Google and HMOs

by Miguel de Icaza

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading when I found a link to the Michael Moore new movie Sicko playing at Moore had made some comments at the time about his position on the leaked movie. When I saw this on reddit I thought it was a joke, but there it was in

So I watched the entire thing at the time, I was up until 4am in the morning watching it.

Tonight am going with Laura and some friends that did not see it to watch it again at the theater.

A Handful of Events

For years I have been incredibly annoyed at the power that special interest groups have over policy making in the United States. It all begun by reading Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and the progressive sites.

Around that time there were a series of events happening, but I was too busy with the Moonlight hack-a-thon.

Luis Villa posted a link to Larry Lessig post where he has decided to move his work and activism in a different direction, a much needed one: . You should read the whole thing, but here are some bits that I found interesting:

If you've been reading these pages recently, you'll know my allergy to that word. But this friend's use of the term not to condemn me, but rather as play, made me recognize just how general this corruption is. Of course he would expect I was in the pay of those whose interests I advanced. Why else would I advance them? Both he and I were in a business in which such shilling was the norm. It was totally reasonable to thus expect that money explained my desire to argue with him about public policy.

I don't want to be a part of that business. And more importantly, I don't want this kind of business to be a part of public policy making. We've all been whining about the "corruption" of government forever. We all should be whining about the corruption of professions too. But rather than whining, I want to work on this problem that I've come to believe is the most important problem in making government work.

And so as I said at the top (in my "bottom line"), I have decided to shift my academic work, and soon, my activism, away from the issues that have consumed me for the last 10 years, towards a new set of issues: Namely, these. "Corruption" as I've defined it elsewhere will be the focus of my work. For at least the next 10 years, it is the problem I will try to help solve.

The other thing that bothered me at the time was that one of the Supreme Court Justices in the United States became an apologist for torture:

The conservative jurist stuck up for Agent Bauer, arguing that fictional or not, federal agents require latitude in times of great crisis. "Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. ... He saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent's rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand. [...]

So there you have it, America making sound legal decisions based on the hit-show 24.

Google and HMOs

The US is a country that has grown to believe that two differing points of view should be given "equal time" to portray their position regardless of the value of the arguments.

Except things are not fair and not equal in a country where you get the best democracy that money can buy.

So Michael Moore presents a film in 2007 after 30 years of HMO propaganda and will be up against a multi-billion dollar industry that will use every tool at their disposal to keep the profits rolling, and the health service at the lowest possible level.

And now we have Google's Health Advertising team pitching their services to a rotten industry (from Boingboing).

They are willing to help this industry catapult the propaganda:

Many of our clients face these issues; companies come to us hoping we can help them better manage their reputations through "Get the Facts" or issue management campaigns. Your brand or corporate site may already have these informational assets, but can users easily find them?

We can place text ads, video ads, and rich media ads in paid search results or in relevant websites within our ever-expanding content network. Whatever the problem, Google can act as a platform for educating the public and promoting your message. We help you connect your company’s assets while helping users find the information they seek.

If you're interested in learning more about issue management campaigns or about how we can help your company better connect its assets online, email us. We'd love to hear from you! Setting up these campaigns is easy and we're happy to share best practices.

Ah, "Get The Facts" campaigns to better manager company reputations. Where have I heard that one before?.

Sure, Google could keep selling their ads and do Get the Facts campaigns out, but actively reaching out to this rotten industry saddens me.

Update: An official response from Google.

Posted on 30 Jun 2007