May 18. 2015
After watching the PBS film ” Park Avenue – Money Power and the American Dream”….and doing a lot of soul searching, I’ve decided to stand next to Senator Bernie Sanders, Democrat Vermont, and declare myself a Democratic- Socialist. I’ve decided not to accept tarnished Democratic merchandise or any of the Republicans who beat their breasts espousing American middle class values but accept billionaire money with the other hand…in exchange for further rigging the game against you and me..
I firmly believe anyone who is concerned about the rapid disappearance of the American middle class should view ” Park Avenue “. Its available on Netflix. Its a shocker, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
“Park Avenue” focuses on one building, 740 Park Avenue , which houses more billionaires than any building in the United States. There are only 31 apartments, the largest of which has 37 rooms and 20,000 square feet. Some of the billionaires who reside there include David Koch, the richest resident of New York City, Steven Schwarzman, formerly of Lehman Brothers, now of The Blackstone Group (he has the largest apartment) Ezra Merkin, known as one of Bernie Madoffs ” feeders “, and John Thain who presided over the handoff of Merill Lynch to Bank of America while rewarding the failure of his executives with large bonuses which came from you and me via low interest government bail out loans.
Park Avenue’s supporting cast includes Wall Street’s Senator, Charles Schumer, non-resident of the building , who poses as a Democrat liberal while feverishly protecting federal tax provisions which make certain Steven Schwarzman and his billionaire associates are taxed at a lower rate than the firemen who climbed the stairs of the World Trade Center…….,
…..Representative Paul Ryan, Republican, Wisconsin who is said to take more money from David Koch than any member of Congress, ostensibly to foster the American middle class dream by espousing the rugged individual ideals of Ayn Rand, ” Atlas Shrugged ” , but in reality, does the the bidding of David Koch who finances his ambitions. And lets not forget Governor Scott Walker, Republican, Wisconsin who humorously falls for a phone scam where the caller pretends to be David Koch and inveigles Walker into a discussion of tactics to be used to destroy the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin Unions.
The central theme of ” Park Avenue ” is to unmask how the right wing of the billionaire class ( no, not Warren Buffett, not Bill Gates ) has used its money to get Congress to rig the rules in their favor and tilt the playing field against middle class Americans… not to mention the disadvantaged!
Today 400 families control more wealth than the 150 million American taxpayers who account for the bottom half of our national income structure.
In 1965 CEO pay was roughly 21 times that of the hourly worker. Today that multiple has expanded to 231 times the pay of the average hourly worker.
In 1980 getting an education was 5oo times less expensive than it is today.
The chasm between the super rich and middle income / wage earning America has widened into the Grand Canyon.
How did this happen ? Look no further than ” trickle down ” economics. Remember when Newt Gingrich claimed that by giving the wealthy Americans huge tax breaks including reducing the capital gains rate, the tax windfall of the rich would trickle down to the middle class and beyond ? There was a trickle alright, but its direction turned out NOT to be in the direction of middle income America….it flowed in an other direction, toward Congress. That the super rich wanted something in return for the trickle was proven by an exponential expansion of lobbyist activity and more money given to support the re-election efforts of compliant congressmen. What did the billionaires want. As Steven Schwarzman characterized his visit from Mitt Romney….. What I wanted from him is for me to know. Lets just say he listened and I am not shy !
The billionaires want less government interference, except for when their interests collide with regulations enacted for the common good such as anti pollution measures. They want exemptions for any activity that will further enrich them, even at the expense of what is good for America. Since they don’t really need more money they spend their ” trickle ” by doubling down on their investments in members of Congress.
Isn’t it ironic that on the same weekend you have a derailment on the AMTRAK northeast railroad corridor owing to government money not available to fund infrastructure improvement…..Then, just a day later, you have a logjam of helicopters circling above the Hamptons waiting to land !! Gatsby would have really appreciated this scene.
How was it that the government was able to help the big five ” too big to fail ” financial institutions who were actually gambling with shareholder money, but had no money to help with the sunami of foreclosures which hit hardworking everyday people who had lost their jobs . Bank lobbyists actually wrote the legislative amendment that will allow the big five to resume gambling with the middle class absorbing all the risk. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are in the forefront of those in Congress still attempting to block this Wall Street inspired tampering.
Do you actually suppose Wall Street would allow Congress to exempt IRA withdrawals from current penalties, if such withdrawals were used to pay off student loans or be used as a down payment on a non-financial asset such as a house ? Not a chance!
The billionaires espouse traditional middle class values and cite the Tea Party as a spontaneous middle class expression of the desire to return to American values. According to ” Park Avenue” there was nothing spontaneous about the Tea Party movement. Its a planned ploy to point the resentment of the middle class downward instead of upward at the billionaire class.
What is especially frightening about ” trickle down ” is that it has financed the ultra rich takeover of Congress and funded the efforts of compliant congressman to remain in office. Now, how do we effect REFORM if Congress refuses to act in the common good and also refuses to go home ?. Our founding fathers didn’t want Congress to be a career. Today congressmen are the government equivalent of CEOs who hijack corporations by surrounding themselves with a compliant manager class and board members to do their personal bidding. When you are dealing with this type of entrenched situation your vote is worth the same as your proxy….nothing ! You can sell your shares or leave the USA. …or both….take it or leave it……. Nice!…
Personally, I don’t know how to separate the tentacles of the Wall Street / Corporate billionaire class from our government. As a layman, I see this as a growing cancer and bordering on in-operable.
I look at Bernie Sanders and wonder whether he has Reagan genes. As a socialist, he doesn’t want much….just free medicine for everyone to replace our broken system, as in Sweden, and a free technical or liberal college education for everyone so that the USA can compete in an ever competitive world without our kids going broke choking on loans.. . He wants to abolish corporate and fat cat political contributions and limit lobbyist activity. Unlike traditional socialists, he doesn’t espouse nationalizing the railroads, the newspapers , private property, or private business. He is transparent. He does not accept political action group contributions only contributions from individuals. His candidacy deserves to be investigated by anyone concerned enough to want REFORM. I believe he is absolutely clean and is his own man. I believe he is a patriot and, as a New Yorker , I congratulate Vermont on its choice for the Senate.
I’d rather waste my vote on him as a protest for REFORM than be swept along with all the organized money wrapped in red, white and blue but earmarked for hidden agendas
Richard Maurice Gore