I’m not sure which is worse, the junk science which Edwards sold to juries to make his fortune as a trial lawyer or the junk economics he is selling to the voters of Iowa. Edwards is escalating his attacks on the corporations. Such a populist message might pay off in rural Iowa, but it will be a tough sell nation wide.
Despite what John Edwards might want to tell you, corporations essentially are not evil. They are not good either. They are generally amoral creations primarily concerned with making profits. Profits are not evil. John Edwards should agree with that–after all he sure has made plenty of money. While sometimes corporations might do objectionable things to make the profits, and in some cases specific government action might be needed, it is also corporations which create many of the jobs in this country. To paraphrase the commercial, corporations make the things that we buy–period. If they make a profit by selling us things that we want that is perfectly fine–especially as we have the opportunity to share in the profits by investments. Edwards’ meme of making corporations the source of all evil is to economics what the junk science in his malpractice cases was to real science.
This does not mean that there aren’t legitimate areas to change the relationship between corporations and government. The energy industry should not be able to write energy policy as Dick Cheney allowed them to. The massive benefits to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries under Bush’s Medicare D plan should be eliminated along with other cases of corporate welfare. The government must remain vigilant against companies which falsely report financial data and otherwise harm investors.
While sometimes corporations cross the line, in other cases we must remember that this is a free society. This applies to businesses as well as individuals. Corporations may do things we wish they wouldn’t, such as pay executives huge salaries and retirement benefits, but government should have no control over such matters.
In 2004 John Kerry saw the problems in health care and devised a plan which experts writing for The National Journal ranked the best plan of all the candidates. Kerry’s plan concentrated on voluntary measures to assist individuals and companies obtain health care at an affordable price, but he decided against mandates. Edwards, along with most of the other Democratic candidates, have forgotten that the problem is to offer assistance to those who desire it, not shove it down everyone’s throats. Now Edwards has gone even further, not only requiring that businesses provide health care coverage. Edwards will require employers to offer a new universal retirement account to all workers.
Next I suspect Edwards will promise a chicken in every pot, or perhaps promise to each according to their needs.