Money and Poverty

This past Sunday’s edition of the N&O contained an article on John Edwards’ personal wealth and his campaign for advocating for the poor.  One implied criticism is Edwards just built a multimillion dollar estate complete with pool and basketball court and thus cannot possibly truly advocate for the poor.  His neighbor across the street who humbly owns an old gas station, etc. claims Edwards has never bothered to say “hello” and that he doesn’t “care about us”.   This criticism and portrayal is completely unfair.  Let’s look at Franklin Delano Roosevelt for example.   He was born a wealthy man, and was a very wealthy president…comparably much wealthier than John Edwards.  Yet he was the president who signed our social security system into law, created the New Deal to offset the sagging economy and assist the unemployed.  He is considered one of our greatest presidents in the
United States.  John Edwards was not born into wealth and worked very hard to achieve financial success.
Consider currently another wealthy senator whose work for the poor is exceptional and tireless.  Ted Kennedy has worked tirelessly for increasing the minimum wage for years! Now with a Democratic Congress he is making progress on the first minimum wage increase in over 10 years.  Despite his wealth, he advocates wholeheartedly for the poor.Currently, another candidate for president boasts net worth similar to Edwards but the ability to fundraise millions and millions more.  Hillary Clinton, whose net worth to date is listed up to 50 million dollars, makes her the 14th richest senator in the senate.  John Kerry is estimated to be worth 750 million and is the richest senator!  Was anyone questioning his ability to work hard for the lower and middle class Americans during his campaign?  According to Forbes, at least half of the senators coming in this year are multi-millionaires.    One of the fine attributes of John Edwards is his having come from extremely modest means, and with hard work and intellect and compassion for people (and a little luck), he has done well.    All throughout his career he has demonstrated his deep passion for helping those less fortunate than himself.  Edwards is actually using his campaign to address poverty with the creation of OneCorps, whose mission is to “fight poverty in  local communities; addressing important local needs through community organizing and service projects.”  Edwards often currently says why wait till after the election to make a difference?  He fully knows that if not elected president, he still has done something very important for uplifting communities nationwide.  Such an approach to a campaign is completely humble and selfless. Edwards has never stopped working for those in poverty.  In the last two years he led UNC’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity and traveled extensively nationally and internationally to raise awareness of the daily issues affecting the poor (working and non-working), which he has said generally is a “great moral issue”.  One particular goal of the Center is to address “the persistent deficiencies in the delivery of high-quality education to students in low-income areas”.  He personally has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to send financially challenged high school seniors to college through his “College for Everyone” program.  He wants everyone to see the stepping stone to a better job and a better life.    It’s simply ridiculous to look at John Edwards’ house and financial status as a negative characteristic of this future president.  We should look at what he has done in his work, is currently doing on his campaign, and will continue to do for all Americans as he proactively tackles the complexity of poverty in America.


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