Sunday, December 30, 2007


Michael Moore's 2007 documentary, "Sicko," was harshly criticized as being "sophomoric" and filled with cheap tricks.

I found it to be neither.

I think he should be given a Congressional medal for putting the heat lamp on the single biggest pressing issue in American life today - 50,000,000 American men, women and children do NOT have medical insurance.

Each of them is always a cough away from a catastrophic personal disaster.

The HMO's are enormous profit-makers. Their simple m.o. is deny, deny, deny. So that even the millions who are insured are always at risk of not being covered by insurers and hospitals who regularly throw patients literally out into the cold.

The individual stories Moore tells are heart-breaking and shocking.

His analysis, reaching back to Nixon and Erlichman and Edgar Kaiser's Permanente HMO, is spot on and chilling.
His indictment of the AMA, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat Hillary Clinton's push for universal health care of a decade ago, and his dollar signs above the heads of various and sundry congressmen and senators who have profited from Big Pharma is equally damning.

The visits to Canada, England, France, and Cuba should be revelations for Americans.

Yes, we continue to have problems and iniquities here at home in our health care system.

But, we are so blessed to have the system we have.

In June 2005, I had heart surgery. Aside from the fact, that this miracle is now done routinely (There were 20 angioplasties performed that morning at VGH.), I was treated within ONE DAY and covered entirely by my universal health plan.

Rent "Sicko" from your local video store. It's a small revelation, and, if Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" deserved an Oscar, which it did, "Sicko" deserves several.

Art Pepper / Besame Mucho

Quote of the Day

From this morning's Province:

"Indian police record one case an hour of brides being violently ill-treated by their in-laws for failure to deliver dowry.

The Practice of giving dowry, widely acknowledged as a social evil in India, led to the murder or suicide of 7,618 women in India last year."

The whole messy story, which involves local Surrey residents, can be read here.

Are You Part of the Rebel Nation?

Both of the commenters in the post below (Two Great Responses...) refer to the "rebel" mentality that is so prevalent today.

Gee, I thought I was the only one who had noticed that we live in an utterly adolescent social disorder.

There is a Safeway store in my neighbourhood. Sharing the parking lot is a bank and a wine store. All over the red brick building that houses the bank and the wine store are white stencilled signs that say clearly and often, "No Parking."

There are so many parking spaces on three sides of the Safeway, that I have never seen the lot jammed and unable to take another car.

Yet...every single day, there are at least 3 cars gumming up the works parked next to the brick wall and directly under the "No Parking" signs.

Now, who is driving these cars? Teenagers? Criminals?

No. Just your average middle-aged, middle-class underachiever who just has to express his little personal rebellion in some way today.

I know that I live in the only city in the world where ignorant selfish drivers regularly turn left around round-abouts rather than drive the circle...and that includes City trucks and police.

Few drivers observe the right of pedestrians crossing an intersection. Many wave cheerily at you from the warm comfort of their giant monster SUV's while they splash in front of you in the rain.

The cell phone battle is lost. Almost all people yell indiscriminately on their phones wherever they may be. It seems to now be a given that my conversation is the most important sound in the vicinity.

Which I find peculiar, because I am so old that I still think my phone conversation is a private affair and I don't want you to hear it.

I watched Michael Moore's "Sicko" last night. A group of Americans living in Paris sat around a table in a restaurant and explained the beauties of the French medical system. What they didn't add was the obvious sense of civility they enjoyed.

O.K. The Province of British Columbia is only 150 years old.

But isn't it time we grew up?

Two Great Responses to Friday's Column

Well put, David.I frequent Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks. In the five minutes it took me to walk along Jericho Beach today, I counted a mere four dogs unleashed on the beach.My suspicion is that, had I asked those four dog owners whether or not they knew that the beach was off-limits for dogs (the signs were clearly not a deterrent), three would have told me to mind my own business; the fourth would have probably chosen more colorful language. Can't wait to navigate around half-decomposed fecal matter in the summer.Has the self-centered, 'my-rights-supercede-the-rules' attitude I see more often finally become de rigeur. Are we seeing the slow and painful death of community and the Golden Rule?Perhaps we just have to accept that more and more people view rules as mere suggestions that do not necessarily apply to them, like stop signs and spaces for handicap parking.

I also love dogs, in fact we have an Airedale (I don't think we live across the lane your house however!). Unlike our two old fox terriers, who have long since passed away, our Airedale thankfully is not a barker. I very much dislike off-leash dogs in on-leash areas and used to regularly encounter such dog owners in the Endowment Lands where there is the option to go on the off-leash trails, but where some choose to walk off-leash on on-leash trails. Our old fox terrier was ailing and was easily toppled so an off-leash dog running up to us was a hazard to say the least. Unfortunately, explaining that to the rebel owners didn't often meet with understanding. A few bad owners make it difficult for those of us who try to do the right thing (barking fox terriers aside!).On another note, I want to bring to your attention an honour bestoed on Bruce Pullen, Music Director of the Vancouver Bach Choir, of which our daughter is a member. The choirs are a brilliant education in music given to children starting from a very young age and I am happy to see Mr. Pullen receive his due. BRUCE PULLAN APPOINTED TO THE ORDER OF CANADAHer excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, announced today 61 new appointments to the Order of Canada. Among these is Bruce Pullan CM, Music Director of the Vancouver Bach Choir. The citation states that he is appointed “for his contributions to the development of singers of all ages, as a professor of music and a founder and director of numerous choirs”. Mo.