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Archive for July 2nd, 2007

dude, where’s my right-wing thinktank supplied talking points?

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I haven’t watched much MTV since I was a teenager. Actually, I haven’t watched any MTV, that I can remember, since then. It’s all the death of Kurt Cobain and then things get foggy for me on that front. But I do remember Kurt Loder, the talking head of the MTV news division (?), and the guy who famously broke the story on Cobain’s demise…

So I’ve been out of the loop for a bit. But what in christ’s name is going on with Loder’s review of Sicko, which is new to me, but is apparently generating major blog juice from the look of the google results. Someone over at Daily Kos does a pretty good job on the surface level bullshit in this piece, which feels like the fruits of some major right-wing foundation research help, and whose subtextual message could be more or less summarized as: “Lissen up, kiddo. You vote for Edwards, and the text time you do funnel shots in the backyard of the college Eating Club, you’re going to be waiting in line at the hospital behind some smelly black dude who just got his head clubbed in my the cops. Mommy and Daddy might as well not call, there will be no strings to pull. It’ll just be your unconscious ass rationed right to the back of the line while people who haven’t even gone to college, let alone successfully pledged at Alpha Sigma Sigma, get treated in the order they arrived. And you wanna talk about the boob job that daddy promised you if you make all Bs this semester. Forget about it. It’s A cup for you, cupcake, while the cleft-palate kids take all the surgical aestheticians for their greedy selves.”

Enough of that. One other thing though. Loder takes up the Cuban medical tourism meme that I last engaged with over at Acephalous.

What Moore doesn’t mention is the flourishing Cuban industry of “health
tourism” — a system in which foreigners (including self-admitted multimillionaire film directors and, of course, government bigwigs) who are willing to pay cash for anything from brain-surgery to dental work
can purchase a level of treatment that’s unavailable to the majority of Cubans with no hard currency at their disposal. The Cuban American National Foundation (admittedly a group with no love for the Castro
regime) calls this “medical apartheid.” And in a 2004 article in Canada’s National Post, writer Isabel Vincent quoted a dissident Cuban neurosurgeon, Doctor Hilda Molina, as saying, “Cubans should be treated the same as foreigners. Cubans have less rights in their own country than foreigners who visit here.”

God is this little argumentoid getting wide and fast circulation. Without taking up the reasons why
Cuba might need to sell medical services for hard currency, let’s just remember that 1) the only reason why the US isn’t a bigger player in the medical tourism business is because medical services are so frigging expensive that you’d be crazy to come here rather than other places with cheap, quality medical care and 2) on the upper-end of the medical spectrum, we already do do a bristling business in selling medical resources to foreigners. I’m sure there are statistics, but for brevity’s sake, an anecdote: my mother suffers from, and has suffered for more than 30 years from a certain chronic-progressive, and ultimately fatal disease. (I’d rather not say which, for pseudo reasons… But you can probably fill in the blanks yourselves….) And for the past five or so years, she has been under the care of the guy who is commonly known to be the very best practitioner in the country when it comes to her condition. How did she get in with this guy? A friend of a friend happened to be president of the research hospital where said doctor works, and got her an appointment – no easy task. So, yeah – if your mom suffers from this disease, she’s just basically not getting in to see this guy. (Obviously I don’t begrudge her the care – I just begrudge the system that generates results in this fashion…) And when she goes for her quarterly checkup, the waiting room is largely stocked with non-Americans of one sort or another – petrodollar spending middle-easterners seem to be the best represented demographic. The office, I believe, keeps a block of rooms at a local hotel reserved for their exotic patients. Perhaps this situation would even continue after the arrival of single-payer health care in the US – there are exemptions that allow it to happen in Canada, and maybe they’d build them in here too as a sort of kickback to doctors.

In the end, whether homegrown or imported, it is the wealthy and connected who have exclusive access to the best care in the US… But let’s just not mistake the equation at hand: even in the worst case, the question is between an egalitarian system with a sliver of free-market capitalism at the very top, or a radically inegalitarian system with the same sliver at the top. In other words, our entire system is structured along the lines of the fractional element of the Cuban one that Loder calls out in his piece, that he deploys as evidence of the hypocritical downfall of socialized medicine…

Above all else, it is a bit strange that Loder would write a piece like this. I’ve sifted through his other reviews looking for a similar level of, what to call it, contextual-investment as in this one and I can find nothing like it. Smells like a bit of prefab work to me…

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July 2, 2007 at 11:55 pm

Posted in movies, socialism