I agree with those musicians who argue that cutting the average salary of a DSO player from $104,650 to $75,000 will transform the orchestra beyond recognition. The DSO will inevitably lose its best members and won't be able to attract replacements of comparable quality. But the players' decision to respond to the orchestra's financial crisis by voting to strike is a classic symptom of the cultural-entitlement mentality—the assumption that artists ought to be paid what they "deserve" to make, even when the community in which they live and work places a significantly lower value on their services. Any economist can tell you what has happened: In Detroit, being a classical instrumentalist is no longer an upper-middle-class job.
We like to think that great symphony orchestras and museums are permanent monuments to the enduring power and significance of art, but in the 21st century, we are going to learn the hard way that this is simply not true. Great high-culture institutions reflect the fundamental character of a city. In America, most of these institutions were founded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as manifestations of civic pride. But when a city's character undergoes profound changes, as has happened in Detroit, the institutions are bound to reflect that transformation. One way or another, they'll follow the money—and if there is no money to follow, they'll go out of business. The sad truth is that the Detroit Symphony is no more "permanent" than . . . well, your average auto company.
The liberal counterpoint to Teachout's laissez-faire argument might be something along the lines of, "well, in Europe, this is why the government steps in to support high culture institutions that couldn't survive otherwise." But I've never been particularly comfortable with that approach, and at any rate, in addition to limited direct support the federal government already subsidizes high-cult institutions by way of a tax code that makes no distinction between charitable giving to a homeless shelter and to the Metropolitan Opera. Classical music enthusiasts should count themselves fortunte for that; I'm not sure it would survive a popular vote!