The documentary Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream, by Alex Gibney, is an exposition of two different lives and dreams of the American people. 740 Park Avenue houses the wealthy Americans, and the South Bronx houses the poor people. The documentary makes a comparison between the political and economic opportunities in both South Bronx and the Upper East Side. An interview with a doorman who once worked at 740 Park Avenue by journalist Jane Mayer indicates that life in the Park Avenue is unique and very different from that of the outside world. Other characters in the documentary include Bruce Bartlett, an advisor to the Republican Party; Jacob Hacker; and Professor Paul Piff. The 740 Park Avenue is an apartment in New York City that has a pretty crazy history as it has housed the richest people not only in the United States but the entire world. The main point presented in the documentary is the huge gap that exists between the poor and the rich.
The wealthy people are considered to be controlling America both politically and economically while the poor are concentrating on how to labor for less than forty dollars a day just to survive their daily lives. The wealthy people seem to be driving the policies that affect all people, particularly those that favor them, and the poor have little or no say on these matters, even if they have a direct impact on their lives. Therefore, the system that is created by such acts makes it easier for the rich to become richer while making the poor find it difficult to escape poverty.
The documentary presents some wealthy people like David Koch and his brother among others who are enjoying their generational legacy of wealth and are now using it to buy the American Dream. The rich are the owners of about 90 percent of America's monetary assets (Zakaria 88). Among these rich people are the residents of Park Avenue who make up the ruling class of America. They are at liberty to shift the economic policies to favor their interests while the inhabitants of South Bronx who are close by are living in inescapable poverty. The poor have little to no control over national policies even those that have a direct impact on their lives. The differences explained in the documentary show that an enormous rift separates the two classes with regards to the quality of life, their ambitions and access to opportunities.
The American dream that many children of the poor and the rich seem to share is just a fairy tale dream for many adults in the South Bronx. Even the elected president Donald Trump said that the dream is dead (Gerson par. 1). The rich have bought the dream, and there is nothing left for the poor. The dream of having more access to better education, medical services, and political goodwill among other goals become distinct as the children of the poor start to face the realities of the harsh life (Mayer 92). Families struggle to educate their children in underperforming schools, and they make them do hard work to make just a few hundred from labor to help sustain their families. The South Bronx people rely on the government medical aids that are technically supplied by the people in Park Avenue due to the influence they have on both government and non-governmental institutions. While this is the case in South Bronx, the documentary explains that the wealthy people of Park Avenue have crafted new techniques that make them control absolutely everything in the economy. They have been engaged in sponsoring politicians running for various offices. The rich are therefore involved in lawmaking and government policies in exchange for reduced taxes on their immense fortunes at their disposal. In doing this, the government has greatly reduced the tax rates applicable to the rich so as to appease their Money Masters. The sad part about such actions is that the people struggling with life at South Bronx are the ones who feel the repercussions. A little increase in prices for the basics in life has caused big economic crises for the poor. It is, therefore, evident that the system makes it easier for the rich to acquire more wealth while the poor are left struggling to satisfy their basic needs with no influence whatsoever on matters affecting the nation. In the 1980s America was a country with the majority of its inhabitants being middle-class people. The political isolation meant that all the interests of the citizens were the leading agendas in American politics (Blakely 197). The American Dream was aimed at opening opportunities in every place of the American economy and politics to all irrespective of neither social nor economic disparities, (Phillips 66). However, the perception of equality has since been eroded by the rapid growth of the wealthy of the few economy heavyweights that are well known as the one percent that controls America. The documentary shows that most of the wealthy people are the conservatives and the liberals whose demands to lower the tax to a flat rate of 15% were let down by Democrats and Republican reformists.The difference between the two classes of people is illustrated by the numerous Non-Profit making organizations that Koch Brothers efficiently use to control political and education sectors for the wealthy. Some political blueprints like Americans for Prosperity are among many other strategies that the rich use to access opportunities in the government to make themselves richer (Sowell 58). The documentary argues that without better education, money in the banks, and good political will a person cannot be competitive in the society. The poor residents of South Bronx cannot compete with the rich since they are economically disadvantages hence have no influence in the society. That is why they will remain poor laborers and servants of the rich while the wealthy, with all the influence and opportunity at their disposal, will remain competitive, become more successful and run the world. The wealthy obstruct economic mobility, influence the passing of laws that favor them and are not concerned about the misfortune of the poor people. According to the research done by Marlow Stern, most of the Americans residing in the major cities in the United States believe that the money in the dark are sweeping away American democracy and that soon the voiceless class of low earners will have nothing at their defense but prayers. The entire system is swiftly tilting against the lower income citizens. What do the rich people benefit from continuing to pursue wealth to gain influence in the American politics, especially The Senate and The White House? The research explains that there are more hidden motives that these political investors get or expect to get as compared to the costs they earn in the process. When the supported candidates assume power, they are made to act like puppets that only work for the interests of their sponsors. The Koch Brothers, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, Sheldon Adelson and Bill & Melinda Gates are among the most influential election sponsors.Koch Brothers, arguably the most powerful amongst them, spent more than $290M in 2014 in the political arrangements and built up for this years elections (Mayer). They use a very complicated network of companies and non-profit organizations to shuttle the money across the country. Another casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is valued at around38B dollars spent, in 2012 a whopping 93 billion dollars in an attempt to stop President Obama from becoming the Commander in Chief. The Daily Beast also reports that, in this years elections, Adelson further spent 100 million dollars to thwart Democrats running for Senate. These two examples show how sharp these super rich people are in controlling the politics and economy of the nation while not holding any position in the government. When all of these unified political deals are made, it only means more misery to common people who cannot stand to compete with the rich or influence a decision.
The documentary Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream illustrates how the wealthiest people of the nation have rigged the system in order to claim a disproportionate share of America's wealth. They, in turn, use the wealth to influence policymakers who come with strategies that widen the gap between the less fortunate and the rich. The poor work hard but it seems not to be paying off. It seems only to support their basic needs since the corruption, and radical ideologies of the rich suppress them making it difficult to escape poverty. In conclusion, the documentary shows that the wealthy have obstructed the economic mobility of America and show no concern for the problems that face poor people. The manifestation of the unjust conduct of the wealthy is aimed at encouraging people to assist in the re-establishment of the legislation and laws that genuinely constitute economic equality.
Alex Gibney, Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream - Why Poverty. 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6niWzomA_So
Blakely, Edward J. "Fortress America Separate and Not Equal." The Human Metropolis: People and Nature in the 21st-Century City [full book] (2006): 197.
Gerson, Michael. "Despite What Trump And Sanders Say, The American Dream Has Not Been Stolen." Washington Post. N.p., 2016. Web. 1 Dec. 2016.
Mayer, Jane. Dark Money: How a Secretive Group of Billionaires Is Trying to Buy Political Control in the Us. 2016. https://mic.com/articles/98188/the-10-billionaires-who-run-america#.w7GwfqYEu
Phillips, Kevin. The Politics of Rich and Poor: Wealth and the American Electorate in the Reagan Aftermath. New York: Random House, 1990. https://fee.org/articles/book-review-the-politics-of-rich-and-poor-wealth-and-the-american-electorate-in-the-reagan-aftermath-by-kevin-phillips/
Phillips, Kevin P. Wealth, and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich. New York: Broadway Books, 2003. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/111917.Wealth_and_Democracy
Zakaria, Fareed. From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America's World Role. Princeton: Princeton University 2001. http://press.princeton.edu/titles/6306.html
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