You've gotta love Jamie Johnson. The prettiest boy heir of the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune has a real knack for uncovering the most confusing and loathsome aspects of wealth. First we heard about all of his tragic but forgivably young and naïve friends in Born Rich, his debut documentary. Now, with his sophomore effort, The One Percent, we're apparently going to hear about the older versions of these subjects — the ones whose offensiveness we can't shrug off as due to youth or stupidity. "Contrary to common assumption, many of the wealthiest Americans aren't worried about the weakening economy at all," Johnson wrote on the Huffington Post last night. "They are actually excited about it." Wait, wha? But they're the ones who are going to lose the most money! (Oh, wait. They're still going to have tons of it while we have less of the little we had originally.) Johnson explains the so-called glee of the ultrarich:
To them, the crisis in the housing market, the recent slide in stock prices, and the general loss in purchasing power for millions of Americans have resulted in the thinning of the aristocratic ranks, or in other words, have decreased demand for the highest level of luxury living. Ironically, for the mega-rich, recession brings with it the ability to live well at a lower cost and with less of a hassle.
Johnson can't resist a touch of obnoxiousness on his own behalf in the HuffPo essay: "As a member of the family that founded the Johnson and Johnson pharmaceutical company, I have been given unprecedented access to Whitneys, Vanderbilts, Forbeses, Gateses, Buffetts and Bloombergs." But he doesn’t cut any of the other members of his "class" any slack:
Another subject I recently interviewed blamed what he called mere "centa-millionaires" for the breakdown in exclusivity of his elitist world. For him, the overnight stars of the seven-year bull market not only overcrowded private air travel, but also drove up the price of high-end real estate. Buying a third home in the Hamptons became a burdensome experience for him. As far as he was concerned, there was just too much urgent demand, and although he could easily afford the asking prices, he found the heightened numbers personally offensive.
Man, as far as drumming up interest in his movie goes, this is better than a teaser trailer involving Keira Knightley and Ewan McGregor running away from a spectacular explosion. At the White House. While they are both naked. We are clearly seeing this movie the minute it comes out.
The One Percent [HuffPo]
Earlier: Socialites Pinch Pennies (and Bums!) in the Face of Global Recession
Related: The Upside to the Downside