Power flows like a river, but in America today, the river flows underground. We don’t see it ripping through our lives, controlling how we live. Come with me underground, and I’ll show you that river.
I represent the victims of corporate crime. Corporations use every lawful tactic, and they use unlawful ones, too, to keep me from penetrating their defenses. But sometimes I get in; sometimes I get a peek inside these corporations. I can read their secret documents and reconstruct critical meetings, so I can show you corporations breaking the law and committing crimes they know will kill people. This corporate killing is one of the leading causes of violent death in America. If that sounds crazy, it should be because these homicides are carefully concealed in ways that would impress even the National Security Agency. Yeah, it sounds crazy because it is crazy, but it’s also true, and I can prove it.
I will show you something more, a conspiracy to capture America. Certain corporations, working together, have seized a controlling influence in our political process. As a result, bills supported by almost all Americans, such as paid maternity leave and anti-corruption provisions, can’t pass. Yet, at the same time, unpopular initiatives like corporate subsidies and legalized payments to politicians, Wall Street bailouts, consolidated monopoly power, and the evisceration of worker protections, those things became law. This invisible political power is why corporate profits have been recorded at the highest level ever. It’s why our economy has crashed into a kind of warlord capitalism and why so many Americans are falling into extremism, anger, and despair.
How bad is it? Let me tell you a quick story. I was sitting in my law office one day when someone came to the front desk, begging to talk to a lawyer. I went down to see him. He was so nervous. He was shaking. “I have medical bills for my son,” he told me. “I have to pay for his treatments. I don’t make a lot of money, and my company stole from my paycheck.” He told me how he was getting shorted. So, I looked at all the documents, and sure enough, his company was stealing wages. I figured it was a big mistake.
Big, rich companies don’t steal from their workers, not in America, but I was wrong. It turns out 64% of low-wage earners have pay stolen. The average worker with low wages has over $2,500 stolen every year. It adds up to more than all the bank robberies in America combined. What’s even crazier is this. The companies get away with it. The companies have purchased politicians that help them. There is no law enforcement for that kind of robbery.
Once these companies have that power, it’s not just wages they steal. Power corrupts. You know that. What you don’t know is that you are in physical danger, and that danger keeps growing. It doesn’t have to be that way. Americans have saved their country from corporate capture before, and we can do it again. But first, we have to wake up and see the danger.
Where I grew up, we all knew what it meant when they raised two red and black flags, one on top of the other. That’s a hurricane warning for winds over 74 miles per hour. Of course, we were kids. We would ask about more powerful winds, the really extreme hurricanes. Is there a special flag for the monster storm? One old guy, I remember him telling us about Betsy. “There are storms,” he said, “that can blow away everything you think you know, and there’s no flag for that.” Come with me underground. Let me show you the river that could wash away everything you love.