"The Leaders We Are Waiting For Are Us"
Edwards pointed out the need both nationally and internationally for Americans to step up to the plate and lead on the issue of poverty. In the U.S. 37 million people live in poverty, while throughout the world, 3 billion people exist on $2 per day. Katrina exposed the vulnerability of the poor; most people who could not evacuate lacked the means to do so. In any adversity, “the poor always get hurt the worst, they live on the razor’s edge.” Edwards is hopeful though. “Americans have a hunger to be inspired.”
Edwards pointed out that the Katrina disaster brought out the best in Americans while the governments stumbled as an indicator of what can be accomplished with inspiration. He believes the American public wants a return to a sense of national community, and categorically rejects the notion that one’s success or failure is entirely the credit or blame of the individual. “I never could got there by myself, “ said Edwards.
Edwards put forward some ideas to address our national poverty problems. He pointed out that 50 million Americans work in the service sector of our economy with wide variances in pay from place to place. He used the hospitality industry as an example; those who can be a part of a union get living wages and benefits, while those who cannot earn $6 per hour without benefits. Edwards proposed a simple sign up process for individuals to join a union, instead of complicated processes used today. Edwards would also like to see a crackdown on predatory lending practices, raising the national minimum wage, matching funds for struggling families to build savings accounts, reform of the Earned Income Tax Credit and access to college for qualified students without burdening young people with student loan debt.
Senator Edwards said all these issues and more are part of a bigger issue. We got “lots of politicians, but few leaders’ and a “huge void in moral leadership.”
He closed with “The leaders we are waiting for are us.”