Worthington News

Guest column

Sports and politics are ripe for reform


Beginning another year is an excellent time for commentators much more distinguished than I to summarize what they hope will happen during the rest of 2014. This can cover matters trivial and nontrivial, plus it eliminates the need to worry about filling the entire assigned space -- just go on to the next item.

You've seen this happen often during editorial forecasting in the last few months.

A couple of the trivial items, though not to me, to begin with: first, the supposed purity of college sports, which must be protected at all costs with a plethora of rules.

I rather enjoyed the fight that broke out during the big OSU-Michigan game. Football is every bit as brutal as hockey. Put the perpetrators in a penalty box for a few minutes, then let them return and go for broke. Same thing for basketball.

But at least basketball has a predictable ending time. Football's final 10 minutes seem to take forever, while its TV dictators insist on crowding two NFL games into one Sunday afternoon, derailing the efforts of those attempting to record better programming into a flurry of button punching.

My solution is simple but improbable: eliminate time-outs during the final 10 minutes of any game that threatens to run over its scheduled time. Now is that too much ado about nothing? A better idea would be to eliminate commercial breaks, but this is not intended as a humor column.

On a much more serious note, an attempt to bring some sense to this nation's immigration mess will certainly happen when our hereto unworkable House of Representatives tries to pass comprehensive legislation to allow a pathway for 10 million immigrants, some of whom have been here for 30 years. Sensible Republican leadership is finally refusing to listen to Tea Party malcontents and seems to be acquiring enough spine to cut them back.

Recently, the newly appointed secretary of commerce pointed out to a Columbus audience that it was mind-boggling to give foreign students a top-notch scientific education, then send them home, and that immigration reform -- allowing them to stay and become entrepreneurs -- could bring 10,000 jobs, plus $1 billion increased annual income to Ohio.

Lack of farm labor to harvest specialty crops, as Mexican workers return home to accept easier jobs in an economy that is recovering at a quicker pace than ours, could soon threaten our own food supply, as replacement by domestic workers seems an impossibility.

Those who stay are starting businesses and paying taxes. For that matter, legalizing marijuana might bring enough revenue to cover the education deficit alone.

Part of the reason we may get something done in this congressional session is the imposition of true majority rule in the Senate, allowing a majority vote to shut off debate and force a vote on most appointments.

Let's hope that soon, majority votes will be allowed to pass legislation and that senators will be stopped from blocking federal appointments from their home state.

Set a time limit for consideration, say a week or a month, then vote up or down, as is now the case in certain trade agreements, to end any impasse -- including filibusters -- by majority vote.

What is really needed is nationwide revision of each state's authority to set legislative districts. Ohio is a prime example of a state tending to be politically moderate, where an elected

General Assembly that voted against accepting $13 million of federal funding for Obamacare has prohibited gay marriage, allowed concealed guns to be carried nearly everywhere and restricted reproductive rights for women. Every one of those stances has been shown by scientific polling to be disagreed with by a majority of the state's population.

Universal health care is now a fact of life, based on free enterprise principles and cooperating with private insurance companies, as outlined in what could as well be called Romneycare, developed originally by the very conservative Heritage Foundation.

This is one mainline Protestant (whose church just defrocked a minister for performing his son's wedding to another male) who applauds the selection of Pope Francis as Time magazine's (in this case) Man of the Year.

My only fear is that the pope is at least 10 years too old to do what the church needs to have done, and that like the late and very lamented John XXIII, he will not outlast the much-needed new broom.

Such issues as celibacy and the role of women need to be addressed, and soon, before too many under age 50 members (and priests) wind up getting disgusted and leave the church, or refuse financial support.

Is it too much to hope for a Supreme Leader in the age category of 60-70, not 70-80?

Pope Francis speaks of income inequality threatening the middle class. Presumably the poor are taken care of and the rich take care of themselves.

Congress refuses any action to help correct the political situation, then excoriates the president for any executive action designed to move the country forward, instead of admitting there are problems which joint efforts at compromise could help.

No final answers will be attempted. Let's all hope for the best in 2014.

Guest columnist Bill McNutt is a Worthington resident.