Things were better before we went “no frills”.

Don’t tell our grandkids this, but we grew up in a much better time. If you’re my age and you’re a Canadian, you’ll remember some of these times.

You’ll remember that before the first world started going “no frills”,  airlines provided full meals, even on flights as short as a couple of hours. And on shorter flights, the snacks were much better. A kid would be handed a toy airplane; an older kid, a deck of cards. And you didn’t have to pay extra to check your bags, even if you had more than one. People weren’t dodging luggage in the cabin. There were nice, wide seats. There were more attendants wandering about trying to ensure your comfort. Flying was a nice experience, even if you didn’t fly business class. Not any more.

If you walked into a department store, in every department, you were greeted promptly by a sales clerk, who would help you find what you wanted. You could find a young man to help your to the car with your bags. Shopping was kind of a nice experience. Not any more.

You’ll remember schools being more personable places. There were more secretaries. You could phone the school and talk to a human being. If a kid were sick or in need of help, there was a school nurse. There were truant officers patrolling neighbourhoods to catch kids skipping. There were alternate education programs for the kids who just didn’t fit into the regular school setting. Every high school had an automotive shop, a wood shop, a metal shop, and a teaching kitchen. Students could take “typing”, and become very proficient on a keyboard. Not any more.

Hospitals had more nurses. A woman who had given birth could recline for a few days afterward until her body recovered and started settling into motherhood, and she and her baby could be together intimately without anything else to do but get to know each other. Just for a few days. Not any more.

Except in rural communities, mail used to be delivered to everyone’s door. And where it wasn’t delivered, there was a post office where a real human being worked. She could sell you stamps, help you post a parcel, or just say hi to you while you emptied your box. It was nice. Not any more.

There was far better service in many sectors. Doctors would make emergency calls to your house. Milk could be delivered to your door. There were no exasperating automated phone cues when you made a telephone enquiry about a bill or service. A human being would talk to you and help direct your call. Not any more.

Municipal gardens and school grounds were beautifully maintained. Parks provided free summer recreation programs for kids. The boulevard was neatly maincured. Litter was picked up off the ground. Roads were well maintained, snow cleared. Not any more.

We’ve gone “no-frills”. And that, more than anything, has killed jobs. And who benefits? Shareholders in large corporations, and the already rich who can pay lower taxes. And who loses? The rest of us.

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