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Michael Moores SiCKO
It seems as though the Bush administration is bowling for Michael Moores head. Hopefully, theyll throw a gutter ball. The U.S. Treasury Department announced in May that it was investigating filmmaker Michael Moore for going to Cuba as part of his new documentary SiCKO, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival.
Last March, Moore took ten 9/11 first responders who suffered chronic respiratory problems due to toxic conditions at Ground Zero in New York City to Cuba to get medical care. Moores new film focuses on the problematic United States healthcare industry and HMOs. The point of Moores trip was to show that Americas health care system is inferior to Cubas socialized medical care system.
Moores request for travel documents to Cuba had been filed six months before his trip. Now the Treasury Department is investigating whether Moore violated the U.S. embargo of Cuba. The travel and trade ban excludes anyone other than full-time journalists, media, government officials, members of international delegations, full time professionals, and family members. Moore had requested permission to legally visit Cuba, a request similar to those previously granted to such filmmakers as Steven Spielberg, but never received an answer. The recent Treasury Department inquiry asked Moore for proof that he works for a news gathering organization and for information about who else went with him to Cuba.
Citing U.S. Census Bureau Statistics, National Public Radio reported at the same time that the number of uninsured Americans rose from 31 million in 1987 (13 percent of the population) to 46.6 million in 2005 (16 percent). The Orlando Sentinel reports that 17 percent of Floridas children are uninsured.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, family health insurance premiums averaged $11,500 per year in 2006 while a full time minimum wage employee earns $10,712 a year. The World Health Organization ranks the U.S. healthcare system as 37th in the world, behind countries such as Canada, Chile, and Costa Rica, and just two spots ahead of Cuba.
The journal Health Affairs has reported that uninsured patients and those who self-pay for hospital care were charged on average 2.5 times more for hospital services in 2004 than what health insurers paid, and three times more than Medicare-allowed costs.
Several right-wing commentators, including Glenn Beck and John Gibson, have argued that Moore should not be considered a journalist. Though predictably reviled by the right wing, Moore is better viewed as a muckraking investigative journalist, exposing corruption and hypocrisy in society, corporations, and the government and championing the causes of average working class people. In Roger and Me, Moore focused on the sky high profits of auto executives contrasted with massive layoffs of auto employees. In Bowling for Columbine he exposed the flaws and hypocrisy of the National Rifle Association. In Farenheit 9/11 he took a bold and unpopular stance against the Bush administrations decision to invade Iraq.
Its true that Moore goes into his projects with a point of viewthe video equivalent of articles written by columnists and op-ed writers, who gather facts and then interpret them and make persuasive arguments based on those facts. So if Moore isnt a journalist, then neither is George Will, Leonard Pitts, Charles Krauthammer, Cynthia Tucker, Cal Thomas, or Ellen Goodman. Fox News is a biased propaganda wing of the Bush administration and the Republican Party, yet they consider themselves journalists.
For millions of Americans, our countrys health care system is a mess. Michael Moore is pointing that out in his new film. Dont shoot the messenger. Our government needs to fix the underlying problem before we all become sicko.
Larry Atkins teaches journalism at Temple University and Arcadia University.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.