As wealthy investors and buyers drive up real estate values, the middle class is being squeezed further and the working poor are being shoved deeper into squalor — in places as disparate as Silicon Valley and New York City.
This week Bill points to the changing skyline of Manhattan as the physical embodiment of how money and power impact the lives and neighborhoods of every day people. Soaring towers being built at the south end of Central Park, climbing higher than ever with apartments selling from $30 million to $90 million, are beginning to block the light on the park below. Many of the apartments are being sold at those sky high prices to the international super rich, many of whom will only live in Manhattan part-time – if at all — and often pay little or no city income or property taxes, thanks to the political clout of real estate developers.
“The real estate industry here in New York City is like the oil industry in Texas,” affordable housing advocate Jaron Benjamin says, “They outspend everybody… They often have a much better relationship with elected officials than everyday New Yorkers do.” Meanwhile, fewer and fewer middle and working class people can afford to live in New York City. As Benjamin puts it, “Forget about the Statue of Liberty. Forget about Ellis Island. Forget about the idea of everybody being welcome here in New York City. This will be a city only for rich people.”
At the end of the show Bill says: “Tell us if you’ve seen some of these forces eroding the common ground where you live. Perhaps, like some of the people in our story, you’re making your own voice heard. Share these experiences at our website, BillMoyers.com.” Please use the comments section below to do so. http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-long-dark-shadows-plutocracy/
(in the comments section)_______________________________________________________
Sylvia Moritz • a month ago
""We are part of the remaining middle class who has been forced out of Manhattan. My husband and I lived in Manhattan for 15 years. We owned a small (600 sq. ft) apartment on the Upper West side.
We attempted to refinance after the 2008 crash--the rules changed on the overall ownership percentages in condos and we were prohibited from re-financing.
After adding in the condo fees, mortgages, and just plain living expenses--we decided to sell our apartment. It was purchased by a foreign investor for an exorbitant amount--just so that investor can get a foothold in the US.
We now live in the Bronx in an apartment that is twice the size of our Manhattan one and it is costing us 1/3 of what it cost to live in Manhattan. Manhattan is only for the uber-wealthy.
What we are also staring to notice is that access to the arts, museums and other cultural events are starting to become cost prohibitive.
Manhattan is becoming a gated community for the 1%""
(And another comment:)
""whowadat • a month ago
Hello, long time fan of PBS and Bill Moyers. I have seen the rise of "Plutocracy" since 1975 when my parents owned a Mom n Pop resort at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Right next to trailer parks lived in by people who worked at "service" jobs catering to the tourists, were literal mansions frequented by their owners maybe twice a year. I watched my Dad take on a "milkman" job during the lean 6 months out of the year when there was no tourism to speak of for 2.65 hour. I watched a pimple faced 16 year old kid fill up Daddy's "cruiser" boat dockside to the tune of 1200.00 dollars in gas.....that was 4 months rent....which the kid laughed he would burn up in one weekend.
Today, some 40 years later, there are no Mom n Pop's of any sort in the area. Condominiums by the thousands are frequented by the half of the country making considerably more than the 50K "median" household income. (a misnomer when you considered thats less than 30K take home after taxes and medical benefits) There are no more "cruisers" but rather "Cigarette" boats capable of outrageous speeds making the 15' fishing boat I used to get around in completely unsafe. I can't even begin to comment about the effects of growing up in an area where the rich live amongst the poor rather than suburban or urban areas where "neighborhoods" serve such an important role both economically, socially, and and as a sense of community rather than the narcissistic attitudes that money and the internet has contrived.
I thought the "snowball" had finally come to a breaking point in 2008~2010 during the housing "depression" but to watch our Federal government bail out Wall Street with a 2 page 700 billion dollar bill signed overnight with no public input....confirmed to me my darkest concern....the wealthy make the rules and they're slanted towards their benefit. The needs of the individual outweigh the needs of the community. So sad.....I see no outcome other than the collapse of America....maybe not the country but definitely the ideal"".
Some people say inequality doesn’t matter. They are wrong. All we have to do to see its effects is to realize that all across America millions of people of ordinary means can’t afford decent housing.