HIGHTOWER: Bank Robbery

Get ready, I'm about to hit you with a cuss word: "Banker."Greedheaded bankers are gobbling up the fattest profits in American history -- taking nearly $49 BILLION in profits from us last year.Is this rich gravy theirs because they're offering such excellent service to us customers? Spare me. They're getting fatter than a butcher's dog simply because our so-called banking "regulators" are letting them rob us in broad daylight. For the past several years, regulators have looked the other way while bankers (one) lowered what they pay you to put your money in their banks and, (two) held-up what they charge you to borrow money from their banks. Today, for example, a banker is paying you a paltry 3 percent for a money-market deposit, and charging you a princely 18 percent for your credit-card charges.Bonnie and Clyde never had it this easy.Now here they come waving a new hold-up weapon: fees. Open an account, ask about your account, use your account, close your account -- fee, fee, fee, fee. Want to talk to a teller? There's even a fee for that. In 1990, there were 96 different bank fees. Today, there are 250 kinds of fees.You don't even have to go into the bank to be robbed. They hit you at the ATM machine, which used to be free. Now, you're charged twice every time you use it -- once by your bank, and again by the bank that owns the machine. Oh, they've also come up with a "dormant card fee" -- a charge for not using your ATM card often enough!"Oh," say the bankers, "we have to charge a lot because ATMs are so expensive to run."Liars. Consumer watchdog Ralph Nader has found that for every dollar you pay in ATM fees, the bank makes 81-cents in pure profit.This is Jim Hightower saying, "Bankers. Shouldn't they have to wear ski masks when they rob us?"

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