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

It’s pure corporate larceny, also known as price gouging, adding up to a stunning level of unearned profit for the perpetrators.

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, also known as price gouging, 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 of the Public Interest Research Group.

Woody Guthrie’s Anthem Mocking Right-Wing Republicanism

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.

This malicious strain of selfish Republicanism has flared up periodically in our history, with the few striving to repress the many.

Woody Guthrie even wrote an anthem in the 1940s mocking those crusading for such a morally depraved politics:

I’m the meanest man that ever had a brain

I hate everybody don’t think like me…
And I’m readin’ all the books I can
To learn how to hurt…
Keep you without no vote,
Keep you without no union.

Well, if I can get the fat to hatin’ the lean,
That’d tickle me more than anything I’ve seen,
Then get the colors fightin’ one another,
And friend against friend, and brother and sister against brother..

I love to hate and I hate to love!
I’m mean, I’m just mean.

This song is dedicated to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, Rep. Jim Jordan, House Speaker Mike Johnson, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and… well, you know who you are.

Jim Hightower
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