John Edwards is selling out to Wall Street. I think this is a good thing. We need talented people in business. Indeed, I consider tax lawyers public interest lawyers, because when money is kept away from a wasteful government and invested in the private sector, the public has opportunities we would not have had. But I'm an unabashed capitalist. I don't bully about their being two Americas.
I am, however, a Christian, and thus struggle with this question: When does a person have enough personal wealth that he has failed to live morally? How much is too much? (Un?)fortunately, I haven't had to live that question, since after paying student loans, rent, and other bills, I have enough left over to eat, read a few books, and smoke a couple of cigars. (Still, should I indulge in such luxuries when others have nothing to eat? Should I eat cheaper food and give the balance to the poor?)
Since I generally hang out with plaintiffs' lawyers, I've met a lot of people who call themselves "public interest" lawyers. I even worked for a firm whose managing partner is a head of some silly "justice" organization. The partner was a scoundrel who treated his associates with contempt, cared little about litigation-related costs (hey, the client will foot the bill), and lived in a mansion. This lawyer was hardly a lawyer who acted with the intent to further the public interest. He was a businessperson who traded a person's suffering for money.
Injured persons deserve compensation, and sometimes money really does ease a person's pain. So I don't begrude plaintiffs' lawyers their living, and in fact, I work exclusively for plaintiffs' lawyers. And, again, I think it's great that people can make a lot money, and I don't judge someone for being greedy. Hey, maybe it's true that greed is good. Truth is between man and his God. But we mortals can't spot inconsistencies. Logic doesn't prove there is a God, but it does prove there is a hypocrite.
When someone like John Edwards, whose net worth is between twenty- and seventy-million, takes a job on Wall Street, I can safely say he's a hypocrite. He does not care about the poor America. (Unless, like me, he thinks that helping business ultimately helps the poor. Does he? Doubt it.) He cares about his own wallet. Edwards, like so many politicians and lawyers, cares about the poor when it furthers his own personal wealth and power. I'd pretend to care about a lot of things to become a Senator, Vice President of the United States, or Trial Lawyer of the Century. I'd even pretend to care about Edwards!
So he can stuff the talk about how compassionate he is for the poor, and that he wants to further the interest of the other America. In the neighborhood, we liked to say, "Don't talk the talk, unless you're willing to walk the walk." Edwards talked the talk, and walked the walk - right to Wall Street.