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Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Corporations want to save junk fees

Can you squeeze blood from a turnip? 

By Jim Hightower 

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, and 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. 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 Biden, who’s pressuring the gougers to come clean. “Hooray!” exult consumers who are 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. One 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 at 

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. This op-ed was distributed by