by David A. Love
In this winter of economic discontent in America, many people feel as if they have been robbed, and in fact they have. Unscrupulous Wall Street investment managers run off with billions of dollars of hard-earned money. Retirement savings and 401k’s vanish without a trace and seemingly without a remedy. Unregulated markets allow banks to prey on the public with mortgages containing unconscionable hidden terms and penalties. Meanwhile, corporate beneficiaries of the taxpayer-financed bailout extravaganza plot with conservative activists to kill the Employee Free Choice Act - which will facilitate the formation of unions - in order to “save” American capitalism and prevent the U.S. from turning into France.
The free market run amok, combined with regulatory police asleep at the wheel, a decline in bargaining power for workers, and an upward redistribution of wealth, has been a recipe for disaster for ordinary people. Meanwhile, most people do not realize that each year, employers steal billions of dollars in wages from millions of hard working low and middle-income employees. Someone could face a year or two in jail for stealing $1000, yet a crime of this grand scale goes unpunished.
On this second anniversary edition of the Color of Law column, it is fitting that I review the book, WageTheft in America: Why Millions of Working Americans Are Not Getting Paid - And What We Can Do About It by Kim Bobo. Bobo is the founder and executive director of the Chicago-based nonprofit organization Interfaith Worker Justice, and a columnist for Religion Dispatches. And in this fascinating yet disturbing (and ultimately optimistic) book she provides the reader with nothing less than the anatomy of an invisible epidemic. More here