MetroFocus Special Edition: Wealth and Income in New York City

November 13, 2012 12:00 AMvideo

Host Rafael Pi Roman discusses wealth, income and opportunity with economist and author Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute and Jeff Madrick, senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and a former economics columnist for The New York Times. Historian Kenneth Jackson, editor of “The Encyclopedia of New York,” adds perspective on the city’s history of wealth and income disparity.

This MetroFocus special follows the PBS Independent Lens premiere of Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream,” a film by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, on THIRTEEN at 10 p.m.

Using Park Avenue as a metaphor of the wealth divide in America, the documentary alleges that wealthy Americans have made it increasingly difficult for others to gain economic ground. The film criticizes a number of individuals, including businessman and philanthropist David Koch and New York State Senator Charles E. Schumer, the latter for his position on carried interest. Carried interest allows hedge fund managers and investment firm executives to pay lower capital gains tax rates on their wages, rather than the normal income tax rates.

Furchtgott-Roth, Madrick and Jackson will share their responses to the documentary and discuss the issue of the wealth and income divide in New York City.

In response to the film, a spokesman for Senator Charles E. Schumer, Brian Fallon, said in a written statement,

“This film gets Senator Schumer’s position on carried interest all wrong. While the Senator would prefer to eliminate the carried interest loophole across all industries–a view shared by President Obama–Schumer has said since 2007 that he would support any legislation that ended the loophole, even if it only applied to the finance industry. In the Senate, he has voted to close the loophole not once, but twice. Both The New York Times and Washington Post have corroborated this.”

Melissa Cohlmia, director, Corporate Communication, Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, also issued a written statement in response to Gibney’s portrayal of David Koch:

“This film is disappointing and divisive. Rather than advance ideas to address the root causes of poverty, it simplistically blames the wealthy while ignoring the billions of dollars in charitable support given by those with financial means. To continue to attack job creators and businesses that work to raise the standard of living for all Americans will only serve to impoverish our nation.

The success of Koch Industries with its 50,000 U.S. employees enables David Koch’s philanthropy. In spite of these attacks, he will continue to support causes that aim to eradicate cancer, advance a free society, and create a better quality of life for all.”

  • Peter Murray

    The film “Park Ave, Money, Power and the American Dream” was terrific but the discussion which followed added little, dominated as it was by the extremist right wing views and faux facts and dismal philosophy of panelist Diana Fruchtgott-Roth. Mz Fruchtgott-Roth happily approves that large numbers of people in our society suffer economic deprivation as long as some of them can, through mobility, rise to a more prosperous level. According to her thinking, the rise of the lucky few to join the top rungs of society is made meaningful precisely because so many remain in conditions of poverty. She obviously believes economic success would be of less value if everyone achieved it. The moderator, Rafael Pi Roman seemed in awe at her presentation and the other panelist Jeff Madrick was too much of a gentleman and too polite to call her on the ugliness of her ideas and didn’t get much of a chance to express his own ideas as he had to battle her frequent snide interruptions. Besides her contempt for the poor and her disregard for the facts Ms. Fruchtgott-Roth champions private schools and public vouchers to pay for them as the solution to the question of economic disparity. I say “question” rather than “problem” of economic disparity because for Mz Fruchtgott-Roth economic dispartiy not a problem but a fine thing that allows for the creation of Horatio Algers who rise above the motley crew and inspire us to appreciate the magnificence of our “free market” though we ourselves may remain at the bottom to highlight Mr. Alger’s achivement. In other words in order for the upper class to be truly resplendent the lower class in deprivation. The frequency which Mz. Fruchgott-Roth brought in her views asserting that private schools are better than public schools( one of her faux facts) and that parents should be given vouchers to send their children to any school they want,in a discussion that was about economic inequality made it seem that she has axe to grind on behalf of the for profit educational industry and was using the discussion to get in a few plugs for it. Mz Fruchgott- Roth is excessively pleased with her own views, smiling inappropriately as if she had just answered the question that won the prize on a quiz show. Her presentation and her manner can best be described as unpleasant. In more than fifty years of watching panel discussions I do not think I have ever seen one with this level of unpleasantness projected by one of the panelists. It was painful to watch.

    • Alexis

      I couldn’t agree more! It was excruciating to listen to and watch Ms. Fruchgott-Goth with her strangely inappropriate smiles and hovering hands.

  • Sick of you elite tools

    Diana Fruchtgott-Roth was a vile in that “review”.

    Really Diana, could you be any more obnoxious, annoying, idiotic, sickening, arrogant, haughty? I could go on and on but that evil, vile woman isn’t worth the effort.

    • Sick of you elite tools

      Meant vile. Not a vile. But really makes no difference.

  • StanChaz

    NO NO NO! The RICH ….absolutely…. need MORE tax cuts!

    There eally seems to be some confusion here, ….a lack of clarity.

    Perhaps I need to explain “TRICKLE-DOWN ECONOMICS”.

    Basically , there are two parts to this ancient , time-tested theory.

    I’m sorry ..did I call this fact of life, this eternal truth..a MERE “theory”?

    My mistake. It is much MORE than a theory. It’s simply …..the way

    things are,…the way things always will be, …the way things MUST be!

    Ah, Economics is beautiful, isn’t it?

    Well, to get on: The FIRST part of tickle-down economics is the “TRICK”-le part.

    If we are going to make any progress, you must realize, you must understand,

    that this IS all a trick. An elaborate trick , yes, but still a trick.

    A trick …where the super-rich are the “trick-sters”, and you, my poor friends,

    you are the “trick-ees”. Do I make myself clear? Good, then we’ll go on to the second part.

    The SECOND part, dear students of the world, is the crucial “Trickle-DOWN” phase.

    That, my friends, simply means that the super-rich get to URINATE all over the rest of us

    …and then laugh …all the way to their off-shore banks and tax-shelters.

    In other words, my gullible little friends, the bottom line is this:

    the ONLY acceptable looters in life are the super-rich.

    Anybody else …. is subject to arrest, or worse.

    Got that? Good, you’ll work out just fine.

  • Thoughts2

    Mr. Roman certainly was not an impartial moderator. At least he revealed that Mr. Koch is on his board of directors – it showed.

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