Open University

We Are What We See, Eat, And Read


by Eric Rauchway

In his review of Michael Moore's Sicko, Josh Tyler claims

Sicko is not a movie about the 50 million Americans walking around without health insurance. is a movie about the other 250 million of us who have insurance, but are just as well and truly screwed. It's also about freedom, real freedom, not the empty kind that gets thrown around as a buzzword; the freedom to live your life with the certainty that forces beyond your control won't take away everything you have and everything you are. We don't have that kind of freedom here in America.

Maybe more interestingly, Tyler reports in his entirely separate review of the audience reaction:

The entire Sicko audience had somehow formed an impromptu town hall meeting in front of the ladies room. I've never seen anything like it. This is Texas goddammit, not France or some liberal college campus. But here these people were, complete strangers from every walk of life talking excitedly about the movie. It was as if they simply couldn't go home without doing something drastic about what they'd just seen.

People still like to quibble about the quality of care in this country--which costs a lot--and opponents to health care reform will claim that if only we would stop eating poorly, we'd live longer--that it's not the system at fault but ourselves. As I wrote in my first TNR column, studies show it ain't so: that even if you account for Americans' bad habits, we still die younger than our counterparts in other similarly wealthy countries. Even so, the point of health care reform is really not catching up with other countries but (as an astute TNRscrivener put on my article, there) achieving "freedom from fear."

Which is a phrase that comes from Franklin D. Roosevelt, of course, who seventy-five years ago this week offered the American people a "new deal." I point out in Slate that we aren't doing a very good job of talking about the New Deal.

And finally, on the matter of our public discourse, I mentioned Eric Alterman yesterday, which had the effect of reminding me of the long, critical, sometimes positive but also negative essay on TNR's recent decades he wrote in The American Prospect. He's mentioned on his blog that nobody over at TNR has mentioned the article. So, I'm mentioning it. Anyone want to take it up?

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