From the Left



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

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

Then he invited his brothers and sisters from Ukraine to join him. He put them up in his home and gave them some of his savings to start their own lives as Americans.

You may call it "chain migration," Mr. Trump, but we used to call it "family reunification." We believed it wasn't just humane to allow members from abroad to join their loved ones here, but also good for America. It made the nation stronger and more prosperous.

By the way, Mr. Trump, global capital doesn't create jobs. Jobs are created when customers want more goods and services. Nobody invests in a business unless they expect consumers to buy what that business will produce. Those consumers include immigrants.

Consumers are also workers. The more productive they are and the better they're paid, the more goods and services they buy -- creating a virtuous circle of higher wages and more jobs.

They become more productive and better paid when they have access to good schools and universities, good health care and well-maintained transportation systems linking them together.

This combination -- people rooted in families and communities, supplemented by ambitious young immigrants, all aided by good education and infrastructure -- made America the economic powerhouse it is today.

Along the way, regulations proved to be necessary guardrails. We protected the environment, prevented fraud and tried to stop financial entities from gambling away everyone's savings, because we came to see that capitalism without such guardrails is a mudslide.

We didn't accomplish what we've achieved by cutting taxes and slashing regulations so global investors could make more money in America, while preventing ambitious immigrants from coming to our shores.

We raised taxes -- especially on big corporations and wealthy individuals -- in order to finance good schools, public universities and infrastructure. We regulated business. And we welcomed immigrants and reunited families.


Global capital came our way not because we were a cheap place to do business but because we were a fabulously productive and innovative place to do business.

Now Trump and his rich backers want to undo all this. No one should be surprised. When they look at the economy they only see money. They've made lots of it.

But the real economy is people. America should be open to ambitious people even if they're dirt poor, like my great-grandfather. It should also be open to their relations, whose family members here will give them a start.

It should invest in people, as it once did.

America didn't become great by global capital seeking higher returns, but by people from all over the world seeking better lives. And global capital won't make it great again.


(Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future." He blogs at



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