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On the Lighter Side

John Q., National Health Care and the Hollywood Left

by Donald A. Tevault

Denzel Washington is a brilliant actor who wastes his talent by starring in some really stupid, poorly-written movies. I now only watch his movies whenever I happen to be someplace where one is playing on television. That was the case a few nights ago, when I saw John Q. on the Starz channel. John Q. isn't just a bad movie, though. It's also a two-hour long propaganda piece that extols the virtues of national, government-run health care.

John Q. Archibald, played by Mr. Washington, is the main character. He's a typical blue-collar family man whose son will soon die if he doesn't receive a heart transplant. Mr. Archibald doesn't have health insurance, though, and the hospital isn't willing to perform the surgery if there's no chance of getting paid for it. So, our "hero" follows the only logical path. He gets a gun and takes the staff and patients of the hospital emergency room hostage. His demand is simple; he wants a free heart transplant for his son. When the police make contact with him to negotiate, he states his demand, but gives his name only as "John Q.". The police are left to figure out on their own who is in need of the new heart. (This is one reason why I say the movie is poorly written.) Of course, as luck would have it, a woman gets killed in a cheesily-staged car accident, and a new heart becomes available. The hospital staff finally give in, the kid gets his heart and John Q. finally lets the hostages go. In the process, John Q. becomes a hero for the cause of National Health Care.

During the hostage crisis, the movie's news media go out and interview people on the street concerning the case. The interviewees all echo the same message. The rich don't care, because they can afford health care. The rich don't want to pay the taxes to set up National Health Care. Yadda-yadda-yackity-smack. A stream of liberal politicians-- including Hillary herself--make cameo appearances in which they praise the courage of John Q. and encourage people to vote for National Health Care. No one offers any opposing view.

This movie takes advantage of many American voters' ignorance about history and economics. The movie's producers know that they can bamboozle the public into supporting their socialist pet programs. Had these producers not been allergic to proven fact, they could have included the following:

  • Socialized health care in other countries has been a disaster. Competition is eliminated, so anyone who isn't satisfied with quality of care no longer has the option to change hospitals or doctors. Any incentive for a customer to control expenses is also eliminated, so the system becomes clogged with people who run to the doctor when they don't really need to; this has already happened in the Medicare system.
  • Our current health care system isn't perfect. That's partly because of the government meddling that's already taken place. Before World War II, each person was responsible for buying health insurance for himself and his family. If rates were too high, the people in a given community would pool their money to make a bulk buy of health insurance. This would help bring the rates down, and people would be insured even if they were between jobs. During the war, government policies encouraged employers to provide health care insurance for their employees. Because of that, when people lose their jobs, they also lose insurance coverage. It has also taken away some incentive for people to control health care expenses, though not to the extent that socialized health care would.
  • There's already a National Health Care system in place for the elderly. It's called Medicare. The Medicare system is rife with fraud, and--due to its system of price controls--has caused the cost of care outside of the Medicare system to rise. (Doctors need to charge higher prices for non-Medicare customers in order to make up for the lower fees mandated for Medicare patients.)
  • For folk like John Q., there are already private charity groups and state grant programs that could have helped him out. Quite a few years ago, back home in my native Virginia, I knew a real life John Q. who had just lost his job--and insurance--when his son needed an operation to repair a hole in his heart. He found out about Virginia's grant program for people in his situation, and obtained the money for the operation.

As you may have guessed, I don't recommend this movie. Even if it weren't for the socialist message, the movie is just plain bad.

See also:

  • Brace Yourself for ObamaCare Taxes
    Now that President Obama’s health-insurance overhaul has become law, we can brace ourselves for the new taxes. What new taxes? Aren’t they only on the “rich” and on large companies?
    by Sheldon Richman
  • Health Care Reform: We’re Being Fooled Again
    The medical system does need reforming — radical reforming. It’s more expensive than it ought to be, and powerful interests prosper at the expense of the rest of us. The status quo has little about it to be admired, and we shouldn’t tolerate it.
    by Sheldon Richman
  • The Relentless Process of Socializing Health Care
    The movement towards socialized medicine is strong but widely misunderstood. Many ordinary people see health care as a right and complain that it is too expensive.
    by D.W. MacKenzie
  • A Four-Step Health-Care Solution
    It's true that the U.S. health care system is a mess, but this demonstrates not market but government failure. To cure the problem requires not different or more government regulations and bureaucracies, as self-serving politicians want us to believe, but the elimination of all existing government controls.
    by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
  • The Soviet Unionization of Health Care
    Few of us relish paying for health care, but when we do, amazing things happen: Strangers listen to us and try to give us what we want.
    by David R. Henderson and Charles Hooper
  • HillaryCare in Tennessee
    The disaster that might have been for the entire country.
    Wall Street Journal Op-Ed
  • Free health care
    Walter E. Williams describes nightmare inflicted on Canadians.
  • The 'cost' of medical care
    If you ask most people about the cost of medical care, they may tell you how much they have to pay per visit to their doctor's office or the monthly bill for their prescription drugs. But these are not the costs of medical care. These are the prices paid.
    by Thomas Sowell
  • Hillary's back!
    A huge headline on the front of a recent issue of the New York Times Magazine said more than they intended: "Now Are We Ready to Talk About Health Care?" Inside was an article with the same title by Hillary Clinton.
    by Thomas Sowell
  • This measure will not strengthen Medicare
    I voted against the Medicare reform bill because it will not strengthen Medicare and does not responsibly address the need for prescription drug coverage. It will add trillions of dollars onto Medicare's current $13.5 trillion in unfunded liabilities for future generations.
  • Entitlements Are Forever
    Republicans make a bad deal on Medicare.
    Wall Street Journal Op-Ed
  • More freebies for older Americans
    Despite how popular free drug benefits for the elderly may be, and the elderly undoubtedly love the idea, Keith D. Cummings says that it's state sponsored robbery.
  • Letters about medical care
    Reader responses to the discussion of government-controlled medical care in this column raised questions that need answering. The most frequently raised question was why American pharmaceutical drugs sell for less in other countries.
    by Thomas Sowell
  • Free-lunch medicine
    It is always fascinating to see elementary economics make front-page news. It was front-page news in the Wall Street Journal of November 12th that there are long waiting times for seeing medical specialists in Canada and in other countries with government-controlled medical care systems -- but not in the United States, where some politicians are trying to get us to imitate these countries.
    by Thomas Sowell
  • Fitness, Fatness, Freedom – Who Decides?
    Some might call it a symbiosis. We call it a racket: Professional medical worrywarts find or manufacture a problem, label it a crisis, then demand that the government take action.
    by Michael Arnold Glueck and Robert J. Cihak
  • Paying Dearly for Free Prescription Drugs
    As Congress finalizes plans to expand Medicare, more and more seniors are beginning to understand that “free” prescription drugs from the government will carry a very high price tag.
    by Rep. Ron Paul
  • Health and taxes: Even worse than death and taxes
    If you let the government control how you receive health care, says Richard E. Ralston, you get the worst of all worlds.
  • Killing the goose that laid the golden egg
    When it comes to foreign policy, I sleep better at night knowing that Republicans control the White House and the Congress. But on health care, it has lately become difficult to imagine how things could be much worse with the Democrats in charge.
    by Mona Charen
  • Costly Medicare Changes, Without Real Reform
    In "The Medicare Mess" we described some of the problems with the Medicare "reform" bills passed by the U.S. House and Senate last month. We also need to review how the bills shorten the fuse on the demographic time bomb facing Medicare and other entitlements.
    by Michael Arnold Glueck and Robert J. Cihak
  • 'Universal health care': Part III
    Those of us who are getting on in years can remember a time when most people had no health insurance, when we simply paid the doctors or the pharmacies and went on our way, without giving it a second thought.
    by Thomas Sowell
  • The Newest Medical Threat
    How would you like it if every time you went to your doctor, for whatever reason, he asked: Over the past two weeks, have you felt down, depressed, or hopeless? Have you felt little interest or pleasure in doing things?
    by Sheldon Richman
  • A Stupid Way to Get Health Insurance
    Who came up with the idiotic idea that workers should get health insurance through their employers? If it’s such a great idea, why is no one getting their fire and auto insurance that way?
    by Sheldon Richman
  • Health Care Interventionism: A Case Study
    The demise of HealthPlus illustrates the unintended consequences that accompany any government intervention of market forces. In this case, writes Christopher Westley, federal regulations require private owners of hospitals to provide health care to all comers. In this sector, this cannot be done at a profit.
  • Gore Endorses Canada's Medical System
    In a recent newspaper interview, Al Gore finally came out of the socialist closet and declared that the "solution" to what he deems as a "crisis" in U.S. medical care is for the government to impose a "single payer system." While some folks might consider Gore's remarks a setback to the possibilities of actually establishing free market healthcare in this country, actually I believe it presents an opportunity for advocates of freedom and private property to make the case that should have been made all along.
    by William L. Anderson
  • Marcus Welby Doesn't Live Here Anymore
    How Bismarck and the Tooth Fairy created the health-care "crisis."
  • "Bad Medicine" or Bad Economics?
    While most of the writings of Paul Krugman are, to me, analogous to one’s scraping his fingernails on a chalkboard, I must admit to reading his stuff. His latest gripe about a story on how many doctors are refusing to see more Medicare patients provides ample proof that one can be called an "economist," yet not know much about economics.
    by William L. Anderson
  • The Trouble with Medicare
    One of the most difficult chapters in life is the art of growing old thoughtfully and gracefully. While the frailties of age multiply and the pains grow sharper, the lamp of experience hopefully has given us wisdom that allows us to cope with our frailties. Yet many an old temptation may come to us and becloud our vision. We may be tempted especially by politics which always has been the systematic organization of power and privilege.
    by Hans F. Sennholz

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