THE BLOG
09/14/2007 04:31 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What Has John Stossel Been Smoking?

Friday on 20/20, John Stossel continued his idiotic hatchet job on Michael Moore's film, Sicko.

Normally, I like Stossel. His strong, libertarian, contrarian views strike an idiosyncratic nerve. I once had dinner with him at a beach house I shared, and he seemed like a rational human being.

But his stupid attack on Moore's film is sophomoric and not worthy of the fine mind he showed across the dinner table.

Stossel does not acknowledge Moore's central points, that there is something seriously wrong with the U.S. healthcare system:

1. It is ridiculously expensive. Our $6,000 per person annual cost is 20 times more than Cuba pays and double or triple what such countries as Canada, Germany and France pay.

2. It leaves 40-50 million Americans uninsured and without access to preventive medicine.

3. And that for all we pay, life expectancy is 37th in the world, far below most industrialized nations and on par with Cuba, Costa Rica and Chile. The U.S. lags in infant mortality figures also.

Moore has done a wonderful job pointing all this out. The United Nations, World Health Organization, and even the CIA essentially back up all his figures. See my previous post.

Figures from the World Health Organization clearly show that The United States lags behind 36 other countries in overall health system performance, ranging from infant mortality, to adult mortality and life expectancy.

Twenty countries in Europe and four countries in Asia have a better life expectancy than the U.S. If you are a male between the ages of 15 and 59, your chances of dying are higher in the U.S. (140 per thousand) than in Canada, 95, Costa Rica, 127, Chile, 134, and Cuba, 138.

Instead, Stossel wants to engage in childish quibbles with Moore over whether foreigners in Cuba get better health care than the average Cuban or whether Cubans live a few months more or less than Americans, according to the CIA. Quoting an "anti-Castro" web site is silly and not the point, John.

Stossel believes in a libertarian, free market system and that people should be responsible for their own health care. Keep the government out of people's lives. If they are stupid enough to die, so be it! Kind of a social Darwinian philosophy. Nice theory?

But it is a gross folly to think U.S. health care is anything close to a free market system. As it now stands, only 12 percent of health care costs are paid directly by individuals.

Why has our vaunted free enterprise system failed so completely with regard to our most fundamental need? Simple. Buyers don't shop for health care. Sick people don't negotiate with doctors or hospitals or drug companies. They don't care what it costs; insurance or the government will pay.

This vulnerability has been exploited and hijacked by greedy doctors, drug companies, insurers, personal injury lawyers, HMOs, and hospitals. About 50 percent of health care funds never even get to doctors or hospitals -- which themselves run bloated operations. This evil, profit driven cartel is squandering our monies and letting people die needlessly.

If American citizens -- and children -- have a right to clean water, education, police and fire protection, and a highway system, surely they should have a right to health care? Every other industrialized country in the world recognizes this right, so why are Americans so far behind? See my post, Poor Little Greece Has Better Health Care than the U.S.?

So John, find some other libertarian cause to pontificate on. This one is a loser. Fifty-two percent of Americans are disgusted with their health insurance (see post) and employer paid health insurance is making our cars and most manufactured products uncompetitive in world markets.

Use your critical thinking. Discrediting Moore's argument about our bankrupt health care system, by focusing entirely on Cuba and quoting right-wing Cuban exiles, is bogus. Beyond lame!

Sure we have a great health care system... for the richest one percent, but for most people healthcare is a continuing nightmare. And most importantly, Americans should be ashamed at how we neglect our poorest and sickest citizens.

jfleetwood@aol.com




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