The One Percent

2006 Home >> Society 7.60K views 7 comments


The One Percent is a 2006 documentary about the growing wealth gap between America's wealthy elite and the citizenry on the whole. It was created by Jamie Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, and produced by Jamie Johnson and Nick Kurzon. The film's title refers to the top one percent of Americans in terms of wealth, who controlled 38% of the nation's wealth in 2001. This 80-minute documentary focuses on the growing "wealth gap" in America, as seen through the eyes of filmmaker Jamie Johnson, a 27-year-old heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune. Johnson, who cut his film teeth at NYU and made the Emmy-nominated 2003 HBO documentary Born Rich, here sets his sights on exploring the political, moral and emotional rationale that enables a tiny percentage of Americans - the one percent - to control nearly half the wealth of the entire United States. The film Includes interviews with Nicole Buffett, Bill Gates Sr., Adnan Khashoggi, Milton Friedman, Robert Reich, Ralph Nader and other luminaries. In this hard-hitting but humorous documentary, director Jamie Johnson takes the exploration of wealth that he began in Born Rich one step further. The One Percent, refers to the tiny percentage of Americans who control nearly half the wealth of the U.S. Johnson's thesis is that this wealth in the hands of so few people is a danger to our very way of life. Johnson captures his story through personal interviews with Robert Reich, Adnan Khashoggi, Bill Gates Sr., and Steve Forbes, during which both Johnson's and his subjects' knowledge and humor shine. And he's not afraid to butt heads with Milton Friedman, the economist who coined the term "the trickledown effect." He also shows how the other half lives, using real-world examples of the wealth gap: he takes a tour of a dilapidated housing project in Chicago, rides around with an enlightened taxi driver, and sees the human toll of the unfair economics of the Florida sugar industry. Johnson's film is at its most powerful when it reveals how the super-rich work to preserve their own monetary dominance. As a member of the "Johnson & Johnson" family, he gets rare access to an exclusive wealth conference at which the über rich learn strategies for preserving their fortunes, and learns the personal management styles of some of the countries wealthiest employers. No great society has survived such a massive wealth gap; who knows if ours will?

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7 Comments / User Reviews

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  • Guest

    Great exploration into the paradox of being extremely rich or poor in America, and the influence of money, or the lack there of, on living standards. I think the film reveals how some 'extremely rich people' view wealth and poverty and rationalize the inherent contradiction of inequality--or don't. However, the film also affirms that there are many decent people in this country--rich, poor, God-loving, black, white, etc.--who are well meaning, know better, and want better for our nation, and perhaps humankind overall. There are, of course, some out-right corporate scoundrels, and greedy compradors of both political and academic persuasion (e.g., Milton Friedman).

    However, until we take the money out of politics, end the corruption and fraud of the Banksters, and put an end to the Debt-based monetary system of the Federal Reserve, the very notion of "the American dream" of upward mobility through hard work, ingenuity, opportunity, and saving will continue to loose currency in the reality and in the aspirations of "the poor," and working class of America. The rich may, or may not, be to blame, but this is America and we can dobe better!  

  • Just read that site and although I agree that the worlds problems are psychological, in my opinion they stem from child abuse, I disagree that democracy is the solution if by democracy you mean 2 individuals can force 1 individual to do something against their will. If that's the case things like "real", "participatory", or "direct" democracy are just more efficient forms of enslavement.

    Is rape moral merely because there is more than 1 man raping a woman? Is robbing a store moral merely because there are more thieves than shop workers? Is stealing a car moral merely because the passengers outnumber the driver?

    If instead by democracy you mean as free association/ostracism where those who agree with doing something do it and those that don't want to do something don't have to do it then im fine with that since there's has been no acts of aggression.

    How about advocating for real change like something as simple as the non-aggression principle?

  • Sarawolf

    Jamie, my respect to you for doing this movie! could need some more research... but considering your family background you did very good. join us on global change!! or similar :) sara

  • Bernard

    TCAS supports Consumers Movement
    in the US; we are the 99%

    Consumers’ consumption choices are powerful decisions
    that we make in our everyday life, but we might not see their consequences and force.
    Occupy the Wall Street Strategy will shape markets, corporate’ interests, our consumption
    patterns and financial sector in general. Please rest assured Tanzania
    Consumers are behind your humble initiatives!! Keep-up the good work for the
    betterment of consumers all over the world.

  • Guest

    I commend Jamie Johnson's courage and compassion. Glad to know empathy does exist within the 1% regarding wealth inequality, albeit rarely. I hope he gets involved with the Occupy movement.

  • guest

    and I thought 1%ers were outlaw bikers ...

  • guest

    we end with a bunch of scapegoat scapgoating each another. All to hide us wou the real OWNERS are. Monarchies still rules the USA. (covertly)

    British royalties hide behind Big Banks or and Giant coorporations, Those in returns scapegoat the govt. and the govt use walth gap to hide themselves. (It's not the govt. its the richs.... LAME.

    WAKE up!

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