Lancer Kind, Science Fiction author

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Soylent Green used as a reference to single payer health care

12 August, 2009 (01:14) | Uncategorized | By: Lancer Kind

Fox News, our lovely disinformation network, has invoked science fiction to protect you from health care. Fox News talking-head Neil Cavuto references Soylent Green as a vision of what he thinks of the plans to reform health care. He says that people are going to be encouraged to commit suicide when they get old.

Maybe, maybe not. It’s a wild ass guess. As a science fiction author I think–yeah, that could make a good story. And of course, writing such things would put me in the FICTION section rather than on Fox News, and they seem to think they deserve a non-fiction status. He could also imagine that they would just poor kerosene over you and light you on fire rather than turn you into the food product Soylent Green. (A nice burning hospital bed has better dramatic appeal on camera.  Soylent Green’s visualization of the end was a bit weak, in my opinion.

But let’s go with Neil’s scenario no matter how likely or unlikely it is.  If you were encouraged to make a choice between assisted suicide and treatment, at least the choice would be yours.  Today, the choice is only yours if you can afford (or your insurance will cover it) to pay the cost of the medical procedure. If you can’t, then you don’t have a choice, you just die.

Fox News fails to mention that a single payer health care system doesn’t mean that the wealthy will be kept from buying their own health care.

Maybe I need to say that again: Today, the wealthy can get as much care as they afford. With single payer health care, the wealthy can get as much care as they can afford.

The difference is that the regular guy will be able to get health care too. Will he be encouraged, as in Soylent Green, to give up his life before his time? Not likely. I’ve never heard of this happening in any of the nationalized health care countries: Great Britain, Taiwan, Canada, France, Japan, to name a few.

But being reasonable isn’t a “core competency” of Fox News. That’s not their goal. Their goal is to control your opinion and they’ll use their imagination, their writers, their editors, and their news network to shape you opinion to their will.

Hmm… sounds like a good science fiction story. Have you heard of Max Headroom? Fox News, the next Network 23, hmmm?

Commentary on Neil’s use of Activist SF

Fox News’s use of Soylent Green is an Activist Science Fiction play. Neil is attempting to leverage the cultural understanding of the movie to short-cut his argument to the Fox News viewers. He successfully talks of a situation in the movie and tries to use it to scare the viewer into associating it with what is happening today with single payer health care. Soylent Green’s theme is about the dehumanizing effect overpopulation will have. Health Care also would be dehumanized, so these theme fits with what Neil is saying. But there are some problems here which ultimately make this a not very effective bit of activism:

  • Soylent Green, or the book it’s based on, Make Room, Make Room, isn’t a pervasively known in the US.  Most of the Fox News audience isn’t going to have a clue.
  • Movies with themes of why you should control your population is a pretty liberal concept. The Fox News audience is not liberal except for a sprinkling of Libertarians who watch Fox News because they associate themselves with any movement that says they’re against taxes (whether or not that movement actually reduces taxes)

Now if Neil used references to the Left Behind books and movies, he’d hit his audience square on the mark.