Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream Video Essay
Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream tells the story of New York’s Park Avenue, a street that houses the city’s richest neighborhood, as well as the South Bronx, a well- known poor area of the Big Apple. Through this vast contrast in wealth, the documentary goes on to uncover the influence that some of Park Avenue’s richest inhabitants exert over the American population, particularly through their participation in the nation’s politics, achieved through extensive lobbying and influencing various politicians, a feat that could not be possible without the incredible amounts of cash they possess. Now, more than ever, money talks in the United States, and it is not a pretty thing to look at.
The film’s dissection of Park Avenue’s impact on American culture is mainly focused on one building located at 740 Park Avenue, home to some of the wealthiest and most influential names in recent economic and political history in the United States, most notably billionaires David H. Koch, vice president of Koch Industries, former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain and Stephen A. Schwarzman, now leader of The Blackstone Group, a global private equity firm.
The documentary begins by showcasing the poverty experienced by the residents of Park Avenue in the Bronx, explaining the awful situation in which the new generation of poor New Yorkers find themselves in, lacking opportunities to get better education and create income, a clear disadvantage that goes against the traditional views of the American Dream, that dictates all US citizens have a chance of moving up the social ladder with hard work and clear goals set. This disadvantage is, according to the film, expanded by those in positions of power such as the residents of 740 Park Avenue, who rig the rules of the money game to their advantage, without any concern for those with fewer privileges.
Money talks in American society, turning billionaires into extremely powerful individuals who can use their influence to shape the way politics are handled to their own benefit. This excess of power is the real reason the film exists, as it describes the paths of 740 Park Avenue’s residents as they manipulate the society around them in all sorts of ways in order to turn a profit.
Before diving into more detail about how these rich individuals make use of their extreme wealth to seek an advantage, the documentary explains a very important fact, vital to understanding the relation between owning large sums of cash and having a say in national politics. A remarkable amount of time is spent by politicians on the task of raising money for their projects, to the point where they are almost begging for it at certain points. For this reason, they reach out to those with massive amounts of money for help, some of which happen to live at 740 Park Avenue. Former president George W. Bush once visited the building in order to ask Stephen Schwarzman for help, raising over a …