Story Fueled Controversy; Ferguson Should Be Praised

Mission accomplished! In your effort to create controversy and discussion in our community ("New Valentine Chairman Proud to Fly Rebel Flag," Street Talk, May 10), you have succeeded in depriving the Valentine Richmond History Center of the benefit of the leadership, wisdom and generosity of an outstanding member of our city!

Whether you agree or disagree with Mary Rutherfoord and Allen Ferguson's decision to honor their heritage by displaying the "Navy Jack" (Confederate flag) outside of their home, I would hope that you would get on your knees and be thankful for all that they have given us — rich or poor, conservative or liberal, black or white, etc. Our city is a much better place due to their numerous gifts of time, energy, ideas and — oh, by the way — financial resources as well.

Fran Kay

Editor's Note: Allen Ferguson, slated to become chairman of the Valentine in July, resigned the position May 10.

Another Culprit Is TicketMaster

I found your article on the harsh realities of concert promotion quite educational ("Concert Economics," Arts & Culture, May 17), but I noticed a glaring omission. You mention concertgoers' lack of stomach for escalating ticket prices, but never mention No. 1 blame-ee, TicketMaster.

Let's see (just for example) ... Dave Matthews Band tix are bad enough at a steep $58.50 each, but then TicketMaster adds a "convenience fee" of $9-$10 each; shipping, $2.50 (apiece, to e-mail them to you, for cryin' out loud); up to $25 for Saturday delivery UPS. Parking is an extra $20 for the "premier parking" area. So my $117 (yikes!) pair of tickets turns out to be $160 plus.

That'll nicely cover my new Dave Matthews CD, some carryout pizza and a couple of DVDs to watch while I'm skipping the concert, with a hundred bucks to spare. I don't mind — it was a long way to drive anyway.

Clear Channel may be behind (or at least symptomatic of) a lot of what's wrong with music these days, but perhaps they're not the ones at fault here.

Charlie Bizzell

The Wealthy and Powerful Don't Need Defending

I'm not sure if Brian Prestwood's letter, "Don't Slight the Wealthy" (Letters, April 26), is satirical or serious, so we'll assume the latter.

Many wealthy people donate (sometimes altruistically), but some do not. With large contributions come great benefits (aside from tax breaks), such as seats on various boards of universities, historical organizations, museums and cabinets, and other positions in government to name a few. These provide the wealthy with the power to shape policy, define arts, determine historical relevance and direct education.

The wealthy (having money and connections to power) fill these seats in Congress and make laws to protect their peers' interests by lowering inheritance and capital gains taxes. They keep the minimum wage low, cut social programs and gut environmental measures for selfish, shortsighted gain. They also underfund Social Security by not being required to pay their full share. When income is above $90,000 per year, a declining percentage of income is taxed.

For example, if Mr. Rich, who is self-employed, earned $500,000 in 2005, he would pay less than 5 percent into Social Security. If he earned $1 million, he would pay just under 3.8 percent. If Ms. Workman is self-employed and earned anywhere from $400 to $90,000 in 2005, she will pay slightly over 14 percent into Social Security, (see schedule SE, self-employment tax to check for yourself). There's a ceiling on benefits, and the wealthy will pay for more than they receive if this system is changed. However, we all pay for programs that might not benefit us directly, but are our responsibility as good citizens.

Mr. Prestwood believes "the wealthy represent the fundamentals of capitalism, without which we would perish." The fundamentals of capitalism (not to mention democracy) have largely been abandoned. The wealthy who use their money for lobbyists, campaign contributions and gifts to politicians purchase government protection from the free market and generate support for their business interests (think oil, agribusiness, defense and developers).

At this critical point in our country, if business interests continue to have primacy over social and environmental concerns, we will perish, and no amount of money will save us from destruction caused by myopic money-driven policy.

Carol Buckingham


There was a typo in a caption of the OhmegaMen photo ("Native Fauna," part of Cover Story, May 17). The band members are: Michael Young, Nayson Emami and Daniel Anderson. Style regrets the error.

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