MISS: Major League Baseball has been tinkering with its rules over the last several years in an effort to maintain fan interest in the face of dipping attendance and ratings. The latest changes officials are mulling over would bring yet more teams into the playoff process, but reward mediocrity. According to a report in the New York Post earlier this week, Major League Baseball is pondering expanding the number of teams that would make it to the playoffs from the current five teams to seven, give a bye to the team with the best record in each league, and have the two other division winners take on the bottom three wild-card teams over three games. Sound complicated? It is. It would also mean that 14 of the 30 teams in the majors would make it to the playoffs. That’s almost half of them. If approved, the rules would go into effect in 2022. Major League Baseball should leave the current playoff structure alone.
MISS: While the president and his supporters have been crowing about a growing economy, most Americans have been getting a smaller slice of the pie than the richest among us. And that is not only detrimental to the United States’ long-term economic health, but to its overall stability. A report released this week by the United Nations found that ever-escalating inequality grinds down trust in democratic institutions across the world and can lead societies to fall under the spell of nativism and authoritarianism. Moreover, the report states that society’s riven by inequality “grow more slowly and are less successful at sustaining economic growth.” The report concludes that, among other things, social safety nets need to be fortified and the rights of workers strengthened. We all should remember that Henry Ford had the insight to pay his workers well, so they could purchase the products they were making.
HIT: As other states have tried to make it harder for voters to cast ballots, Pennsylvania is making it a little bit easier. The commonwealth is launching a website where voters can request mail-in ballots for the April 28 primary. Applicants must submit their name, street address, email address and phone number, and provide a driver’s license or identification card number to receive a ballot. The site can also be used to apply for an absentee ballot. According to the law signed in the fall by Gov. Tom Wolf, voters don’t need an excuse if they want to vote by mail. Taking this step could well increase participation. Studies have found that it does, particularly among younger voters and voters who turn up only sporadically. We’ll be watching with great interest.
MISS: Anyone interested in the health of our democracy should welcome efforts to make voting easier. But forcing people to vote? That’s a step too far. But a California legislator is interested in taking that step. Assemblyman Marc Levine has introduced a bill that would mandate every registered voter in California cast a ballot. His rationale? “Democracy is not a spectator sport – it requires the active participation of all its citizens.” That’s a lovely sentiment, but participation should not be forced. The First Amendment assures the freedom of speech, and that freedom includes the right not to vote. That in itself can be a statement, whether it’s dissatisfaction with candidates, or a belief that the status quo is acceptable. While many trends start in California, we hope this idea doesn’t spread beyond the confines of the Golden State.