State Of Disunion

Unifor. Ever heard of it? If you have, you’re one step ahead of me. It happens to be the largest private sector union in the country. The “super union,” which was announced more than six months ago and officially came into being in August, represents the amalgamation of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions. In total, Unifor has over 300,000 members – and, yet, like me, I bet many Canadians don’t have a clue it even exists.

The idea of joining the two unions was born back in May 2011 when CAW’s president Ken Lewenza and CEP’s boss Dave Coles were attending a Canadian Labour Congress executive meeting, listening to speech after speech about the declining state of Canadian unions. The two chiefs decided that something needed to be done to reverse the slide.

The story of Unifor’s formation is nicely told by author John Lorinc in the December 2013 edition of The Walrus magazine, along with a counterpoint story about a scrappy union called UNITE HERE!, itself an amalgamation of two U.S. unions (the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union). UNITE HERE! Canada represents about 50,000 workers across the country in a wide variety of industries, mostly in lower paying occupations.

Despite being a fraction of Unifor’s size, the smaller union appears to be doing a better job of attracting new workers to its fold, mostly through a grassroots campaign that listens to workers’ concerns and tries to find solutions.

Reaching out to its workers was a key problem that already existed within CAW and CEP’s membership. In fact, one of the goals of Unifor is to provide “a new structure and identity that would better represent its members, organize and empower all workers (whether in the union or not) and build a more cohesive and strategic movement of working people.” Whether that’s happening or not remains to be seen, but it’s something that certainly needed to be addressed.

In my lifetime, I’ve been a part of numerous private sector unions, several of them associated with CEP. My first experience was in my early 20’s when I worked at a paper mill in Northwestern Ontario. Since the “P” in CEP stands for paperworkers, you’d think the union would have some understanding of the nature of the work its members did, but I often found that wasn’t the case.

As a new employee and first-time union member, I remember going to the bank when I was hired and seeing a fairly large sum of money had been taken out of my account. These were my union dues, which were being deducted regularly from my meagre savings, even though I had yet to work a day with the company, was on a “call crew” where I was only brought in when needed, and wouldn’t actually start getting a paycheque for several weeks.

I suppose I didn’t understand how unions worked at the time – and didn’t again when I was laid off for several stints but continued to have union dues deducted – but it seemed unfair to me to be paying a union when I wasn’t even being paid by the company.

You might think a union representing paperworkers would understand the sometimes-sporadic nature of the employees it represented, but you would be wrong. That was just the first in dozens of head-scratching moments over the years when I tried to rationalize what the union was ordering me to do – and what common sense seemed to be telling me I should be doing, instead.

Several years later I belonged to a union called NABET (National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians) while working at a television station. That seemed to be a good union that understood its employees and the nature of the work they did. But, as has happened with many smaller unions over the past 20 years, NABET was eventually swallowed up by a bigger union called – wait for it – CEP. It was at that point I wondered how one union could effectively represent me in such diverse occupations.

To me, that’s the crux of the whole problem, one that seems unlikely to improve under Unifor. The new union may talk about getting back to the grassroots and listening to its members’ concerns and all that positive-sounding stuff, but it seems a bit hard to believe. Bigger rarely seems to be better, as most companies have discovered when they’ve grown larger and larger.

Many people have asked, “What does the name ‘Unifor’ mean?” In fact, so many, it’s one of the five “Frequently Asked Questions” on the union’s website. Here’s part of the answer: “The name “Unifor” is intentionally ambiguous. It means different and personal things to a union membership that is increasingly diverse. The name doesn’t peg us to any one sector of the economy, or a particular workplace. Unifor is a union built for workers. But it’s also a union that reaches out to the unemployed and self-employed; to marginalized and racialized groups union (sic); to women and young workers. Simply put Unifor is a union for everyone.” Alrighty.

If I told you the new union’s name was the result of the efforts of a polling, communications and brand strategy firm, a design company, focus groups, member surveys and townhall meetings, would you be surprised? Between the generic sounding name and the non-descript “U” logo, the response from union leaders, members and the general public has been, at best, underwhelming.

But, branding aside, what really matters is whether anything will change at CAW/CEP/Unifor. Only time will tell if the mega-union will move in a new direction, attracting the same kind of grassroots dedication of UNITE HERE! and truly representing its members’ real needs and concerns – or if it will remain stagnant because it’s increasingly out of touch with the reality of a country where manufacturing jobs, Unifor’s bread and butter, continue to disappear.

In any case, the task ahead won’t be easy. Unions are being bashed everywhere you look, by political parties like Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives, by the media and by many Canadians who either don’t belong to one or feel neglected by their own current union. If Unifor hopes to regain its focus and reenergize the labour movement, it’s going to have to happen soon. Otherwise, it’s going to be too late.

 

Remembering The Forgotten

I wasn’t particularly proud of myself the other week. During an interview with a Canadian war veteran, I asked the one question that haunts him and so many of his peers: “What do you remember of your experiences during the War?” Although I should probably have been expecting it, I was devastated to watch this highly decorated former soldier break down in tears before my eyes, as he tried to compose himself enough to offer a response.

As a person who grew up without the worry of having to serve my country overseas in a brutal foreign war, I learned in that instant a tiny fraction of what those who went before us endured in Europe and Korea and other combat zones more than half a century ago.

Despite having spoken to numerous veterans over the years, it’s easy to forget that, for many, there are no words to describe what they experienced. Many of those who served did so as teenagers, just as this gentleman had. For us to begin comprehending what it must have been like for kids fresh out of high school to risk their lives halfway around the world for a cause they likely didn’t even understand is an exercise in futility.

Here are some sobering numbers. About 16 million people died in WWI, including over 65,000 Canadians or nearly one percent of the country’s population at the time. In WWII, estimated deaths were between 50 and 80 million, about 2.5 percent of the world’s population. That figure includes more than 45,000 Canadians. Over 500 of our countrymen perished in the Korean War.

And there are tens of thousands of other deaths and casualties from those conflicts and others we’ve been part of.

Beyond the sheer numbers, there are so many other changes these wars wrought on our society – the hardships, the destruction of families, the lingering memories, the economic devastation. It’s simply overwhelming.

For all of that, it’s the individual stories of bravery and heroism and suffering and pain endured by the soldiers battling for Canada’s freedom that stick most in your memories. In Lance Goddard’s book ‘Canada and the Liberation of the Netherlands,’ Cliff Chadderton of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles says: “My plans for a normal life ended in a fusillade of German artillery, helped by a German potato masher grenade dropped upon me by a leering German.”

He recalls waking up later in a hospital, wondering what had happened to the rest of his men and considering his condition: “I did not think I was in very bad shape until a doctor, performing triage, stripped away the bloodstained parts of my battledress. A lot of walking wounded from the attack lined the corridor. The battlefield surgeon told them they would have to wait until he tended to this officer (me), whose wounds he classified as ‘probably fatal.’ The expression set off a jolt in the pit of my stomach.”

He continues: “A vague debate trickled through my subconscious mind. Would they take off my right left or my left leg? The doctor told the nurse, ‘I think I can save one.’”

Or, in the book, “Hell & High Water: Canada and the Italian Campaign,” also by Goddard, Herb Pike of the 48th Highlanders recounts: “We were bogged down with mud, you just couldn’t move. Their dead was left all over the valley there, and Padre East would come along every night and ask for volunteers to go out and pick up the guys. Well, he’d come down and the guys in the slit trenches would call out, ‘The Padre’s on his way’ and all the guys would duck and try to stay down so you wouldn’t have to volunteer. They’d go out and pick up the dead. Well, you know, that may sound a little cruel, but you know if a guy’s dead, he’s dead…

His fellow Highlander, Gord Outhwaite, concludes Pike’s thought: There’s no sense in having another one dead alongside of him.”

Over 600,000 Canadians served in WWI, 1.1 million in WWII, and over 25,000 in Korea. To those who fought, we owe our freedom today. Everything we take for granted as the years pass and the memories fade is a result of these heroes, who risked and gave their lives so that we could carry on, so that we would survive. In the coming days, you will see ceremonies and tributes and remembrances that recall that dedication and bravery. Will you turn away? Or will you remember those resolute heroes who risk being forgotten with the passing of time? Choose wisely.

 

Printing The Unprintable: A Question Of Ethics

Everyone has his or her own moral compass that points in a particular direction. It’s called into play whenever an ethical dilemma arises and we’re forced to decide either to stay on the right side of the moral fence – or cross over into the dark zone. In our normal lives, it’s hard to say how often that happens. But, in the world of journalism, it’s always an ongoing issue.

Several weeks ago, a university student who’s enrolled in a Masters of Journalism program interviewed me for an assignment he was working on. Specifically, I was asked to discuss an ethical dilemma I’ve had – and how I dealt with it. The more I thought about trying to pinpoint one specific incident, the more I realized that almost every single news story I work on contains at least one ethical quandary. That’s shocking to me.

As a reporter, I learn plenty of things that never make it into the stories I write – for a variety of reasons. The most common example is when a person tells me something “off the record.” Ethically, as soon as someone invokes those three words, nothing can be reported. But, as I explained to the student, when does that privilege end? Generally, those “off the record” comments are a sidebar to the main story. Therefore, once the interviewee finishes those comments, we should be back “on the record.”

However, how do you know when that actually happens? You can interrupt the person and say, “Are we back on the record now?” or you can make your own decision. I believe most reporters do the latter – but if you’re not 100% certain, you risk having the person confront you later angrily, saying, “I thought that was supposed to be off the record.”

Further to that point, what happens if you learn something “off the record” and use that information to try and get others to open up? Technically – and ethically – that’s forbidden territory. It’s like your best friend telling you a secret and making you swear not to tell anyone else. Most people’s moral compasses tell them not to do it – but some people don’t seem to have any problem breaking that confidence. I suspect many reporters do the same thing, although it wouldn’t be something I’d be comfortable with.

What about offhand remarks people make that they never expect to be quoted on? Unlike television where you’ve got a camera stuck in your face and tend to be more guarded in what you say, newspaper reporting is often more like having a conversation with someone. In many situations, people will reveal certain confidential information or make an off-the-cuff remark, perhaps one that is inflammatory, sarcastic, racist or in some way compromising, but without telling you it’s “off the record.”

How do you decide whether you should use the comment or not? I find journalists for larger newspapers often worry less about this dilemma than a small town reporter like me. They really don’t care much whether they embarrass someone they hardly know or make it so that person won’t talk to the media again. In the case of this newspaper, we interview the same people over and over again. We work and live in the communities we serve, so if we decide to “burn” someone, humiliate them or take their comments out of context, we likely won’t be able to continue doing our jobs effectively.

Does this mean we bury stories or don’t cover them accurately? I hope not. Instead, I think we find creative ways to get around the issue and tell the story in a fair and balanced way, without singling out a particular person and making them look bad. Most of the people we interview still trust us. They see us on the street regularly, so they assume we’re going to treat them fairly. If we don’t, we’re taking a huge gamble – and we better be prepared to suffer the consequences.

The question of ethics has so many facets, it’s impossible to cover them all. Our main goals as reporters should always be to cover stories fairly, accurately, and without bias. However, that’s rarely as easy as it sounds. Often, we’re just not able to get both sides to talk to us, especially if it involves the government or large corporations, both of who either don’t return calls or give you only the information they want you to have and avoid your other questions. So, we’re left trying to do a balanced story when all we have is one side. Are we ethically bound to try digging up information to counterbalance the story?

In the end, it all comes back to that moral compass. If you have a strong ethical guidance system that forces you to stay on the side of good at all times, that’s wonderful. However, it’s also probably not realistic. As a reporter, you can’t always write positively about all the issues and events you cover. You wouldn’t last long in this often-cynical business.

On the flipside, if your compass doesn’t work at all, you won’t last long either. Journalism doesn’t often rank very high on lists of the “Most Trusted Professions,” and we don’t do ourselves any favours when we start crossing questionable ethical lines. Moral dilemmas will always be a daily part of our jobs. The decisions we make reflect not only who we are, but how much we value our readers. In my case, I hope I’ll continue to make the morally correct decision whenever I’m forced to choose. As a loyal reader, you deserve nothing less.

 

Gazing Into A Crystal Ball

Imagine being able to predict the future, knowing what lies ahead in your life and all the amazing changes that are in store for our world. This past week, I found an unread magazine in a kitchen cupboard and glanced briefly at the date, noticing it was from June. I got absorbed in a fascinating feature article about the history and future of Calgary before something suddenly seemed amiss and I checked the publication date again. As it turned out, I hadn’t looked closely enough, because the magazine actually turned out to be from June of 2012. Oops.

Unless you’ve been hiding out in a bomb shelter the last month, you know what kind of unprecedented maelstrom the great city of Calgary has been going through lately. Massive flooding, extended blackouts, a state of emergency and derailed freight trains are just some of the tests the residents have been put through. Somehow, they’ve still managed to pull it all together in time to hold their signature Calgary Stampede, which is a massive tribute to its citizens’ fortitude, resilience and positive attitude.

Of course, reading an article from last year, it was like none of this had ever happened – because, of course, it hadn’t yet. If that same article was written about the city today, it makes you wonder how differently it would have turned out.

Similarly, another article was about the financial and artistic success of Montreal’s Cirque du Soleil, the worldwide billion-dollar entertainment juggernaut. How things have changed in the 12 months since that article came out. In January, the company announced the layoff of 400 employees, close to ten percent of its workforce. On top of that, a veteran Cirque acrobat died during a performance in Las Vegas at the end of last month, the first fatality in the troupe’s nearly 30-year history.

Again, with those earth-shattering changes taking place, how would a story about the Cirque du Soleil be different if it was being written today, rather than being composed a year ago?

All of this made me ponder the precious, unpredictable nature of our lives. Day after day, we go about our business without giving much thought to what could possibly lie ahead. I am guiltier of this than just about anybody. Routinely, I take for granted my family, my friends, my health and, indeed, my very life. And I bet that applies to many people.

When our anniversary comes up each year, we might thank our spouse for being there for us. If our boss gives us a pat on the back or a small raise, it reminds us that we’re lucky to have a job. When Canada Day passes each year, we think about how fortunate we are to live in a free country with universal health care and a decent standard of living. But, for so many of our days we’re content to let life wash over us, without stopping to consider how quickly it could all be gone.

Not to be too dramatic, but everything we have, every single person we hold close to our hearts, all the tiny things that make our lives what they are could be gone in an instant. Boom. That’s it.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Although she may not be the world’s most eloquent philosopher, Oprah Winfrey was definitely on to something when she said those words.

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big or wanting more, but it’s easy to get caught up in chasing rainbows – when many of those rainbows are already yours to enjoy. Right here. Right now. People used to say, “Take time to stop and smell the roses.” There are likely hundreds of other quotes and song lyrics and philosophies that restate the same premise in a different way.

However you want to say it, absolutely no one knows what’s around the next corner, let alone what the future holds down its long, winding, unpredictable path. All we can know for sure is what we have at this very moment – and how important it is to take every tiny morsel of our lives and celebrate it for all it’s worth. The party starts now.

 

You Know You’re Getting Old When…

Last weekend, I had the weird déjà vu experience of interviewing an Emergency Services worker who my wife used to babysit many, many years ago when he was just a toddler. It made me realize that not only am I not getting any younger but, consequently, I also happen to be getting a whole lot older. It’s funny how that works, isn’t it?

In any case, that encounter, plus a whole lot of other recent experiences made me start thinking about all those subtle signs that start cropping up at some point in your life and make you realize that, hey, you’re definitely on that slippery slope into agedness.

One sure sign was when my eldest daughter and her boyfriend recently made an offer to purchase their first home. It took me back to when my wife and I were doing the same thing 25+ years ago and considered ourselves to be full-fledged adults. When your kids are suddenly going through the identical experience, it makes you appreciate exactly how far along you are on the journey of life.

Of course, there are plenty of other road signs that you’re getting old. Here are just a few:

1)    The music you listened to when you were growing up is now so old it no longer even qualifies to be played on the oldies radio stations.

2)    Not only are you constantly complaining about your aches and pains, your children have started to complain regularly about theirs, as well.

3)    The old expressions you use are so out of date you constantly have to explain them  – and they don’t even appear in the dictionary anymore. Instead, they’ve now become the conversational equivalent of cave drawings.

4)    When you watch “old celebrities” on television or read about them in magazines, you suddenly realize they’re the same age as you are. And, frankly, none of them are looking all that great anymore.

5)    Virtually all the technology you grew up with (tape recorders, VHS machines, CD players, home phones, etc.) is now obsolete. Miraculously, the one technology you figured was gone forever, vinyl records, inexplicably lives on.

6)    Inevitably, you have to compare the prices of everything you buy with what it cost when you were growing up. That’s followed by a sentence that goes something like, “Why, when I was a kid you could buy…”

7)    You enjoy playing the “Dead or Alive” game with all the movie stars, singers, and sports figures you grew up with. Not surprisingly, every time you play, you end up with more on the dead list than the live one.

8)    Crooked, inept politicians from years past start to look more and more attractive compared with some of the choices available today. Richard M. Nixon, come back! All is forgiven.

9)    You constantly need to make a list of where you put the list of the lists of all the things you’re supposed to do today. After much searching, you’re able to locate that list in the back of the refrigerator where you mistakenly put it. Now you start wondering that – if the list is in the fridge – where the heck is that jug of milk you were supposed to put away? Once that’s all sorted out, you begin the search for your reading glasses, which are, obviously, required to read the list of the list of the list. Then you forget what you were looking for in the first place and decide to take a nap on the couch. Repeat as necessary.

10) The hapless Toronto Maple Leafs of your youth are now perennial Stanley Cup Champions. Hmmm. Apparently, I’m not as ancient as I thought.

There’s a silly old expression that goes something like, “You’re only as old as you feel.” In case you’ve already forgotten, check out #3 on the list above and see why it’s an old expression. Who actually uses that phrase when, instead, you start feeling old pretty much all the time and the first question you pose to your spouse each morning is, “How’d you sleep last night?”

In any case, if you’re feeling old today, take solace. You’re not alone. It happens to all of us and it’s pretty much unavoidable, no matter how much you fight it. So, to everyone reading this, here’s to getting old. Cheers! May you enjoy every moment of it. Now, with all due respect, “Get off my lawn.”

The Dark Side Of The Web

A police officer I spoke with several months ago compared the Internet to a dark alley where every criminal in the world is lurking, just waiting for you to enter. Think about that for a second. It’s true. Every scam artist, sexual predator, thief and other scoundrel you can imagine has you and every other potential victim right at his or her fingertips online. And they’re all just waiting for you to slip up in some way to take advantage of the opportunity to wreak havoc on your life.

The officer’s warning came back to me this past week when I read about the devastating circumstances of 32-year old Tim Bosma, who was murdered after two men answered an ad for a pick-up truck Bosma was selling online. Allegedly, the people involved stole the truck and burned the body of the churchgoing, married father of a two-year old girl to cover their tracks. The bizarre circumstances of the crime captivated Canadians – and also made us question the safety of online advertising sites.

If people have problems with legitimate sites run by honest people, such as those used by Bosma, just imagine the problems created by the millions of questionable sites and the unscrupulous people who operate them. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received almost 300,000 reports from fraud victims last year totaling over a half-a-billion dollars. Obviously, that’s just a tiny fraction of the worldwide scams that are being run.

After reading Will Ferguson’s frightening novel “419” last year, I realized what a scary business this can be. Although it’s a fictional book, the title refers to a section of the Nigerian Criminal Code that deals with fraud. If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, think of the hundreds of emails you’ve received from “Nigerian princes” and you’ll know what I mean. It’s hard to believe people are actually taken in by these scams, but the fact that they’re popular in dozens of countries and “employ” thousands of people worldwide must mean they’re also pretty effective.

On top of the hundreds of millions of dollars involved every year, they’ve also led to kidnapping and murder, along with suicides by the victims whose lives have been ruined.

If scams don’t scare you, what about cyberstalking and cyberbullying? One of the most worrisome parts of the Internet is its anonymity. It’s been well-documented that people say and do things on the web that they wouldn’t dream of doing in person. During a recent session on cyberbullying, I learned how easy it is to decipher someone’s identity through chat rooms, Facebook and other social media. Yet, time and time again, people let down their guards online and give out personal details to virtual strangers whose real identities they have no clue about.

In one horrifying incident, a male teenager befriended someone online who he thought was a friend his own age and shared the same passions and sensibilities. The boy revealed personal details of his life he thought would remain private. Suddenly, the “friend” turned against him and revealed all those details to his friends and family, turning him into a social pariah. The initial damage that was done and the bullying that followed led the youngster to commit suicide, bringing a tragic conclusion to what had begun as an innocent friendship.

If you’re appalled by this story, wait until you hear the ending. It turns out the cyber-friend who the boy thought was someone in his own age group was actually an ex-friend of his mother. When the relationship between his mother and the friend ended, the spurned acquaintance decided to get back at the mother by exacting revenge on her former friend’s son. The story is almost as unfathomable as it is heartbreaking, but provides a valuable lesson for everyone who surfs the net.

When my kids first started going online, I’d often tell them, “Never believe anything you read on the Internet.” They thought I was just being facetious but, as they’ve grown older, they’ve realized what I meant. The message I tried to impart was, simply, to question everything, to assume that there may be an ulterior motive or unsavoury purpose for every online offer, invitation or solicitation you receive.

Recently, one online shopping network that offered unbeatable prices on high-ticket items received some bad attention in the media. People were buying up jewelry, designer clothing, and other outrageously expensive products for pennies on the dollar and were surprised when the items they received were actually cheap knockoffs worth exactly what they’d paid for them.

In the article I read on the scam, the vast majority of commenters said the problem wasn’t with the sellers but with the buyers, who believed naively that someone would be selling $2,000 diamond rings for $25.00. Although the expression “You get what you pay for” may be an old one, it still applies quite nicely to what’s happening more and more frequently online today.

Perhaps it may seem like pretty cynical advice but, honestly, it makes good sense to trust no one, question everything and expect the worst when you’re dealing with people you don’t know online. After all, if you’re going to enter that dark alley where all the criminals in the world hang out, it makes sense to be well-armed before you wander in. Beware.

 

Tax This! Tax That!

A reader sent me an interesting article last week about a new report from the Fraser Institute that says, “Canadian families are spending more money on taxes than on food, clothing and shelter combined.” The Yahoo story says that almost 43% of the average family’s income went to pay federal, provincial and municipal taxes, while less than 37% went to the other three necessities.

Furthermore, it says that Canadians’ tax bills have gone up almost 1800% since 1961 – and that the balance between taxes and necessities has changed dramatically in the last half century. They claim that food, clothing and shelter accounted for 56.5% of the family budget back in 1961 and taxes took up just 33.5%.

The conservative think-tank, which often comes up with such alarming statistics, also says their numbers don’t include government deficits, which aren’t covered by taxes today but will have to be paid off somewhere down the road.

Scary stuff, for sure. And it makes it sound like life was pretty rosy back in the early 1960’s.

But, hold on for a second. Before you get your bags packed for a trip in the “wayback machine,” you might want to check out a counterpoint offered by the left-wing Broadbent Institute, run by former federal NDP leader Ed Broadbent. In rebutting the Fraser Institute’s claims about the exploding 1800% tax bill, Broadbent says, “While that’s a clear exaggeration that ignores inflation, what is astounding is that their numbers don’t even remotely hold up.”

Broadbent says the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development indicates Canadian tax bills are a bit over 38% of GDP and that, rather than increasing, the percentage has actually dropped from a high of about 45% back in the late 1990’s.

As well as failing to take inflation into account, Broadbent also reminds us how different life was back in 1960 when there was no universal health care, no Canada Pension Plan and paltry Old Age Security benefits. Additionally, his report says access to post-secondary education was mostly limited to the rich and there was a massive wage gap between men and women.

Broadbent also questions why it’s considered a good thing that 56.5% of a family’s income went to basic necessities back in 1961, while it’s only 37% now. He makes a good point. When you add up the totals, 90% of income went to taxes and necessities in the old days, while only 80% is allocated now. That leaves a larger chunk of disposable income for the average household, on top of the fact that we have universal health care, a national pension system, more security for seniors, better access to education and a host of other social services already being factored into our tax dollars.

The Broadbent Institute concludes, “The fundamental point is that we are much richer as a society than we were back in 1961. Not only do we have more to spend on consumer goods today, we also choose to spend a bigger slice of the pie on social programs, education, and public services.”

Looking at the past through rose-coloured glasses or bending numbers to make things look better is nothing new. It happens all the time. When people talk about “the good old days,” they’re often just remembering the positive points about the past, while conveniently sweeping all those pesky negatives under the rug.

Life today certainly isn’t perfect. If you want to, it’s not too difficult to compile a massive list of all the bad things about the world we live in. But, if you honestly believe you’d be better off living back a half-century ago or in some other long-past era, maybe you should take the time to start an alternate list of how much better life is today. Once you do, chances are you’ll cancel your plans for that trip in the wayback machine. As Broadbent says, “The Fraser Institute can stay in 1961 if they want… but I’m happier to be living in 2013.”