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This documentary will not make more friends out of right-wingers or Republicans (ex: Paul Ryan). It's a captivating documentary but way too short as it's still only one piece of the whole puzzle. This movie states what the problems are but cannot present solutions and we're left to our own devices.
As an excellent complement to this documentary, watch the PBS documentary "Big Sky, Big Money". You'll discover how much unaccountable shadow money can influence & subvert American politics!
If you're serious about knowing more, documentaries/movies such as "Inside Job", "The Shock Doctrine", "The Revolution will not be televised", "The Take", "Zeitgeist Moving forward" will help further your understanding of the social/financial changes that needs to take place if we're to have a sustainable future or ANY future at all...
Forget about your political ideology for a moment and watch this movie. Nobody puts words in the mouths of people like Jack Abramoff or Michele Bachamann. They're saying what's on their minds. If you've come to believe that something about the promise of America has gone wrong, just watch this movie with an open mind. You'll come away wondering what's more important to the elite: making more money for themselves, or making sure nobody else makes any.
The editing is first rate, and the pace is good. The story comes through loud and clear without having to be pushed in your face. Watch this movie.
I love that Jack Abramoff appears here and speaks candidly. I do not care whether he feels he was right or wrong, but that he is able to come forward and explain how the game is played really adds to our understanding.
I further love the film's turn towards David Koch and from there towards the state of Wisconsin (where I have lived over 30 years). It was great to see familiar faces like Mahlon Mitchell and Mark Pocan, and hear the connection between Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan.
We even got to see real folks in Waukesha and hear more of the Scott Walker prank phone call. From the start it looked like we would be focusing on the Park Avenue of Manhattan versus the Park Avenue of the Bronx. I am glad it went beyond that. Will other non-Dairy State viewers enjoy it as much? I cannot say.
I've wondered many times: Why is our world set up like it is? What does it mean to be a human being? Where's the spiritual/soul growth in this economic cut-throat kind of game? This documentary gives you a glimpse of the kind of tactics/warfare certain political figures will pull to keep this economic war going. I wish this documentary was longer and went into further psychological realms and that's kind of what sparks you to do independent research afterward. It's a really great starter and introduction to life/economic/education problems in America.
This war on happiness/our way of life is corrupted by relentless inequality/unjust players and financial discrimination and it will never end until the embers of greed have cooled...
Remember this, "After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box."
It very plainly explains how the top 1% of the top 1% (and even the top 10% too) of the wealthy in this country wield true power through their money. I don't believe it's a bad thing to be wealthy or even über- wealthy; it is how they use that money that is offending to me.
If the top 400 wealthiest people in our country would donate even 2% of their annual net worth (not salaries or bonuses) at Thanksgiving each year, this money (probably into the billions range) would go a long way to reduce hunger in America and they could create many endowed scholarships at many universities or to local Community Colleges to help the middle and lower classes to become empowered to earn their way up.
Luckily, we do have a good number of very civic minded billionaires in our country, beginning with Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, who created the "The Giving Pledge" (givingpledge.org) and I would estimate that over one-half who have signed the pledge are Americans. This philanthropic endeavor is estimated, as of July 2010, to worth in excess of $125 BILLION dollars. Today, it must exceed @00 BILLION.
On a personal note, the list also includes a very special lady, Lynn Schusterman, who I've met and worked for her now deceased husband, Charles Schusterman, at his primary business, oil and gas production. Their daughter Stacey has been the CEO since shortly before her father passed. This family has done so much for our state, Oklahoma, by contributing to the University of Oklahoma (OU). As a matter of fact my hometown, Tulsa, would probably never have an OU campus, if not for Lynn and their family Schusterman Foundation. She's very active in family and children's services and a slew of other organizations that badly need their assistance. Charles, Lynn and Stacy, who I all met and spoke to on numerous occasions, were all very approachable and very caring about his employees. Much like Warren Buffett, Charles was down to earth and a hard worker. I would be remiss if I did not mention the hundreds of millions of dollars of giving and active management of those resources by T. Boone Pickens, to our other state run university, Oklahoma State. He's given to OU and many other organizations here. We are very lucky to have these two fine families call our state, home.
I'm not believer in conspiracy theories like "A One World Nation", "The Bilderberg's", "Trilateral Commission", Yale's "Skull & Bones", the Freemason's and the list could on and on. The fact is that once you acquire a vast amount of wealth, through any means, you get a seat at the table with the political power broker's. Especially, since SCOTUS gave corporations the right to been seen and treated as an individual person that then allowed them to make almost unlimited campaign contributions stemming from the "Citizen's United" case.
Politician's need money like humans need air. That is an inextricable fact. Also, this documentary states unequivocally that it's the lobbyists who actually write the legislation that comes to floor of either house of Congress with little or few modifications. I wasn't overly surprised but surprised and concerned enough to ask this one question:
WHO IS ACTUALLY RUNNING OUR COUNTRY?
Watch "Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream (2012)" and then, decide for yourself.
Quite a few interesting facts presented in a short and very watchable program. Harder on Republicans than Democrats, but both look bad, and the bias is easily justified by reality. I knew the Koch brothers contributed a lot of money to a lot of extreme right- wing organizations with the intent of protecting their wealth, but until this documentary, I didn't realize how truly mind-boggling their interference in the political process was, and I am pretty well-read and educated on these matters.
This documentary left me feeling very ambivalent, because I have made good money on investments, but at the same time it is pretty apparent that America's economic system is fundamentally unfair. (Of course, I knew that before this documentary, because I pay very close attention to the financial world for my own personal purposes.) I experience some cognitive dissonance after watching shows like this--the current system is pretty good for me, but is almost certainly not "just" in any sense of the word.
Truth be told, it leaves me in no rush wanting any changes for purely selfish reasons, as bad as that sounds. That is, no doubt, the problem with ever truly overhauling the American economic system, taxes or otherwise. The people who are profiting vastly more than I am, also have vastly more political power than I do, and are vastly less inclined than I am to do anything against their self- interest, as this brief documentary well points out.
It seems that the only reviewers who didn't like this documentary just hated it. This says a lot more about them than it does about the documentary, which included a lot of plain economic facts. How can you disagree with facts? It's hard not to be shocked by some of the data presented here. I actually find it ironic that a lot of Republicans argue that America has become a communist country when the gap between the rich and the poor has never been bigger, and that lobbies sponsored by corporations draft every bill in this country. It is depressing to think that some people would be so gullible.
Taxes for the rich have never been lower either. Many lower and middle class Americans get manipulated into rooting for the 1 % thinking that it will benefit them in the long run. Fact is, thanks to the Bush tax cuts, the rich has never paid as little tax. The argument was that this would create millions of jobs. All it really did was increasing our deficit by several trillions.
Even though it won't gel with everyone, this documentary is a must-see.
Eventually the director focuses his attention to these billionaires and the United States government. He brings up points that tie the interests of these billionaires to the way in which the government is currently corruptly run. He uses the classic "School House Rock" cartoon "I'm Just a Bill" to show that maybe in 1975 (when the cartoon came out) the S.H.R. interpretation may had been factual and educational in teaching kids how the system works. Today however, the reality up on Capitol Hill bares no resemblance to the cartoon. Today, bills rarely make it to the house to be voted on.
Gibney goes on to make strong ties between Ann Rand's ideologies of capitalism in her book Atlas Shrugged with the underlying beliefs of certain CEO billionaires like the Koch brothers and Republican Senator Paul Ryan. Gibney is here stating that the Republican Party and the Democratic Party members have all been bought. They no longer have the interests of the voters, but they have the interests of the lobbyists who give them money for their campaigns.
Gibney goes on and on giving examples of how corrupt the government system is today, and says that billionaires including the ones who live in 740 Park Avenue are constantly playing the game of capitalism. They know that in order for them to become richer, others have to become poorer. This is why they want to have close ties in Washington in order to get the bills they want passed.
Although the film succeeds in lifting any veil that was hiding the ugly truths about our government system, it does not offer any solutions. Sure it gives us statistics and pie charts letting us know just how poor the majority of American citizens have become, while the 1% has only gotten richer. It ties this subject back into the beginning of the film where at one end of Park Avenue lives people in the 1%, while at the other side of Park Avenue in the South Bronx lives people in poverty struggling to give their kids shelter and an education.
At some point in the film I was waiting for some logical solution scenarios to pop up. Gibney does a great job at making me shocked and angry at how the country's government no longer has the interests of the majority of its citizens in mind, but that is all I felt after it was over, angry. I felt angry and helpless. Maybe this film was produced by the 1% to scare us and put us down. Gibney really missed the marked on the ending of this film. It was surprising to see how stingy billionaires in 740 Park Avenue to their doormen, as one who was interviewed in the film said for Christmas he only received a $50 check from David Koch.
What about the Park Avenue residents in the South Bronx? Their identities weren't given to us like the billionaires at 740 Park. They were mentioned very briefly and then forgotten until the last few minutes of the film. Gibney should have and could have interviewed a sociologist, professor of economics or urban planner in order to get their thoughts on how to improve the inequality of the blighted areas like the South Bronx. There is no need to only give the audience the disastrous details of America's economy without also mentioning the theories and plans being devised in order to rebuild and fix the enormous inequality gap.
It makes me wonder if Gibney really believes in change for the better, or if his priority all along was just to scare his audience into a nihilist persona. If I had to rate this film on a scale of 1 to 5, I would give it a 2.5. It is not boring, and it will keep you watching, but it will leave you sorely disappointed.
Further though, the poverty pimping respondents featured in the film suffer from denial. The dumbing down of America is very real and is a pervasive snowball. I've been dead-ass broke 2 times in my adult life and I strived myself out of the hole, unassisted. I smirk with amazement that the fricken bell-boy complained about a $50 Christmas gift from someone (David Koch) who was not obligated to to give anything. Yet he hides his face and voice and pines that he somehow deserves more? If he could only see that Mr. Koch is doing him a favor. The kind of entitlement propagated here and throughout 'progressive' America is shameful. I have no sympathy or compassion for the "experts" featured in this hack piece nor especially for the bell- hop. But if you rated this film above a 6, my heart bleeds for you. You have all my compassion.
PS: One reviewer who loved this film wrote they were "surprised it wasn't nominated for an Oscar". Ironically, so am I.
However, if you are a Democrat not open for other perspectives than your own, this fictional movie probably will fit you well. Pop some popcorn, because after watching it you're feeling good, still convinced that every problem on earth is the rich people's responsibility