Kansas City, KS/MO - Events Local News Contact
Film Screening: Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream
Wed, Jan 29, 2014 7pm to 9:30pm
UMKC, Student Union Theater, 5100 Cherry, Kansas City, MO 64110 · Cost: Free
Jan 8, 2014

Free and Open to the Public with a panel discussion following the film.

This screening is sponsored by the UMKC Economics Club, the Jobs Now! Coalition, and the Friends of Community Media.

More information about the film: http://www.whypoverty.net/en/all-about/park-avenue/.

SHORT SYNOPSIS

740 Park Ave, NY is home to some of the wealthiest Americans. 10 minutes to the north, over the Harlem River, is the other Park Avenue in South Bronx, where more than half the population needs food stamps and children are 20 times more likely to be killed. In the last 30 years, inequality has rocketed in the US – many Americans now think the American Dream only applies to those with money to lobby politicians for friendly bill on Capitol Hill.

LONG SYNOPSIS

New York’s Park Avenue runs the length of Manhattan before crossing the river into the Bronx. The long stretch between Grand Central Terminal and 96th Street is home to some of the most expensive real estate in the world. One of the most exclusive of these addresses is 740 Park.

Built by James T Lee, Jacqueline Kennedy’s grandfather in 1929, 740 Park is home to ‘the 1% of the 1%’ and has, over the decades, harboured generations of ‘Masters of the Universe’. The building’s 31 apartments sell for thousands of dollars per square foot. “The World’s Richest Apartment Building” houses more billionaires than any other building in the United States.

“These guys just rule the world, you know? They are multibillionaires, the CEOs of the major corporations in the world”, states a former 740 Park Doorman “it’s not a lot of residents but they’re high-tempered and, you know, you have to have thick skin to work there. You’re going to be dealing with detestable people and you’re going to be dealing with billionaires”.

Ten minutes to the north, over the Harlem River, Park Avenue enters the South Bronx. Here, more than half the residents receive food stamps, unemployment has reached 19% and children are 20 times more likely to be killed than their neighbours to the south.

“There’s always been a gap between the wealthiest in our society and everyone else, but in the last 30 years something changed. That gap became an abyss.” says filmmaker Alex Gibney. “As of 2010, the 400 richest Americans controlled more wealth than the bottom half of the country. That’s 150 million people. The question is what are they going to do with all that money?”

Jacob Hacker, a political scientist at Yale, argues that all this wealth has been used to buy out the American Dream. “As more and more income goes to the very top, that changes the way our politics work; it changes the way our society looks. There’s been a reinforcing cycle. Those at the top have done well. They’ve invested in policies that are favourable to them, and they’ve done even better, and then they’ve churned a lot of that money back into politics.”

In the palatial apartments of 740 Park, the wealthy are visited by presidents and senators, who are promised millions of campaign dollars in exchange for lower taxes. Men like Steve Schwartzman from the Blackstone group, who raised $1.2m in 15 minutes for George W Bush at a home fundraiser, or David Koch, who has contributed an estimated $200m to the campaign funds of one third of the House of Representatives.

Residents of the Park Ave in Bronx can’t influence presidents and suffer cuts in public spending thanks to reduced tax revenue from the rich – even though they still have the vote, has the door to social mobility now closed on them?

Paul Piff, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley studying the psychology of wealth and the consequences of inequality likens social mobility in the US to a rigged game of Monopoly “The idea of the American dream is that every one’s got an equal opportunity. You’ve just gotta decide to play. But in fact, there are large groups of people that experience the game as unfair. The opportunity’s not there. All the rules have been decided. The property’s already been bought up and the money is already in the hands of the other players.”  But, it seems, even those who play the rigged game with one dice and little money in the bank still think it is possible to beat the odds.

Through the story of the two Park Avenues, Alex Gibney’s remarkable film puts forward an eloquent argument that the extreme wealth of a few has been used to impose their ideas on the rest of America.  As New Yorker writer Jane Mayer explains “They’ve managed to take the resentment of the middle class, which has been quite economically squeezed over the last couple decades, and turn their resentment against the people beneath them…rather than having it point upward to the people on the top of the one percent who are really walking away richer than ever.”

Parents in the Bronx would be happy for their children to have health, safety, playing space and an education but the opportunities are ever diminishing, whilst the children at the top of the social ladder are being prepared to inherit the earth, as the former 740 Park doorman notes “It seemed that kids between 12 and 15, they realized that they were billionaires. Up until that age, they would come in from soccer practice, you would have specific high-fives that you would give them. You’d be their buddy. But when they get older, the kids would suddenly come down to the lobby and they’d just be different people. You know, they’d walk past you and they had a different walk. They walked like their dads suddenly. Their parents must have sat them down and said you know, ’this is how your life is. You’re a billionaire and they’re your doormen and they’re your housekeepers and they’re your drivers and they’re not important, you know.’”

Park Avenue: Money, Power & The American Dream is inspired by the book 740 Park - The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building by Michael Gross.

Trending Today
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 16,055 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Before He Was Assassinated, MLK Jr. Was Advocating For An End To Income Inequality
10 min · 12,273 views today · We can honor MLK Jr. by pursuing the causes he was advocating for before he was killed.  ​​ Part 2: The Basic Income, A New Human Right (3 minutes) MLK's idea of a basic...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 7,804 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Watch How Europeans Carved Up African Land They Never Owned
56 min · 7,679 views today · Watch how Europeans gave away African land they never owned, then expressed anger when Africans resisted. The film is called Africa: A Voyage of Discovery, Episode 6: The...
The Corporation (2003)
145 min · 3,754 views today · The Corporation is today's dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future...
One "Piece of the Oppressor" That I Have Discovered Within Myself
Tim Hjersted · 3,098 views today · One "piece of the oppressor" that I have found in myself during my inner activist journeys is my use of shame as a method of engaging with the world's problems. Having learned...
#ReclaimMLK Seeks to Combat the Sanitizing of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy
Danielle C. Belton · 2,188 views today · Martin Luther King Jr. had more than “a dream,” but you might not notice that on Monday during observances for his birthday. Somewhere between his assassination and today...
What Martin Luther King Jr. Can Teach Us about Nonviolence
John Dear · 1,940 views today · I've been reflecting on the principles of nonviolence that Martin Luther King Jr. learned during the historic yearlong bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. After Rosa Parks refused...
Coping With Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the White House
N Ziehl · 1,557 views today · I want to talk a little about narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve unfortunately had a great deal of experience with it, and I’m feeling badly for those of you who are...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 1,152 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 972 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
The Comprehensive Activist Guide to Dismantling Neoliberalism
Drew Serres · 476 views today · “The creation of today’s market society was not the result of a sequence of spontaneous events but rather of state interference and violence.” – Naomi Klein in The Shock...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 436 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
22 Documentaries That Tell the Truth About How Government Really Works
Tim Hjersted · 424 views today · And 6 that show how people are responding.
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine · 349 views today · “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” —Arthur Young; 1771 Our popular economic wisdom says that...
Positive Thinking in a Dark Age: A Guide to Gracefully Losing Faith in a Collapsing Dominant Culture
Jim Tull · 323 views today · I recall a Buddhist parable involving a stick that appears from a distance to be a snake, causing fear to rise in the perceiver. As the perception shifts upon closer...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 310 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
This Woman Gets No Applause...Why? They Are Too Creeped Out...
7 min · 306 views today · Think you aren't being fooled by advertising tricks? Take a look at this so-called expert revealing food marketing's secret weapon. No amount of marketing makes factory farming...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 293 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Live Before You Die
6 min · 264 views today · Travelling the length of the country and back again with a pair of horses and gypsy caravan, Live Before You Die is the ultimate horse-drawn road movie, following a band of...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Film Screening: Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream