Edwards and Romney: Two Candidates, Two Views of Wealth, Two Phonies

The business section of The New York Times features a comparison of two candidates and their two different views of wealth, looking at John Edwards and Mitt Romney. While the far left won’t get it (as they’ve failed to understand why Democrats have been out of power for so many years), the differences ultimately show why nominating John Edwards will lead to a return to power by the Republicans. Most Americans strive to earn their own fortune, regardless of whether this is realistic, as opposed to wanting to place the government in charge of every aspect of their lives. Far more Americans want to be part of the successful business world than want to tear it down and realize that a growing economy is the only way to really reduce poverty.Most voters will understand that while reforms might be necessary, John Edwards’ ideas are not the solution.

I’ve often noted a similarity between the junk science Edwards used to amass a fortune as a trial lawyer with the junk economics he now basis his campaign on. The article also acknowledges the limited support for Edwards among economists:

His populist bent helps explain why only one high-profile economist — James K. Galbraith of the University of Texas, the son of John Kenneth Galbraith — has joined the campaign. Some economists have been especially dismayed by Mr. Edwards’s negative talk about trade.

The article talks of two candidates, two fortunes, and two views of wealth. They could also have added “two phonies.” Mitt’s flip-flopping from the days when he ran as a social liberal in Massachusetts is well known. I’ve also shown ways in which Edwards is a phony in past posts and am reminded of another by the picture in the article of Edwards in front of his childhood home. Edwards has claimed, “I was brought home to a two-room house in a mill village.” While that is true, he leaves out the fact that “within a year his family moved to a better house as his father, a mill worker, began a rise that eventually made him a supervisor.”

Update: James Joyner sums up the differences between the two (perhaps attributing too much entrepreneurial skill to Romney than he deserves but is also softer on Edwards than I would be):

Getting a cut from exploiting tragedies and convincing juries to award massive damage amounts is markedly different from building businesses and putting people to work. It’s not hard to see why the latter would feel his money was more deserved than the former. Or why the latter would see the virtues of a free market while the former would emphasize the contributions of others.

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  1. 1
    Eric Dondero says:

    Careful Ron, you’re really starting to sound like a libertarian here, not a liberal.

    Perhaps you should change the name of the site to “Libertarian Values.”

    Congrats on your newfound pro-free enterprise views.

  2. 2
    The Scarlet Pimpernel says:

    Junk economics advocated by John Edwards. Let see. That junk economics built the greatest economy the worl had ever seen. The Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman began the systematic dismantling of it and the resulting beath spiral of the middle class. Good luck with your Obama/Clinton wafflers. At least Edwards can connect with the middle class in a way that no one in the Democratic Party has been able to since FDR.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Scarlet Pimpernel,

    It wasn’t John Edwards’ brand of economics which built anything. It’s amusing that you use an erroneous FDR analogy as I’ve often noted that one reason Democrats have lost in recent years is that many have failed to recognize how the world has changed from FDR’s day.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:


    What do you mean “newfound pro-free enterprise views.” This blog has always promoted free enterprise as a core liberal value, opposing both the anti-free enterprise views of the far left and the corporate welfare policies of recent Republicans.

    I’ll stick with Liberal Values as the title. In recent years there has been considerable realignment and change in the use of such terms as party affiliation (along with the liberal vs. conservative) divide being more along views on the Iraq war and the culture war as opposed to upon economics. That’s not to deny that there aren’t still some with anti-free enterprise views who support a populist reactionary like Edwards as is seen above.

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