Thursday, December 27, 2007

Musings: The Big Lie

It’s easy to sleep in on these days when the sun itself is late to rise, in this dead/lost week between Christmas and New Year’s, and so it was light, if not bright, when Koko and I set out this morning.

We dodged puddles and cars, the road made more narrow by the wide brown river that alongside it, remnants of a dawn downpour that kept me snuggled in bed. The ironwoods were busy sighing in the wind, and raindrops adorned both their needles and a spider web spun in the shell ginger.

I love making that transition from dream to nature; both are realms I often seek to restore myself while living in the harsh — I was going to say reality, but I don’t believe that it is an accurate description— of American life in the 21st Century. In truth, we are not living a reality here, but instead a big lie.

It’s the lie of we don’t have enough resources to take care of people and the earth; the lie that if only you work long and hard enough you can have your big wedge of pie, too; the lie that those who are down and out have somehow failed to make the most of the endless opportunities available to all in this great abundant land.

I’m usually pretty tuned in to those lies, but I was vividly reminded of them again while watching Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko.” Yes, I know it’s been out for a long time, but I’m always way behind on movies and totally out of it with TV, so I only just borrowed it from a friend and viewed it last night.

It wasn’t about all the millions who don’t have health insurance, but the millions who do, and still get screwed out of benefits by some craven reason dreamed up by insurance companies looking to maximize their profits.

But Moore didn’t just rant on that injustice and disclose the origins of vampirish health management organizations: Nixon and Kaiser. He also showed his viewers that it is different everywhere else in Europe and Canada.

In Britain, doctors are paid more when their patients are healthier. In France, doctors make house calls and new mothers get a helper. A prescription that costs $120 in the US sells for just five cents in Cuba. And people in all those places, in fact, in every Western natio, pay little or nothing for health care. It’s not slack care, either. They all have longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality rates than the U.S.

So what’s the difference, aside from the fact that insurance and drug companies make massive campaign donations and maintain an intense lobbying pressure in Washington, and the AMA is a powerful force against change?

It’s that Americans believe the big lie that our government can’t afford to pay day care, health care, six months paid maternity leave, five weeks of vacation, a college education. Instead, we shoulder these costs ourselves, or do without, and pay astronomical amounts to support the other big lie: the giant “defense” budget we’re told is needed to maintain our skewed way of life.

Burdened by debt, working our asses off but barely, if ever, getting ahead, worried about the past, present and future, consumed by stress and anxiety, we meekly live our lives, fearful of losing our jobs, speaking out against injustice, reclaiming a nation — our nation — founded on the premise of “we the people.”

As one American woman living in France said, “Here, the government is afraid of the people. In America, people are afraid of the government.”

And through the “Patriot Act,” Homeland Security, illegal wire-tapping and citizen surveillance, security zones to protect a corporate interest at Hawaii’s harbors, top federal officials who condone torture, our government is trying to scare us even more.

Don’t buy it! No fear! Wake yourself up from this nightmarish “American dream.” Educate yourself about what’s really going on. And if you haven’t seen it yet, watch “Sicko,” or any one of Michael Moore’s films. Because it really doesn’t have to be like this.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Joan!

BTW, one of our friends is planning to do some public showings of "Sicko" around the island soon!


Anonymous said...

Politically (social/public policy, etc) we are on completely opposite ends of the spectrum....that said, you are an elegant and uniquely talented wordsmith.

Once you seque beyond describing the morning walk with Koko I rarely agree with you -and this post is no exception- but I salute the beautiful way in which you craft your argument.

yankeeinparadise said...

I am in total agreement with your voice, your stand, and the issues presented.. to believe otherwise is to remain mind-blind to the truth of our present national situation. Let the nay-sayers continue down their own mis-guided path. They're the same ones who backed McCarthy in the 50s.. this too shall pass..

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks, Mike, both for your kind words and for reading even though you don't agree. I like that!