Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Saturday Documentary: Just Who are The One Percent?

It may come as a surprise to some, but sociologists, demographers, political scientists, anthropologists, and economists know very little about about the top 1 percent of earners in this country.

In contrast, the poor and "the underclasses" have been the subject of volumes of research on their habits, values, hygiene, life chances, communities, neighborhoods, health, income, criminality, and wealth. Why? Because "the public," more generally, and the poor, specifically, are seen as a problem to be regulated and managed by the State.

The "income defense industry," financier, moneyed classes are an amorphous group. They are discussed in clinical terms such as "the power elite" or the "global superclass." Alternatively, the top 1 percent are talked about in the language and logic of conspiracy and threat as the Illuminati, the Bilderbergers or the Shadow Government.

In all, the moneyed classes have the resources and social networks with which to protect their interests. Privacy allows them to operate with relative impunity; thus, the kleptocrats can game the system and pull the levers of the government to ensure that they are rarely the focus of coverage by the media--or research by academics or journalists.

I don't blame them for desperately clinging to their privacy. If I were a member of a class which made an average of 27 million dollars a year, while the rest of the public only earned an average of 34 thousand dollars a year, I too would lay low and operate in the shadows.

The documentary The 1 Percent offers a great peek into the world of the moneyed elite. Beyond the pop culture fantasies of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, these folks are the real deal.

When you watch this documentary keep in mind that most wealth in America is inherited, the class position of one's parents largely determines where a given individual ends up in the income and wealth hierarchy as an adult, and that these are the very people who Rick Perry, Herman Cain and others want to exempt from taxes.

And what about this?

So wealth is a sign of Christ's love? The poor are poor because God has decided that wealth would be too much of a burden for them? In the 21st century, how did Christianity become perverted and hoodwinked by retread Calvinists who now call themselves Republicans?


Comrade PhysioProf said...

One fascinating thing from a sociological perspective about the 1% is the dramatic difference between the 0.99% and the 0.01%. While the 0.99% are obviously extremely comfortable, they live in the same basic world as the non-poverty-stricken 99%: they shop in the same stores and markets, use the same streets and sidewalks, travel on the same trains and planes, go to the same movie theaters and other entertainment venues, etc. However, the 0.01% live in a completely different world, using armored vehicles with armed guards, flying private planes, vacationing in giant yachts and private islands, etc.

An important dynamic from the standpoint of gaining the financial traction behind OWS that leads to electoral traction is what fraction of the 0.99% ally themselves with the 99%, or with the 0.01%.

Anonymous said...

Yes, CPP! And, WRN, thanks for finding this video!!!

chaunceydevega said...

@Comrade. the differences do matter. I wonder though, why did the subjects of the video allow themselves to be interviewed and recorded? that is the one thing that gives me pause about what I find to otherwise be a commendable project.

@profacero. cool name btw. watch it and tell me what you think.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Oh, and just to be very, very clear: the people addressed in Johnson's documentary (and Johnson himself) are the 0.01%, not the 0.99%.