The debate appears to be getting strained

It seems that the more is said on these pages about the Minnesota Orchestra situation, the farther from reality we stray. A July 11 letter writer’s suggestion that the orchestra reform itself as a cooperative is a good example, and I’m afraid his preference of Northrop Auditorium over Orchestra Hall is driven more by nostalgia than by informed listening.

He mentions the American Symphony Orchestra. That group was formed largely as a vehicle for legendary conductor Leopold Stokowski late in his career and was made up largely of New York freelance musicians. It was not intended as a full-time orchestra, and never was. The history of other cooperatives is similar.

As a former Minnesota Orchestra musician who played in both Northrop and Orchestra Hall, I can tell you that no musician who played in Northrop would want to go back there. When famed conductor George Szell was asked what would improve Northrop Auditorium, he is reported to have said “a few sticks of dynamite.”

Orchestra Hall is the home of the Minnesota Orchestra, and is considered by many to be one of the world’s great halls. Additionally, as much as musicians may dislike it, they need a board and management (hopefully sympathetic to the artistic needs of both the musicians and the public).

MIKE HIPPS, Eden Prairie

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For liability purposes, this product is different

In response to the July 11 writer who is frustrated by the “slippery slope” of gun manufacturers being held responsible for the “misuse” of their products, his argument seems so very disingenuous. The letter writer fails to mention the fact that while a car, a piece of deck wood and a mountain bicycle (or any product you can name) could be used as a weapon, that is not their primary use. The primary use of a car is to get from point A to point B. The primary use of wood is to build something. The primary use of a mountain bike is to provide recreation. Gun manufacturers know that the primary use of their product is to destroy something. When it destroys human life, gun manufacturers should in some measure be held responsible.

MARIANN BENTZ, Minneapolis

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Regarding guns and capital punishment:

• 50: The number of states that have adopted some form of concealed carry of guns.

• 27: The number of states that have adopted “Stand Your Ground” legislation.

• 18: The number of states that have no death penalty.

Does it not seem odd that a person in some states can rape and strangle a victim and only go to prison, while in other states a neighbor who threatens to punch you on the nose and carries out that threat can be put to death without even a trial?

What kind of society have we become, and what comes next?


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Most offenses were not acts of violence

I read the July 10 letter about ex-felons and was wondering how the writer, a veteran policeman and detective, knows so little about the character of felons in the United States. The majority of felons are convicted of alcohol or drug offenses — not murder and rape. In fact, in 2011, in Minnesota, only 16.5 percent of felons committed a violent crime.

I am a felon and addict, convicted of prescription fraud. As a result of my convictions, I have served substantial jail time. That and probation was supposed to be my sentence. But the truth is, I am serving a life sentence. I have a Ph.D. in economics, and I work as a cashier. I have been clean for five years and was recently discharged from probation. I am unable to get a job in my field. I have gone to interview after interview and have been told that I did not get the job solely because of my nonviolent criminal background.

I spent a total of 15 months in Hennepin County jail. Granted, I am a female, but I met very few (less than 5 percent) violent offenders. Pretty much everyone I had contact with, on the other hand, suffered from the disease of addiction.

Recidivism is high, yes. But is this a result of the inability of felons to support themselves legitimately and the scourge of addiction, or as the letter writer seems to think, a criminal nature?


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Opponents present taxes as a bogeyman

A letter writer who criticized Jay Kiedrowski’s July 9 article on Minnesota’s competitiveness implied economic ideas on cutting taxes but showed little or no evidence. Minnesota’s growth rate is higher than Wisconsin’s, a state that is cutting taxes. It is also higher than South Dakota, a low-tax state.

Just what is the anecdotal story about wealthy Minnesotans fleeing our winters to avoid taxes have to do with our competitiveness anyway? Actually, the national trend is to give tax breaks, loans and reduced regulations to large corporations, banks, investment houses, oil companies, etc. Minnesota has also helped businesses with tax breaks. Some will call this “corporate socialism,” but I will not argue about socialism, as our country is not close to any real form of socialism.

What I will say is that Minnesota and the United States grew much faster in the 1990s, when we had higher taxes.


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Wishes for well-being peace (and reciprocity)

To our Muslim neighbors and friends who are celebrating Ramadan, Ramadan Mubarak! May you have easy fasts and religious renewal. May there be peace and renewal for your families and friends in Somalia and other areas of strife.


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I was heartened to read that more non-Muslims are celebrating Ramadan with their Muslim friends and neighbors (Twin Cities+Region, July 11). I look forward to reading articles about how Muslims are celebrating special events with Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, Sikh, Baha’i, and other religious communities.