Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Night Movie-- Meet The 1%: The Story Of America's Plutocracy


Jamie Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune made a documentary in 2006... and it's really engaging and well-done. The first of eight YouTubes of it is above and that one will allow you to find the other seven. These people Jamie talks with don't want to sound crass but they sure like that whole trickle-down theory they get their bought-and-paid-for shills like Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor to regurgitate for them.

It's worth watching this film, especially in light of the beginnings of an uprising against the dominance 1% that we're seeing today at the heart of the OccupyWallStreet movement. After he first did the film, the Wall Street Journal called Jamie The Rich Man's Michael Moore.
Brian McNally, the Johnson family's financial adviser, chastises Jamie on camera for his behavior.

"You're behaving like a little arrogant trustafarian," he tells him.

Milton Friedman, the famed economist, was equally impatient with Mr. Johnson's questioning. During his on-air interview-- among Mr. Friedman's last before he died-- he accuses Mr. Johnson of advocating socialism and abruptly ends their talk.

Mr. Johnson insists he's not opposed to wealth-- including his own. Wealth, he says, has given him a great education, freedom, chances to travel and, best of all, the resources to do films about wealth. He says that while his documentaries are profitable, they wouldn't pay for his lifestyle.

Yet with The One Percent, Mr. Johnson wanted to show how the rich have gone too far. Through interviews with economists, policy experts and environmentalists, Mr. Johnson argues that today's wealthy have become an increasingly isolated elite. He says rather than using their wealth for good, they have used it to restructure the economy, lower their taxes, cut social programs for the middle and lower classes, and amass ever more wealth.

Mr. Johnson says finding willing subjects for The One Percent was difficult, and not just because of his reputation. He sent out more than 100 letters to wealthy people asking for interviews and most said no or failed to reply. Even George Soros, the billionaire financier who often argues against inequality, refused.

"We have an aristocracy in this country that has convinced everybody else that they don't exist," Mr. Johnson says.

Rejections by his fellow elites won't be a problem for his next film, however. Says Mr. Johnson: "My next projects are fictional."

When you watch the part about Milton Friedman, remember how the reactionary mind defines "freedom." It's very proprietary and it's very much about their freedom, not our freedom, which could only impinge on theirs. And, yeah, the Steve Forbes part about the talent for greed, selfishness, nepotism and unrestrained acquisition is a perfect explanation of that kind of freedom; it's "a moral system." Did you read A Take Of Two Cities? Jamie's documentary is like an update-- you tear down all the basketball courts (and the school) and build a giant police station. Just remember... "you can't make an omelette without breaking an egg"-- and "the public will get what the public wants." Oh... and when you get to the part about Alfie and Pepe Fanjul, please keep in mind that these fellas have helped finance the political career of Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

And remember this too: the 1% believe-- or say they believe-- that God made them rich, just the way monarchs pushed all that claptrap about divine right. And taxes on inheritance, according to the 1%, are criminal and unethical. Right?

And this is Jamie. He did another really cool movie, Born Rich, which I also enjoyed and will try to show here at DWT Monday night. If you watched this one all the way through you surely saw Milton Friedman accuse Jamie of being a socialist, ripping off his mic and haughtily ending the interview, one of the last he granted before dying. David Korten doesn't name him specifically in this paragraph from Agenda For A New Economy but who else could he have meant?
[H]uman future is now in question and the cause can be traced, in part, to economic theories that serve the narrow interests of a few and result in devastating consequences for all.

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