Inbox — Feb. 22, 2012

Letters to the Editor

The Band Plays On
I wish to thank Joe Sonka for his balanced reporting in his article “The not-so-merry orchestra” (LEO Weekly, Feb. 15), but I would also like to respond to some of the Louisville Orchestra musicians’ implications printed in that article regarding the motives of our ensemble. I, too, am a highly skilled and trained musician who holds two degrees in classical music performance, though I have since embarked upon a different career path. Several of the players in our ensemble are also former professionals, including some former LO members and substitutes. While I cannot speak on behalf of Kentucky Opera, David Roth or the members of our ensemble individually or collectively, I believe it would be fair and accurate to say that most of the players have decided to participate in this production out of a sense of devotion and service to the Kentucky Opera audience and our community as a whole.

I take offense to the LO musicians’ suggestion that we have somehow been duped or are unaware of the circumstances. For my part, I did not make my decision without thoughtful deliberation and a heavy-hearted consideration of all the facts. I and many of the musicians of the ensemble agree that the best solution would have been for local union players to return to work so that we could enjoy “The Merry Widow” from the audience. I do not consider our ensemble to be a replacement for professional musicians, but the professionals have rejected all offers to perform, even on the terms published by their own union for opera performances.

My motivation for performing in the Kentucky Opera’s production of “The Merry Widow” has nothing to do with money. All of the players in our ensemble entered into this endeavor with the understanding that we may not be compensated for our services, and many of us are dedicating this time in addition to full-time jobs. The fact that the Kentucky Opera has offered stipends commensurate with the local union published rates for opera services should be interpreted as a sign of its willingness to pay fair and equitable wages to its performers. Finally, as a point of correction to Ms. Tichenor’s assertion, the Kentucky Opera Association and the Louisville Orchestra Inc. are two entirely separate business entities, with independent boards, leadership, missions and funding sources. The staff positions they share are principally those of receptionists, accounting, marketing and PR administrators, and box office. This information can be verified easily by anyone who wishes to, and obfuscations to the contrary have been repeated so often as to appear deliberate.
Jason Hart Raff, conductor, “The Merry Widow”

Fruit of Belabor
I would like to respond to Lindsay Gargotto’s Feb. 8 letter in LEO Weekly. Democracy doesn’t promise liberty. Nothing about democracy prevents majoritarian tyranny. Cruelty and theft by vote is not unknown in democratic history. The institutions of representative government, limited in power, are the best hope for maintaining liberty.

Free-market capitalism is not a system. It is what happens when people are free to do what they wish with what is theirs. When people are free to choose what they will buy and sell and with whom, competition occurs. Competition is the result of choice. This morning, corn farmers, dairy farmers, farm machine makers, oil producers and many others cooperated to put corn flakes and milk in my bowl. Cooperation is another result of choice. And no one colluded to hold down wages so that I could afford cornflakes.

Crony capitalism, where industrial policies reward corporations and individuals who have friends in government, where losses are socialized and profits are private, that is a system. It is nationalist socialism.

None of us, no matter how poor, are entitled to the fruit of another’s labor. None of us are entitled to housing, shoes, shirts or cornflakes. We are only entitled to liberty. Those who would create “rights” to housing, clothing and food would make us all masters and slaves to each other, demanding from some and fulfilling the demands of others. Give me none of this. Give me liberty!
Rich Mills, Shawnee