740 Park Avenue
Recently, I viewed a documentary directed by Alex Gibney. I was interested for two reasons: First – I worked with Alex Gibney’s father, Frank Gibney, when he was publisher of Hugh Hefner’s SHOW BUSINESS ILLUSTRATED and Huntington Hartford’s SHOW MAGAZINE; secondly, I was very interested in the subject matter of his documentary, “Park Avenue, Money, Power and the American Dream”. If you haven’t seen it yet, I hope you find the time to view it, too. I found it on Netflix.
In the documentary, the address, 740 Park Avenue in New York City, is given. In this building the richest people in America, if not the world reside. They are not millionaires but rather billionaires. Gibney’s documentary speaks about two Park Avenues – the Park Avenue in Manhattan and the Park Avenue once you cross the bridge over the Harlem River into the South Bronx. On this other Park Avenue, in the South Bronx, great poverty exists contrasted with the affluence and the opulence of the other Park Avenue in Manhattan. Unfortunately, for America, many of the inhabitants of 740 Park Avenue and probably similar residences, too, are not content just to acquire tremendously expensive possessions, but according to Mr. Gibney’s documentary, have the clout to hire Washington, DC lobbyists for their pet political objectives. These lobbyists write the bills they pass on to Congress. Some of these bills are aimed at undermining the social safeguards that the majority of American citizens depend upon: social security; medicare, etc. These are safeguards that should never be cut to help balance the U.S. budget.
We live at a time when America’s middle-class has been constantly eroding. Many manufacturing jobs have left the United States because of corporate greed. Families are being destroyed because of this and the American Dream has been visibly damaged. We live in a democracy where certainly everyone is entitled to an opinion – even the richer than rich. But in an ideal world, there should be more safeguards against being able to play the game with “loaded dice”, i.e., using their affluence to try and push through Congressional bills or setting up organizations to influence the outcome of elections. If unchecked, this type of conduct can obviously undermine a democratic form of government.