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Did you catch the grinch?

People are frustrated they and their children aren’t doing as well as their parents. There’s a grinch out there mucking things up. Did you catch it? It’s time to lock it up!

How come our parents’ did well? Education and immigration!!! Think mines and factories were staffed and roads and railroads built by the sons and daughters of the American Revolution? We got immigrants to do the dirty jobs – Chinese, Irish, Poles, all kinds of immigrants plus immigrants lured under false pretenses and then treated like slaves. America burst into an industrial powerhouse beginning with the Civil War when unlimited immigrants came. We bought, ate, rode and drove on what they made. They still want to do all that for the rest of us but we no longer let them. The jobs are different now – including agricultural and essential work – but the needs are still there.

And we used to make sure to educate them. Without education and immigration we’d be subsistence farmers with little to show for our efforts. Before the land grant colleges, authorized during the Civil War and financed with federal investment, our methods of agriculture were medieval. Without both education and immigration there’d be no infrastructure, no industry, no hospitals, no health systems.

The Republican response is cut, block and deport. Block and deport immigrants so there aren’t enough workers and nothing gets done except for complaining about inflation. Send back those who grew up here and let them take their educations somewhere else. They must imagine we’d be healthy if we could keep out all those who want to be our nurses, aides and doctors – you think we graduate enough doctors by ourselves? Silly.

Cut, block and deport. Cut their rich friends’ taxes. Cut every program, starting with Social Security, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act that benefits anyone else, and let most of us, including essential workers, squirm. Cut jobs and education because there’s no money. And there’s no money because Republican penny pinchers cut taxes for themselves and their rich friends!

The tax system has been continuously distorted by the wealthiest Americans and their corporations since 1980. The marginal tax rate for average Americans has been about a fifth of their income from 1970 to the present. In 1970, however, the top tax rate for the wealthy, paid only on their top dollars, was 70%. But the maximum tax rate, regardless of earnings, declined to 37% or about 3/8s of however much income they declare, and the wealthy actually pay much less because they have access to tax deductions and loopholes that most of us don’t. Remember Warren Buffet who was outraged to discover that his secretary paid a higher tax rate than he did. No wonder we “can’t afford” anything – can’t afford to repair roads, water systems, or keep schools functioning at the same high level we benefitted from when we and our parents went to school. The grinches are making out like bandits.

Frankly, the wealthy ought to pay more than average Americans. They don’t need those high dollars as much as ordinary Americans need every penny of what they make. And they get a lot more benefits from government. Just ask their lobbyists!

So, did you find the Grinch? Lock it up and ship it out on the big plane Woody Guthrie labeled “Deportees.”

Steve Gottlieb’s latest book is Unfit for Democracy: The Roberts Court and The Breakdown of American Politics. He is the Jay and Ruth Caplan Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Albany Law School, served on the New York Civil Liberties Union board, on the New York Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Iran.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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