The One Percent SHANNON lEAK

As a young boy growing up in a lower economically stable family and community in a small town in southeastern North Carolina then another in southeastern Georgia, I would often be intrigued with the narrative and perplexities of how very wealthy people lived. Even watching the cartoon “Duck Tales” as a kid, curiosity would fester the imagination of the intimate lifestyle of this filthy rich animated family of ducks as it compared the world of real life wealthy families that I could only imagine. I consider myself a personal of morally high character that has lived in a community where financial status has caused some social disparity but I would try to imagine how many overly wealthy communities there were in the world, how much money did you have to have to be a part of these communities and what concern or level of compassion do these communities have for the community I grew up in. How do they view the economic disparity in our country?

In “The One Percent” Jamie Johnson, Great Grandson of the founder of Johnson & Johnson pharmaceuticals, attempts to shed as much light on the economic or financial disparity between a little over the top one percent Americans and the rest of the American population. He uses his family influences to interview members of this wealthy community, some affiliated with the wealthy or those on the other end of the wealth spectrum to gain perspective on the array of opinions of the financial gap. In this piece written by Jamie Johnson and produced with Nick Kurzon, Johnson’s rhetorical intent is evident from the beginning of the film as he starts by quietly sneaking into a country club-like establishment where is father is among others associated as wealthy playing crochet as he encroaches on the “secrets” of this society.

Through many of the interviews conducted by Johnson, he does a great job to influence the audience to view the way these members of the super wealth community think as if financial status has put them above everything and everybody while in his interview with Roy O. Martin, President of a Louisiana-based Lumber company, who went as far as to even referencing “GOD” chose those privileged to have wealth almost implying as part of the 99 percent were not destined for wealth. Is it fair that such a minute percentage of citizens in the United States control such a tremendous amount of the wealth in America? As mentioned in “The One Percent”, it is referenced that the one percent brings in roughly $45 million dollars annually while the average American roughly around $35 Thousand dollars. That disparity in wealth is comical. I do not agree with such disparity in wealth, but I do wonder with the drastic spike in income of the 99 percent of American citizen will it change how that “one percent” view those that have closed the gap, or not. As recently as 2015 Kasia Kovacs reported on RawStory.com that the median household income was approximately $56,000 which begs the question what would it take to close the gap in economic inequality. (C)

In “The One Percent”, Johnson also exposes how those once inclusive in this wealthy but who are seemingly similar in thinking to himself like Warren Buffet’s adopted granddaughter Nicole and Great-Grandson of Oscar Meyer, Chuck Collins (Wikipedia) how they are exiled from the family or the wealthy society for not following suit under the entitlement of the wealthy. I cannot imagine being cut off from my family for having my own personal beliefs and values instead of looking down my nose at those that did not establish or inherit wealth. Johnson returns to conversations with his father including the family financial advisor Brian McNally who evidently disapproves with the documentary and continuously expresses his discontent. I wonder if the financial advisor is downplaying the intent of the film to avoid those outside of this community getting an intimate look at how the wealthy intend to keep themselves separated financially from the masses. According to an article on MSN.com titled “Republican health bill would widen America's big wealth gap” Stephen Ohlemacher mentions how “over the past quarter century, only one group has seen significant increases in income”- The One Percent. (B)

“The One Percent” argues that the wealthy and those affiliated wants to be separated from the other 99% of citizens as evident in conversations with those excluded from this community of wealth have much more humbled tone. Their motives are not received as greedy in intent as those who are wealthy want to expand on their hold on the economic hierarchy. Johnson’s mother, who does not come from wealth, takes a different connotation when she is not around his father even describing when they got married. In his interview with Karl Muth, an investment banking heir, Muth speaks openly on his views to easily “eradicate” the poor from society to the “far reaches of the universe” to make society better. Even Milton Freedman, a world renown Economist and 1976 Noble Prize winner, argues that keeping the one percent at such a wealth disparity makes for a healthy economy. He is heard glowing “would it be better (income of non-wealthy) if it had not risen at all” when Johnson inquired his thoughts on the economic inequality.

A. Wikipedia – The One Percent - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_One_Percent_(film) - March 22, 2017 (last motified)

B. RawStory – Wealth gap growing in America - http://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/wealth-gap-growing-in-america/ - Kasia Kovacs, March 22, 2017

C. Republican health bill would widen America's big wealth gap - https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/republican-health-bill-would-widen-americas-big-wealth-gap/ar-BByCgGl - Stephen Ohlemacher

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Shannon Leak
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