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Trump's America: Open to global capital, not people

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

Trump to global CEOs and financiers in Davos, Switzerland, last week: "America is open for business." We're now a great place for you to make money. We've slashed taxes and regulations so you can make a bundle here.

Trump to ambitious young immigrants around the world, including those brought here as children: America is closed. We don't want you. Forget that poem affixed to the Statue of Liberty about bringing us your poor yearning to breathe free. Don't even try.

In Trump's America, global capital is welcome, people aren't.

Well, I have news for the so-called businessman. America was built by ambitious people from all over the world, not by global capital.

Global capital wants just one thing: A high return on its investment.

Global capital has no obligation to any country or community. If there's another place around the world where taxes are lower and regulations laxer, global capital will move there at the speed of an electronic blip.

Global capital doesn't care how it gets a high return. If it can get it by slashing wages, outsourcing to contract workers, polluting air and water, defrauding investors or destroying communities, it will.

People are different. Once they've rooted somewhere, they generally stay put. They develop webs of connections and loyalties.

If they're ambitious -- and, let's face it, the one characteristic that almost all immigrants to America have shared for more than two centuries is ambition -- they develop skills, educate their kids and contribute to their communities and their nation.

My great-grandfather arrived in America from Ukraine. He was 19 years old and penniless. What brought him here was his ambition. He built a business. He started a family.

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