The musicians must make a counteroffer

I have been a season-ticket holder for the Minnesota Wild since their first game and a Minnesota Orchestra subscriber since 1975, and I serve on the orchestra board. I am frustrated that my two favorite winter activities are in the midst of lockouts. But at least in hockey I can take heart that the sides are talking about contract terms and that each side has presented proposals and counterproposals. In the case of the orchestra, however, two proposals have been presented to the musicians, as long ago as April, yet no counterproposal has been made.

The hockey players never demanded an independent financial analysis before making a counterproposal. They did their own work after examining the league's finances, yet had even less insight than do the musicians, who have audited financials and 1,200 pages of documents. Unless the musicians offer a counterproposal, no progress can be made. And they must recognize that the orchestra cannot survive if concert revenues only cover 22 percent of operating expenses, a significant portion of which is musician salaries.

I truly love the orchestra and its fine musicians, but if this continues I will think seriously about canceling my season tickets, ending my annual contributions and eliminating the bequest to the orchestra in my will.



Business is worried, but for what reasons?

So David Olson, president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, is more than a bit nervous as a result of Tuesday's election. He should be. Maybe it's time some of the middle-class folks in Minnesota give a reality check to him and his elite company.

He has a "plan" for the new DFL-controlled Legislature:

1)Develop talent. (Heaven forbid that employers should have to help train the people they hire.)

2)Make costs competitive. (They don't want to spend any of their money to do business -- they want to spread those costs to the rest of us.)

3)Fairer rules. (They want to compete! That means stop doing environmental reviews and stop issuing permits. Certainly they won't cut corners, will they?)

4) Innovate! (They want better outcomes and smarter results in such areas as meaningful tax and spending reforms. Let's make a list of what that means.)

At the end of his little missive, Olson states that he wants a "constructive" debate to strengthen Minnesota's economy. I'm in favor of that. He could start by not "instructing" the new legislative body. Instead, business leaders could sit down with employees and begin conversations about ways to improve lives. Used to be a time when workers and owners solved problems together. Now, it's "our way or the lockout."



'Civil unions' may be an incomplete answer

A Nov. 9 letter writer says he voted "no" on the marriage amendment because he believes that same-sex couples deserve legal protection, including financial and health protection, then in the next sentence he wonders if that can't be achieved without calling it marriage.

If that's going to be his attitude, he may as well have voted "yes." In some jurisdictions, civil unions for same-sex couples grant financial and health protection to the partners but may have restrictions regarding the guardianship of minors. That is not equal to the benefits marriage provides to mixed-sex couples. If, on the other hand, the civil-union-for-gay-couples benefits package is identical across the board to the marriage-for-heterosexual-couples benefits, including child guardianship, then "civil union" is marriage in all but name, so why not give it the name? Or at least call all justice-of-the-peace nuptials, whether gay or straight, "civil unions" and leave the concept "holy matrimony" to faith groups?

Faith groups, of course, should be allowed to decide for themselves which couples their doctrine permits them to marry.



Anyone know of a turnaround specialist?

I found the Nov. 9 Letter of the Day ("Problem-solving? Together? Start with the Postal Service") very interesting. I've gone on many times about the U.S. Postal Service and its slow death spiral (just ask my wife), wondering if anyone was going to step in and save it. I've got just the man for the job. You guessed it -- Mitt Romney. He's a turnaround specialist. It would also be a show of bipartisanship and give him the chance to help the America he so loves.


• • •

The Postal Service is bought and paid for. It belongs to the American people. It really is the family business. We should use it, first. We should consider it a resource. It has provided census support, and it could handle voting by mail for the entire country. You do not reduce service unless the owner/customers say so. The USPS is in place. It is efficient. It would be in the black were it not for congressional manipulation. Retirement was key part of an agreement of compensation for labor. You do not revise what employees already earned.



Because of an editing error, the last sentence of the Nov. 9 Letter of the Day was incorrect. It should have read: Postage will probably cost a little more, as it does in almost all other developed nations of the world.