Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream

Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream

2012, Society  -   94 Comments
8.21
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Ratings: 8.21/10 from 245 users.

In America, the rich are getting richer. Isn't that great? Doesn't that mean there's lots more wealth to go round? Or is it good news for the rich but very bad news for the poor?

740 Park Avenue, Manhattan, is one of the most exclusive addresses in the world, home to some of the richest Americans, the 1% of the 1%. Ten minutes to the north, across the Harlem River, is the other Park Avenue, in the South Bronx. Here, unemployment runs at 19% and half the population need food stamps.

The American Dream of equal opportunities and hard work says you can be born in the Bronx and end up at 740. But is that dream still true? The film argues the super-rich haven't just bought the exclusive addresses – they've bought the whole system and they're running it for themselves.

The U.S. became the world's largest economy because it invented products and then manufactured them with new processes and technology.

It is essential that the U.S. rebuild its manufacturing capabilities - not the assembly-line jobs of yesterday but the high-tech advanced manufacturing of the future - to restart the cycle of invention and production. It's the only way to address the horrendous debt and put Americans back to work.

The problems are compounded by an undereducated, entitled population, a permanently unemployed underclass, lack of universal healthcare, fighting asinine wars and ludicrous government spending however, if the political will is there, the U.S. can emulate Germany, Scandinavia and Japan by paying high wages and running surpluses in manufactured goods.

To accomplish this, the U.S. must make what it invents. However, couple the blatant ignorance of much of the electorate, whose brains are bound by cult-like devotion to some mythical god, with the gross incompetence of their elected officials and the future does not bode well for the American dream.

The foundation of any strong democracy is an educated and healthy population.

The documentary does a fine job of pointing out how the U.S. has dropped the ball on both counts and allowed greedy oligarchs and corrupt professional self-centered politicians to mismanage its priorities beyond belief.

Directed by: Alex Gibney

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bram
bram
6 years ago

AARGH! AUDIO VOLUME!
I was wearing headphones when watching, and as the movie starts, it hammered my eardrums. Seriously... use some normal audio levels please.

Travis Thoeming
Travis Thoeming
7 years ago

All this mention of the Koch Brothers, and yet no mention of their equivalent on the left: George Soros. It goes both ways, and both parties are to blame for this mess.

Maria
Maria
9 years ago

I hope people realise that Sctoo Walker wasn't set up by the owner of a pizza shop around the corner...he was set up by people who are far worse than he was. So when you think that justice prevailed...think again...he was nothing but a pawn to the higher up.

Paul Rainwater
Paul Rainwater
9 years ago

Great film, especially relevant with the latest news about a Scott Walker criminal investigation, this film exposes the hypocrisy and political conspiracy of the ultra rich and corrupt politicians, the evil Koch brothers and their ilk. Now Prosecutors are going after the hypocrite and corrupt Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) who is at the center of a criminal conspiracy to illegally coordinate the activities of independent conservative groups during recall elections in his state in 2011 and 2012, according to documents released Thursday and first reported on by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

JJay
JJay
10 years ago

Come on, we can all talk and talk and chat and chat about these things, but when do we bring it into practice? Its like developing a theory without ever testing it!

I propose to just start to share these documentaries, simply to create more consciousness among the general population. Just do it, really.

You know why? I want my kids to grow up in a free world, I'm still young and live in west-europe, where it is still not as crazy as in the U.S. It will be if these guys are not going to be stopped.

I'm sending to Obama all day about how he is supposed to protect the Americans, and care for them. How can he, and not only Mr. President, but also the whole senate let this happen? How can you be so low that you don't want to throw the facts on the table and let people know what is going on? Why are we still learning things on school which creates a false image of the world?

Somebody has to let you know that this happens, or you have to come across these things by coincidence, otherwise you'll simply never know about the kind of things that happen in this unequal world!

I still have faith in humanity that this will be resolved! The psychopaths have to be kicked of their thrones!!

Lisa
Lisa
10 years ago

Let's also talk about George Soros and his open checkbook to Democrats, shall we?

Lisa
Lisa
10 years ago

Talk about one sided propaganda! They're allowing this to be shown in schools? Really? In all fairness, they should also show "2016- Obama's America" to these kids too.

DReview
DReview
10 years ago

I think on the next election, we need to focus on who is funding whom.

I'm voting against anyone the Koch Brothers are Funding. And I believe anyone with a good sense in mind should do to. These guys are the puppet masters of everything that has been going wrong in this country for the last decade and a half. Including their relationships with ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Commission), their Involvent in CCA (Private Prisons), and their Lobbying Against finding resolutions in immigration (to keep illegal immigrants in the country to fill up prisons for profit is wrong!!!)

milsma
milsma
10 years ago

This was fantastic but the Ayn Rand slant was excessive and unnecessary. The wealthy do a great job of convincing the masses to turn their anger against each other and the lower classes - a classic diversion tactic for pick pockets. They cry against the concept of income re-distribution but fail to recognize that it's happening in reverse right now. The top are taking from the middle and have been 30 years.

ross
ross
10 years ago

The documentary didn't actually make an opinion of Ayn Rand's novel. For me it highlighted how desperate the 1%ers are to take an outdated idea and twist it as a doctrine for an outdated system that was tried and has left some pretty dazzling and unquantifiable results. Especially on the environment.

It is a doctrine that was radical back in the day, and it is possibly meant for the lower classes and not the upper classes.

It gets spun out, as lots of things do, to pluck on the heartstrings of American society, as an outrage. To spread fear that something has been taken away from them, to induce fear and soak up all those tax breaks and re-invest in new ways to ruin the planet.

Taxes were always only meant for the poor. It's only when the rich get taxed do we have really big global problems, because they have rigged the system with these in mind. Change it too quickly and we have chaos. It really needs to be a global change and that will never work because every country is fighting against every country over the power of their currency.

Erika
Erika
10 years ago

Their opinion of Ayn Rand's novel makes no difference to me and to focus on it would be to miss the point. Make no mistake, the deep pockets of the 1% are influencing BOTH conservative and liberal parties. This is a biased, but accurate documentary. But to replace this system with socialism makes no sense either, trading one evil for another. So what now?

Justin Tanner
Justin Tanner
10 years ago

This documentary is garbage, i just watched it on Netflix, the way it portrays the issues is obviously slanted towards a socialist view. The worst part was how it completely misrepresented Atlas Shrugged and objectivism. In Atlas Shrugged the largest "moochers" are not the "poor", they are the entitled rich, their lobbyists, and the government power brokers that this documentary is railing against. If anything AS should have been lauded, but no you demeaned it (and lied) because Ayn Rand is anti-socialist and doesn't fit your narrative.

This documentary is biased and it's not advocating anything except replacing a broken system with a different, equally broken system where nothing will change except who controls it. The film makers should be ashamed of themselves.

Al Rodriguez
Al Rodriguez
10 years ago

Now I understand why US is going down the way it goes.Americans just can not handle their greed.

Dan Brady
Dan Brady
10 years ago

I watched the first half, enjoying the exploration of the shift in wealth concentration over the last several years, and the expose of how the ultra-rich get what they want out of Congress.

They lost me when they misrepresented Ayn Rand's work so miserably, though. It called everything I'd seen up to that point into question.

Aplaz Payroll
Aplaz Payroll
11 years ago

Just remember there is only "ONE" pie! Therefore although, 1% of 1% have so much wealth... That leaves 99.999999999% that must continue to work so that all the goods and services sold by the 1% of 1% can continue to live the lavish lifestyle!

Imagine that tomorrow gasoline becomes obsolete and hydrogen becomes the fuel of the future! The Koch's would have to go on welfare... Poetic justice...

One day you'll see the pendulum of life strike hard and when it does come not even our elected officials will be able to stop it.

If you imagine for a moment that the 99.99% can not pay for the goods and services the 1% of 1% will suffer greatly! Until then, let them enjoy the wealth that they have accumulated! They earned it the old fashioned way.... Rob, cheat and steal... Rob from by not paying their fair share of taxes... Cheat because they have paid, the lawmakers to make them wealthier... and Steal because there is no law that will put them in jail... Look at the global economy's demise over the last half decade! Did the rich get richer? YES! did the poor lose, YES...

Understand that it is what it is and no human on this earth can stop them.

Now ask yourself this QUESTION? WHAT IF YOU WERE ONE OF THE 1% of 1%? WHAT WOULD YOU REALLY DO... NOT JUST TALK ABOUT IT BUT WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

That's a wrap for now... God Bless us all, One Nation with liberty and freedom for all.

Todd Morrow
Todd Morrow
11 years ago

So billionaires live in that old crappy ugly building?!? AHAHAHAAHAAAHAHAAAA!!!!! love it.

Nothing_Is_Real
Nothing_Is_Real
11 years ago

Every thing we see in this doc. that balances the books for the rich is made possible by Privatized Banking, when we printed our own intrest free money without privatized banks everyone made money. That was taken care of by Privatized Banking assasination of every president that apposed Privatized Banking, virtually every President that has ever been assasinsted. Privatized Banking keeps the people in a constant stae of debt that will never be paid off.

Nothing_Is_Real
Nothing_Is_Real
11 years ago

How come the planes of 911 didn't hit 740 Park Avenue, Manhattan, oh yeh, because they helped plan and funded the False Flag 911.

Nothing_Is_Real
Nothing_Is_Real
11 years ago

We are only born equal, after that the books are stacked one way or the other depending on how much money your parents had whenyou were born and how much of that was stolen by the privatized banking industry of the ne wworld order. The ignorance of the American people still amazes me still choosing one party over another party thinking that they are making a difference. There is only one party the "Privatized Banking Party" it is a government 'Of the rich, by the rich, for the rich' controling the media,( what we see on tv is bulls**t), education, ( what we were taught as our history is bulls**t ) Industry, ( control production to keep prices high) competition, (there is none, companies meet secretly to set prices nation wide, availablities of utilities cannot cross borders just like mafia territories resulting in no competition between utility companies). We are so busy hording our little bundle of cash we can't see that we are just like the people we put in office. Money makes you mean and uncaring. All of these rich self centered, disgusting individual have to say is GOD BLESS AMERICA and the ignorant blind sheep wiil kiss their *ss. Oh, by the way God Bless America.

Ricky Philizaire
Ricky Philizaire
11 years ago

Really Good Documentary!!

manfruss
manfruss
11 years ago

The US has become one of the worlds least socially mobile countries.

Glen Dooer
Glen Dooer
11 years ago

If you don't like living in USSA or any other "free" country get out while you still can because it is all downhill from here.

USSA is facing another civil war this its the fed's versus the people.

Naomi Cas
Naomi Cas
11 years ago

If money is your priority in life, fine, go for it. But what some of us have a problem with is the clear widespread fraud that can clearly be observed. Rewards normally require risk, in a free market that is. But we have now a system where people expect to collect rewards without any of the risks: making highly leveraged risky bets and blackmailing the rest of society into bailing out the losses when they fail miserably. We no longer have a free market. Money is being used to buy tools to rig the game. It is a monopoly where some players are not allowed to loose. If they start loosing (bad luck or stupidity) all the other players have to give them money so they can continue to play, and if there is not enough money they can jump to the position “print” and make sure the game continues. Of course it is no longer a game is it? It is an aimless and unsustainable spiral, “players” aimlessly going around the board with increasingly worthless piles of money.

I am not sure these people ever think and ask themselves: what is the point? For me money is just a tool to have more freedom. But these people are not free. They are bound to their treadmill just like a minimum wage worker. Being able to buy stuff does not make you free or happy or cultured or smart or healthy.
Some of us have taken their chips, gone home and are no longer playing the game.

Adrian Larsson
Adrian Larsson
11 years ago

1: KIll the rich.
2: Government take over the businesses.
3: More unions.
4: ???
5: Profit!!

seamus watson
seamus watson
11 years ago

I literally felt sick watching this. The land of opportunity? Ayn Rand has a lot to answer for.

KsDevil
KsDevil
11 years ago

740 Park Avenue? Hmmm. Seems like putting all your eggs in one basket might be dangerous.

Scott Baker
Scott Baker
11 years ago

Food stamps are a subsidy for the rich too. Walmart gave classes to its employees to train them in how to apply for Food Stamps & other gov't programs, to offset their Always Low Wages.

BillH
BillH
11 years ago

now compare the life of the average American poor person living on food stamps to someone in say, Somalia or Ethiopia, or western China....by comparison they are rich rich rich,these politically connected Americans who dring clean water and get to go to sleep well fed everynight! imagine!

I have met and "hung out" with a lot of very rich people....I don't envy them, they are not that happy as a rule, only 10% or so are real human beings who look in your eyes and truly relate to you. Largely they are inflated by the idea of all this money they have, which gets in the way of letting them be able to afford to be human. They are isolated by their wealth into a rarified society of other a--holes,(of whom they are deeply envious) who have even many more millions or billions than they have. They don't understand "content" only perma- ambition

rockguitardude
rockguitardude
11 years ago

Just looking at this as objectively a I can, I think this was a very well done documentary. I enjoyed the frame story of the 740 Park Ave. address to tackle the standard rich-people-getting-their-fingers-in-government story with a little twist.

I also applaud this documentary for not going after the people making more than just $250,000 per year. I know this seems like a lot of money to some but these people are mostly your dual income professional households. In New York, a teacher married to an engineer will bring home this sum with ease.

These people have money for "nice" cars and homes but no money for real political influence beyond maybe going to a dinner for a county executive or something like that. Not the kind of clout a billionaire has obviously.

The real problem is these hedge fund guys who really don't "make" anything. They move paper and monopoly money around to make billions. These people didn't earn the money the same way others do in my mind. This may be a personal prejudice of mine against bankers but it is what it is. I find the fortune that Bill Gates made with Microsoft, and others like him, to be much more respectable in this regard.

In my opinion the dividing line of $250,000 per year income is a red herring. A billionaire could make zero and just draw down on principal and never run out of money. The real dividing line is those who need to work to achieve sustenance vs those who don't. This is measured by net worth, not income. If you have $10,000,000 in the bank, at a rate of return of 5%, you make $500,000 per year. This, to me, appears to be the real dividing line.

Yamaan Farhat
Yamaan Farhat
11 years ago

In times like this its best to rob the rich and feed the poor.

Odd Sigve Tendenes Tengesdal
Odd Sigve Tendenes Tengesdal
11 years ago

We need a Bane (Dark Knight Rises), tho with less violence.

silkop
silkop
11 years ago

Just like Republicans like to misrepresent Democrats as "socialists" (an insult?), this film misrepresents Rand as a some sort of "bloodsucking capitalist". In other words, it is another crappy, biased film which starts with a predetermined agenda and then presents only what fits.

Viewers are advised to read Rand's book for themselves to see whom she really criticized and glorified (and possibly where she got it wrong).

Sertsis
Sertsis
11 years ago

I've always believed that in order to take government(s) away from big biz, and give it back to the people is to kick all of the special interests out of Washington, and strictly enforce greatly reduced limits to political contributions and spending. Maybe you'll get some politicians and policies that favor the true shareholders of your country, the voters. And not just in America, this needs to happen globally.

Brent Kingi
Brent Kingi
11 years ago

Most of the people in the 1% earned their wealth over decades, some were businesses handed down through the family etc. I have no issue with those who got rich because they had great ideas and brought them to the market for the people to enjoy.

It's those who get rich through political association. It's the cronyism in this corporatist system that is the problem. Not the rich. We have too big a government sticking its filthy hands all over the economy, manipulating it in favor of a few at the expense of the many. Hate the politicians and the political system, not the rich who earned their wealth.

CarimboHanky
CarimboHanky
11 years ago

sometimes i think its easier for people to blame the rich for their poverty that blame themselves... welfare wont make you rich, get up your lazy and work... thats how you get out of poverty. the so called "1%" got there because they work for it...

Peter Wilson
Peter Wilson
11 years ago

A poor person seeks to be a richer person. How is it done? He seeks to own more assets---real estate, money, valuable goods etc. The true freedom to negotiate with others and to offer services in exchange for money and goods serves the cause. Only "government" can use force to impede and even block the poor person's efforts, force the use of an "official" currency (Federal Reserve notes), and it is "government" that claims ownership control of the poor person's home and earnings, so that he cannot truly own anything. What do you have to negotiate in a power struggle if you don't truly own anything? The "government" can take his home away if he doesn't pay the "rent" (property taxes) and the "government" will lock him up if he doesn't give up whatever earnings they demand (payroll, property, sales, income taxes). Rich people learn to use "government" control to get more and more phoney federal reserve notes which gives them more assets to negotiate with. It is "government's" invalid claim to ownership control of honest hardworking people's earnings and property along with it's coercive controls of how an honest person does business and what currencies they choose to utilize that obstructs a poor person's attempts to become richer. This doc actually proposes MORE government control and ownership claims as the solution!? When that is exactly how the established rich ensure further domination. Not a good call. And by the way; the Koch brothers are in no way libertarians---they love big and domineering government; that's where all the control is. Watch what they do, not what they say. These doc makers fell for their trick (calling what they do "free market" when it is the very opposite) all the way.

Bogdan Gherghel
Bogdan Gherghel
11 years ago

what if a group of "domestic terrorists" would come up with a plan and assassinate all these super-rich in a week or so, regardless of receiving the death penalty afterwards?

Mike Porter
Mike Porter
11 years ago

Many politicians and business tycoons seem to be afflicted by psychopathy. It's an understatement to say they don't play by the rules. These are extremely intelligent people that experience impunity with every destructive action they take. They are protected by laws they design. Psychopathy is a brain/personality disorder of a parasitic nature. There is no cure.
Cheers.

Nakor4Twunny
Nakor4Twunny
11 years ago

I've been poor my whole life. My life has honestly been terrible. I'm 33, and I can honestly say, when I see these people, I don't get mad at them, because I know that most people with their access are going to be that way. It sucks but it's true. That doesn't change the fact that if I had the ability, I would live that lifestyle too.

Sharon Hutchinson
Sharon Hutchinson
11 years ago

I could never understand--just how much money does one person need? After a certain point, the accumulation of wealth becomes an absurdity.

"A man should not be known by how much he has, but by how much he can give away."

Trevis Robotie
Trevis Robotie
11 years ago

hell's just across the river from heaven,always has been and always will be

kaitse8
kaitse8
11 years ago

Greed is good, greed works, LOL

oQ
oQ
11 years ago

Saw this one a few days ago on Films For Actions...interesting!
Eddie Murphy's... Trading Places comes to mind..might as well laugh about it all.
The best place to live in that building would be in the basement with a photo darkroom and a wood stove.
1i

a_no_n
a_no_n
11 years ago

The American Dream was the single greatest hoax ever purported by an organization outside of organized religion.

"if you work hard enough, you'll one day be rich"...It's almost as good as "Be good or you'll go to hell"
It's a wonderful device to coerce people into towing the party line, and if you can get people to actually believe it and indoctrinate this naivety into their children, then you're set for life...Mix both lines together, get a major news network to constantly define what you think people ought to consider "right" and "hard work" and who needs slaves?

Personally i don't think it was ever possible for your average person to get from the Bronx to 740.