “small” things like a broken bone, allergies, colds, rashes, asthma, vision care and all the other routine measures that in the overall scheme of things don’t cost that much to treat, but under the current system even the most basic services, including preventive care, are unavailable to the uninsured. I don’t mind “redistributing my wealth” so that some poor kid can have an asthma inhaler!!

    Will there be “rationing” under a single payer system. OF COURSE THERE WILL!! Just like there is NOW in the perverted and greedy for profit system that we have where “administrative costs” (which includes figuring out how not to pay claims, as you suggested) take up 35% of the funds spent for private insurance.

    Note that we already HAVE a single payer system in America, and its called MEDICARE and MEDICAID. Administrative costs for these systems run somewhere around 4% !! Yes there is fraud in the system but the fraud comes from the care provider side, not the government side.

    MEDICARE/MEDICAID could easily be expanded to cover the entire population, not just those over 62 years of age. There is no need to reinvent the wheel to come up with some new overly complicated single payer system. Just expand medicare/medicaid to cover everyone. I don’t know why this idea is not presented in the mainstream media. It is a question I will ask candidates if I get the chance.


  11. Jim C

    You may be correct Kent . But if I may add something . Its not ” free healthcare ” as some posters have implied , its sharing the burden and not allowing the greediest among us to profiteer and prey on the sick injured and unfortunate like wolves in a rabbit hatch . I would challange any of the free marketers and those who yap on about socialism , socialism , socialism to find a country with , yes , gasp , ” socialized health care ” that would trade for our system for theirs or that don’t have a healthier population . I believe that between 30 to 40 percent of our healthcare funds are spent on paperwork , not to mention the funds that are spent literally to figure out how not to accept claims and obscene salaries and profits . When you allow the greedy and corrupt to run a system you wind up with a callous , corrupted system .