Part 2 Gutterballs Four And Five

Larry Pratt

Gutterball Number Four: Wrong On Canadian Health Care

Robert Pickell is the Sheriff of Genese County, Michigan. He was in Bowling for Columbine (BFC) only briefly, about 30 seconds. In an interview, Pickell, who was in the CIA for five-and-a-half years, says: “The movie was disrespectful to this country and our leaders.” He is particularly upset by one specific scene which shows airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center, accompanied by this text: “Sept. 11, 2001: Osama bin Laden uses his expert CIA training to murder 3,000 people.” This assertion is so loony a reviewer in the N.Y. Times (10/11/02) called it “idiocy… hardly worth engaging.”

But, Sheriff Pickell is a master of the understatement. BFC is more than merely disrespectful. It is viciously anti-American. According to Moore’s black-and-white cartoon view of our country, America is Hell and Canada, by contrast, is Heaven. He’s made this crystal clear in numerous interviews and in BFC.

In an interview with Tim Russert on CNBC (10/19/02), Moore says that, unlike in America, “there’s a Canadian ethic that says that if one of us gets sick, we have a collective responsibility to help that person, make sure they have a doctor… they have a society that’s not based on a mean-spiritedness or a punishment factor, especially when you become poor.” It’s this alleged American attitude, he adds, which creates “a climate that allows for an enormous amount of violence.”

To, supposedly, show the greatness of Canada’s health care system, BFC shows Moore talking to a man, somewhere in Canada, coming out of an emergency room. His face is banged up, stitches in his scalp. Moore asks him: How much were you charged? The man says he had to pay nothing.

A little more in-depth look at Canada’s health care system by people who know what they are talking about, gives us a slightly different picture than does Moore’s wretched movie. A National Public Radio report (12/4/2002) tells us that health care in Canada is “in somewhat of a crisis.” Says Brian Lee Crowley, president of the Atlantic Institute For Market Studies: “We have created in Canada a health care system which is a public sector monopoly. Monopolies don’t care whether you get good service, and they don’t care whether they get good value because you don’t have any choice as to where you go.”

A column by Andrew Coyne in the Halifax Daily News (12/1/02) quotes Roy Romanow as admitting that “Canada spends $100 billion a year on health care, but no one really knows if that money is used effectively.” Romanow, the former premier of Saskatchewan, headed a group that recently issued a Royal Commission report on Canada’s health care system.

The Calgary Herald (11/29/02) quotes Gerry Nicholls, vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, as saying: “As long as health care is a government monopoly, the problems of long waiting lists, outdated equipment and a shortage of doctors will continue. Canada doesn’t need more of the same. We need fresh answers that inject competition and choice into our health care system.”

Finally, William McArthur, a former coroner for British Columbia who knows a corpse when he sees one, is a palliative care physician and senior fellow in health policy studies at the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank. In an article in the Wall Street Journal (1/28/02), titled “Memo To Al Gore: Canadian Medicine Isn’t Cheap Or Effective,” McArthur says, in part:

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which does comparative economic research for its 29 member countries, recently noted that disability-free life expectancy for female Canadians had fallen to 63.8 years in 1991 from 66.1 years in 1978. Could this reflect the fact that Canadians are increasingly denied health care by long waiting lists for most medical and surgical procedures?

At a median level, Canadians wait six weeks to see a specialist after their family doctors ask for the consultation. Having seen the specialist they will wait a further seven weeks before treatment is provided. In between, they will wait for tests, most of which rely on technology that is limited in supply. The median wait for magnetic resonance imaging is 11 weeks; five weeks for a CAT scan.

It used to be claimed that waiting times did not impair patients’ health. Now, Toronto-area hospitals, reflecting legal concerns about lawsuits, ask patients to sign a legal release accepting that while delays in their access to treatment may have jeopardized their health they nevertheless hold the hospital blameless….

Canadians over the age of 65 use health care at four times the rate of those under 65 and thus are more exposed to the deficiencies. Moreover, the treatments elders need most often are the ones where the worst shortages exist. According to the Fraser Institute’s annual survey of hospital waiting lists, the median patient waits 70% longer than is medically reasonable, in the view of their physicians. Waits for cardiac surgery are 145% longer than medically reasonable, 90% longer for orthopedics (hips and knees) and 75% longer for ophthalmologic (cataracts and lens replacement) surgery….

Because of these price controls, Naderite organizations in the U.S. have been backing bus trips to Quebec to buy drugs for seniors in New York and New England. But few Americans know how they would be treated if they were residents of Quebec. A National Post article in 1998 claimed that a government study — not made public — had catalogued deaths in Quebec resulting from the lack of availability of lifesaving drugs. Efforts to reduce spending on pharmaceuticals doesn’t take account of the fact that drugs are often the cheapest, most cost-effective way of treating many ailments. Nor do they acknowledge that government spending on drugs is less than 5% of the total health-care budget. Efforts to control drug costs also mean that many drugs available in the U.S. and Europe are delayed entry to the Canadian market.

Gutterball Number Five: Wrong On Terrorists Who Murdered Americans

Moore is anti-American even when we strike back at terrorists who murdered thousands of our people. In the previously mentioned interview with Tim Russert, he is asked: Do you understand why, when we’re attacked as we were on 9/11/01, the American people want to go to Afghanistan to punish the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, the people “who killed their fellow Americans”? Moore replies, incredibly: “No, I don’t understand that.” He also calls “nutty” the idea of an anti-missile defense system that would protect us from an attack. Thus, Moore is against handguns for personal defense and he’s against our collectively defending ourselves against a missile attack.

At least he is consistent. Consistently goofy.