Every day, reading the newspapers or listen to the radio, we are barraged with reminders of how screwed up our society, our country is. We see these things, and have a realization that there is little to no hope that they will change any time soon.
I can only take so much despair. I can only take so much reminder of just how screwed up things are. I have stopped listening to the radio on my way driving in to work in the morning, because too often the stories are about places in the world where horrible things are going on. Too often, that place is Baghdad, a place that was screwed up and continues to be screwed up because of how poorly my country ran a war it decided to run on reasons that turned out to be entirely smoke and mirrors.
So many things are screwed up, but I really don’t believe that there is any reasonable chance of a lot of them changing any time soon. As such, I have to stick my head in the sand to maintain my sanity. All that Michael Moore’s movie will do is deepen my sense of despair. At least with Gore’s movie, there is some hope that something might happen. I still give you better-than-even odds that a century from now, we have faced a major international crisis as the climate has changed in a way that seriously disrupts the way we feed the world. But perhaps something will happen. The global warming denialists are getting fewer, and what needs to be done often has other reasons. (Yes, there are some extreme nutcases out there, like the one a few weeks ago who was arguing to my face that there is no point in making anything more energy efficient because people will then just use more and more energy as it becomes cheaper. Yes, indeed, it was an argument that greater energy efficiency does not meaningfully contribute to reducing energy use; I was so boggled I didn’t know how to respond, other than to realize I should never put myself in a position to debate with this person again. Alas, I sort of did the next day, in a completely different context, and it ended poorly.)
But with the health care situation? I honestly, honestly do not see any way it can really change. If it turns out that this movie raises consciousness and gets people thinking about it beyond the sound-bite “gotta maintain our freedom” kinds of debates that goes on about health care right now, then all the more power to Moore (even if he is rather a jerk much of the time). Perhaps, somehow, it will make a difference. But at the moment, I have a hard time understanding how my seeing the movie will do anything more than deepen my sense of despair that we’re all riding together on a developing train wreck.
Why am I so negative about the chance of real change in health care?
Look at your mutual fund portfolios if you have them, or if you have retirement accounts. If not, randomly select a few. Chances are, one of the largest industry sectors they are invested in is the pharmaceutical industry. Selling health care is big business in this country. Trying to change it, trying to take the profit motive out of selling health care, would cost a lot of people a lot of money… a lot of people who have a lot of money to spend fighting against any of that kind of legislation. There’s no hope. There’s another card. It’s probably inevitable that any kind of change like that would send our country into a recession. I don’t bring this out as an argument against that kind of change— sometimes you have to make sacrifices in order to make things better in the long run, as those who have ever supported any war have argued. And, indeed, the pain would be transient; the economy would adjust. However, it’s a very strong possibility that there would be nationwide economic pain, and that possibility is another card that those who are opposed to changing our health care system can play.
I simply do not see any hope of meaningful change. Oh, there may be laws passed, but they won’t be any more meaningful than recent “campaign finance reform” laws have really been. Big money is just as much a corruptor of our system as it was beforehand, and all the laws that were passed did was give people something to point at as evidence of progress, or evidence of things going to hell… the real, practical changes are something I simply can’t see. It’s very, very easy to maintain a cynical attitude about the inplasticity of our political system seeing stuff like this.
I’ll give the movie a pass. There are too many things to be outraged about, and I don’t have the energy to keep up with all of them any more.