In Des Moines today, Sen. John "Anti-Hillary" Edwards caps a week of modernized populism with a big think policy speech wherein he contends that a "culture" of "greed" has "overtaken corporate America" and needs to be reformed.

The key ideas: a new plan to "restore corporate responsibility" and "balance" by "modernizing the social contract."

Policy points include, per the campaign:

-- Creating retirement benefits that move from job to job by creating universal retirement accounts and honoring pension promises

-- Granting shareholders new rights

-- Capping unfair levels of executive pensions

-- Modernize labor laws to give workers a stronger voice

Here are some excerpts:

In corporate America, where a broader sense of social responsibility once held sway, a culture of greed has taken over. Instead of treating their employees fairly, being accountable to their shareholders and contributing to America’s prosperity, CEOs act like their corporations exist just to build their own massive fortunes.

What does Washington do while corporate profits climb and the wealth of the very wealthiest grows – all at the expense of the vast majority of hardworking Americans? It circles the wagons around the people who are already doing the best. Instead of protecting the compact of equal opportunity and shared prosperity, Washington protects corporate profits and hoards prosperity. That is wrong, it is shameful, and it is bad for our economy to boot.


The system in Washington is badly broken. It used to be that big business hired lobbyists and lawyers to help them get around the rules. That was bad enough – today, they hire them to write the rules. And it works, because the politicians who are supposed to make the rules are indebted to the lobbyists the corporations hire.
In America today, we need action measured by conviction, not just words. In this election, you face a choice between honest leadership and say anything politics, between conviction and calculation, between strength and compromise. Let me tell you something: it takes strength to say no to the lobbyists and special interests – it’s much easier to just go along to get along. But I will never compromise my principles for the sake of politics – and I’ve been saying “no deal” to the big corporations, the special interests, and the lobbyists who work for them my entire life.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to