Can we afford it? Please, look around


The Oct. 6 editorial ("A change in key ...") asks if the nation's 15th-largest market can continue to support a Top 10 symphony orchestra. What a shocking and unfathomable question. In a couple of years, Minnesota will boast four new sports stadiums -- Gophers, Twins, Vikings, Saints -- totaling more than $1.8 billion. Yes, billion. The Minnesota Orchestra's current budget gap of $6 million is a pittance by comparison.

When I moved here in the late 1960s, Minnesota was known as "flyover land" outside the Midwest. What put the Twin Cities on the national map was not sports, but the arts, thanks to our internationally acclaimed Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Guthrie Theater, and Children's Theater, along with the Minnesota Opera, Jungle Theater, Penumbra Theatre, Illusion Theater, Ballet of the Dolls, TU Dance, Walker Arts Center, Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Russian Art Museum, and an equally magnificent remainder that would fill this newspaper page. The question posed in the editorial is a sad and disturbing commentary on our priorities and quality of life. Let the outcry begin.


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The battle for the future of the Minnesota Orchestra is obviously important to the character of the Twin Cities and the state. Saturday's editorial seemed to raise the question of whether a world-class orchestra is something Minnesota can afford to maintain. This is obviously a central question. The reality is that nothing less will survive here. Music lovers can hear recordings of world-class orchestras any time at little or no cost. Why then pay to attend a live concert? The live performance by a fine orchestra reveals layers in the music that cannot be captured and replayed on even the best home equipment. Replace that fine orchestra with an ordinary orchestra, and the recordings are just as good or better.


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Critics have hailed the Minnesota Orchestra as one of the world's best, and we have been enjoying it for many years, perhaps on the cheap. I am fed up with audiences being held hostage because management refuses to raise ticket prices to a level that would cover the orchestra's payroll. It is time for audiences to start paying their fair share or suffer the consequences.


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Prevention: The folly and the necessity


Norm Coleman calls for common sense in weighing the pros and cons of the voter ID Amendment ("Keep it easy to vote by ensuring integrity," Oct. 5. I couldn't agree more. As far as I'm concerned, the most sensible analysis of voter ID has come from Jon Stewart, who said the requirement would be like having "peanut butter ... made with huge amounts of hydrochloric acid to dissolve any potential dragon bones that may have gotten into in the manufacturing process. Will you lose some people who die by eating hydrochloric acid? Of course. But isn't it worth knowing that your peanut butter is dragon-bone-free?"


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The only time to guarantee there is no voter fraud is before the ballots go into the box. Once a vote is cast, no one knows, nor should they know, who voted for whom. The recounts in Minnesota over the last several cycles have proved nothing about whether the votes were legally cast, only that the tallies of the actual ballots were accurate.

Two states, Indiana and Georgia have held elections under new picture ID laws. In both cases they have seen a boost in voter participation overall and particularly among minorities. The conclusion seems to be the more the confidence in the system, the better the turnout.


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Still our travesty, and that must change


The United States still needs to make it a top priority to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. What makes us believe that we can justify holding people of any nationality for 10 years in prison without a trial?

This country would definitely not accept that kind of treatment of one of its own citizens in a foreign country. But we are doing this to prisoners from foreign countries held at Guantanamo -- the injustice and hypocrisy of this is clear. This is the same type of mistake that we made in World War II with Japanese-Americans.

Now is the time to act justly and completely close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. The 166 prisoners there should be brought to the U.S. mainland and given fair trials in the federal court system. Those found guilty can be sentenced to appropriate prison terms. Those found innocent can be released to countries where they are not at risk of further human-rights violations.