From the Left



Corporate Giants Say You Don't Mind Their Price Gouging. Do You?

Jim Hightower on

According to an old saying, "You can't squeeze blood from a turnip." True. But that raises this question: Who would even try squeezing blood from a turnip?

Well, metaphorically speaking, if "blood" means profit, and "turnips" are customers, airlines are eager to apply the squeeze. As are banks, credit card outfits, cable TV and internet hucksters, car rental companies, concert promoters... and can anyone decipher their insurance policies?

I'm not talking about fair profit, but junk fees, hidden charges, undisclosed add-ons and other "gotchas" that brand-name giants sneak into the fine print of their price tags. It's pure corporate larceny, adding up to a stunning level of unearned profit for the perpetrators: Airlines picked our pockets for nearly $7 billion last year in baggage fees alone; credit card dealers plucked $14 billion from us in punitive late fees; and the overall corporate haul from this secretive squeeze on consumers now tops $64 billion a year!

Shouldn't companies have to tell you -- in plain language -- what they're actually charging you... and for what? "Yes!" says President Joe Biden, who's pressuring the gougers to come clean. "Hooray!" exult consumers, who're tired of being played for suckers.

Of course, as another saying notes, "Where there's a will, there's a thousand won'ts." So, a flock of corporate lobbyists are now swarming the Capitol, crying: "Save junk fees!" Their arguments are hilariously absurd: They assert that price disclosure will "confuse consumers"; that government should not "interfere" in the free market; that it's "technically infeasible" to tell consumers the real price -- and a group who actually quibbled, "What exactly is a fee?"

To help raise common sense and plain fairness to high places, check out the work Public Interest Research Group at



What it is about today's vituperative, foam-at-the-mouth Republican party?

No longer disguising their desire to repress women, workers, immigrants, the poor and all others who differ with (or are different from) their own partisan clan, the party has turned to a politics of hatred and division, openly seeking to punish opponents they now brand as "enemies" and "vermin." What's motivating this plunge into such undiluted political sourness?

My simple observation is that they've succumbed to a base impulse expressed in one straightforward word: MEANNESS. After all, their current agenda amounts to hurting people they don't like, trying to keep America's diverse majority from getting such basic human needs and rights as health care, the vote, fair wages, reproductive liberty and public education free of church dictates. That's not "conservative," it's just mean.


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