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This edition: The Long, Dark Shadows of Plutocracy

Episode Details

Original tape date: November 28, 2014.

First aired: December 8, 2014.

Inequality is a deep and divisive reality. Across our country, millions of people of ordinary means can’t afford decent housing.  The middle class is being squeezed out as the wealthy drive up real estate values and the working poor are shoved farther into squalor.
 
In “Dark Shadows,” a special Moyers & Company essay, Bill Moyers tells how a portion of the famous skyline of Manhattan, towering above the south end of Central Park, is becoming a symbol of how wealth and power get their way without regard for the impact on the lives and neighborhoods of everyday people.
 
Exclusive skyscrapers, climbing higher than ever before, are blocking the light, throwing enormous swathes of the park into darkness.  What’s more, the apartments are being sold at sky high prices in the multimillions to the international superrich, many of whom will only live in them 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. “The internationalization of New York once meant something actually kind of exotic and exciting and enhanced our diversity,” Vanity Fair architecture critic Paul Goldberger notes. “Today, internationalization… seems to symbolize not diversity but a kind of exclusivity.” And Jaron Benjamin declares, “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.” 

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