We'd be better off without labels, cliches


There has been a lot of talk about the rich, their incomes and the taxes they pay or should pay. The term "their fair share" is used by politicians and -- like "middle class," "job creators" and "small business" -- it only seems to have precise meaning to the person using it. To the person hearing it they mean almost anything they or the speaker wishes it to mean.

Instead, let's call it for what it is. We are going to try and get the "rich" and the "job creators" to pay more taxes because we need the money. It's the same reason why Dillinger robbed banks: It's where the money is.


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Will a "grand bargain" be reached in time to avoid the "fiscal cliff?" Or will partisan rancor lead to "gridlock in the nation's capital?" Please, enough with the mind-numbing clichés. They are a sign of intellectual laziness, have become tiresome and, worse, they are thoroughly uninformative. Please shed some light on the issues. What are thoughtful people in Congress and the White House doing? What will failure to reach agreement actually mean? How serious is that really? Might such a failure be a blessing in disguise? Give your readers something to think about.


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They created a world that no longer exists


As I read Kevin Horrigan's commentary on white males, I couldn't help but feel sorry for us ("White males: To know us is to nearly love us," Dec. 3). I'm an old white guy. I thought of Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men" when he told Tom Cruise he would prefer that he be thanked and let him do his job. Where's the gratitude?

If self-pity is your takeaway from this election, your bubble has been hermetically sealed. The testosterone you speak of has amplified fear and greed, which has been wrapped with a Christian bow.

Old white guys created a world that favors their own, built an echo chamber to reinforce their beliefs free of facts, and constructed gated communities to keep out the 47 percent. The bubble is not sustainable. Things change outside the bubble. Women got the right to vote and think out loud. Gays exist. Blacks and other minorities are becoming less of a minority. Muslims live here. And science is answering questions believers don't like.

Reality happens.


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Board members boldly made the toughest call


I consider myself a life-long student of the art and skill of leadership, and I've focused much of my professional life on writing books and columns and speaking on the topic. I've served on the Minnesota Orchestra board for more than 35 years and am still on the board. My assessment of the orchestra's current situation: strong and wise leadership is necessary to preserve this cultural gem.

Leaders need the courage to make tough calls at pivotal moments. Our orchestra leaders faced this kind of crossroads recently when they grappled with how to manage a broken business model.

They could have chosen the path of least resistance: bandaging the broken parts together, ignoring the most challenging problems and saddling future board members with the real issues. Instead, they opted to address these difficult issues, demonstrating bold leadership. With tremendous courage, they put forward a strategic plan that contains ambitious revenue-raising actions (including renovating Orchestra Hall) as well as a contract proposal that is in the long-term best interest of the orchestra and the community it serves.

These folks are volunteers who love the orchestra. They knew their solution wouldn't win popularity contests. But sometimes leadership involves swimming against the tide in order to do what you know is right and necessary. In time, our community will appreciate the actions of these true leaders. I know I already do.


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In light of the risk of losing two superb orchestras, I propose that we consider merging the administration of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. Just think of the savings that could result with one administration, one advertising budget, one endowment to manage, one group of donors to solicit, etc. The savings would go a long way in managing the cost of musician salaries and could potentially create a viable business model that would secure the future of these two orchestral gems.


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Outrage knows no political boundaries


A Dec. 3 letter writer asks "where was the indignation and outrage and national outcry" over the attacks on U.S. consulates and embassies in Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Athens, Serbia and Yemen.

Indeed. Where was the outrage? I suggest that until we as a nation are outraged by these attacks, the terrorists behind these deadly assaults will continue to surmise that it is acceptable to continue their lethal hostilities because we as a nation simply do not care.

By the way, I am not a member of "a party of bad losers," as the letter writer suggests one needs to be in order to be outraged by the terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.