Randy Gardner

Randy Gardner

Possible sighting of valuable painting

To the editor:

In summer, 2017, I saw an unusual painting at a Goodwill store in east Waynesville. It was on a wooden board and not framed.

In the painting were three men. On the right was an old man seated in a chair and wearing a long stocking cap that trailed back over his head.

Standing to the left of this man was a tall, well-dressed man wearing dark clothing and a fancy black beret type hat on his head. He was holding the handle of a spoon which was in the old man’s mouth.

To his left was standing a shorter, somewhat pudgy man in a fancy costume and wearing an elaborate turban.

I was impressed with the clarity and detail of the painting but was puzzled why anyone would paint such a subject. I studied the painting for a while and showed it to my wife, commenting on the fine details in the painting. I laid the painting back down because it was not anything I would be interested in displaying.

About a year later, I saw the TV show "Strange Inheritance" where they told the story of the Rembrandt sense of smell painting being found in a basement in New Jersey and sold at a public auction to a bidder in France for around $1 million.

It was subsequently sold to the Leiden Collection in New York for around $4 million. When I saw the TV show, it dawned on me that what I saw might be the missing sense of taste painting Rembrandt did around 1624 when he was still a teenager.

This was from the series of the five senses paintings Rembrandt did on wooden boards like the painting I saw. In looking at various articles on the internet showing the paintings of the four senses that have been found, I am pretty sure that what I was looking at was the missing Rembrandt sense of taste painting.

In the fall of 2018 and winter of 2019, I visited several antique and thrift stores in the Waynesville area thinking that I might run across the painting. I described it to several people but got no leads. If anyone knows where the painting is now, hopefully not destroyed, it could be worth several million dollars.

Randy Gardner

Mills River

Unaffordable health insurance is no protection

To the editor:

An article in The Mountaineer last month quoted an insurance professional calling the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” the “best insurance product ever put on the market.”

Let’s start with the obvious and look a little deeper here. According to Forbes magazine, the premiums did decrease initially, but then increased in these areas as stated in the article: “The data allow us to break down the pre- and post-ACA changes by age, individual vs. family, and plan type. Overall, Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) premiums actually decreased 4.6 percent in the four years before the ACA reforms came into effect (that is, from 2009 to 2013), but increased 46.4 percent in the first four years under the ACA. Point-of-Service (POS) premiums decreased 14.9 percent before the ACA, and increased a whopping 66.2 percent afterward. Premiums for the more common Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans increased 15 percent in the four years before the ACA, and 66.2 percent afterward. In fact, the average premium increase for Americans increased 60 percent in the first four years of the ACA.”

In addition, in some areas, premiums jumped 105 percent. And I would ask, “This is a good deal?” Not.

Now let’s look at deductibles. According to CNN Business (not a right wing propaganda machine for sure), here the stats stated: “While costs vary widely across states and carriers, the average national prices give some insight into just how steep Obamacare premiums and deductibles can be for the non-subsidized. A 30-year-old will pay an average of $311 a month for the lowest-level bronze plan for 2017, while a 60-year-old will pay an average of $744, according to a review by Health Pocket, which analyzes insurance plans. Both rose 21 percent from this year. And the average deductible on a bronze plan will top $6,000 next year for an individual and come in at nearly $12,400 for a family.”

A family deductible of $12,400, for a non-subsidized family like most of us, is unfordable. Are you kidding me, how many of Haywood County working folks can afford a $12,400 deductible?

Translation, until you pay this, you are “not covered.” I don’t care what the general press and politicians say. When I worked for a large company, and paid for good healthcare coverage, my family deductibles were $1,600 per year. Compare that to the ACA; not even close.

What the “health care professional” failed to note is that in many cases, government intrusion into the market, and the market distortions it facilitated, is part of the problem for increased healthcare costs. Employer based, or provided, healthcare also contributed to this true market of “cost” distortion.

The limitations placed on healthcare insurance providers, in many states and federally, limit competition for services, thus driving up the cost of healthcare coverage. For instance, competition across state lines helped keep auto insurance rates lower; why not healthcare coverage? We don’t allow that nationally, at present, thanks to lobbyists and politicians of all stripes.

In short, you can listen to the national “talking points “and many plans espoused by politicians these days who emphasize that governmentally supplied health care plans are best. However, “coverage” without “access” equals no coverage at all. Unusually high premiums and deductibles make “coverage” an empty promise because many cannot “access” it.

David M. Hooten (Hooty) Maggie Valley

The last gasp: The end of a white America and its use as a political tool

To the editor:

I had skimmed articles and listened to news commentary that within our life times the United States will see whites become a minority. So I looked into all this further.

Certainly by 2060 this will be the case according to the Brookings Institute and our own Census Bureau. Their study, among others, shows that the decline of Americans who identify as white will begin by age groups.

For example in 2020 Americans under the age of 18 will largely not be white. As time goes by the shift continues upward by age group with some projections showing that white American citizens will only be 49 percent of our population by 2045.

The scientific projection by the Brookings Institute and our Census Bureau, based on data compiled in September of 2018, shows that the new statistics project that the nation will become “minority white” in 2045.

During that year, whites will comprise 49.7 percent of the population in contrast to 24.6 percent for Hispanics, 13.1 percent for blacks, 7.9 percent for Asians, and 3.8 percent for multiracial populations. (See also, William H. Frey’s latest book, “Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America.)

Is this of concern? To most of us no. Of interest, yes indeed, but not as a negative but as a curious demographic fact. A scientific statement that cannot be changed. This demography was set in motion many years ago.

Our founding fathers would be like most of us, ambivalent. They foresaw an America of many peoples, even races looking past the horror that was slavery. They believed it so much that they put it on our nation’s Great Seal, “E pluribus unum-out of many, one”.

Our country is all the better and stronger for this. None of this will hurt this nation, only make it a better place for life, liberty, and our pursuit of happiness. It is a natural evolution and inevitable.

What we see in the present day, in Trump America, is a last and dying gasp of some white Americans, around 40 percent or so, clinging to a sinking ship who refuse this demographic change.

Their reality is a white America forever and any one who thinks otherwise is un-American. The movement forward in our population is not fake and can’t be thrown aside as “fake news.” Yet they try and make it so. They are terrified.

This last gasp is really at the core of Trump republicanism, a white America that harkens back to 1950s. Those that fear all this won’t go quietly nor peacefully into the night, as we have seen white hate crimes increase caused by fear, hatred, and encouraged by our criminal President who uses this “last gasp” for his own personal and political gain.

Race has been and frankly continues to be the Achilles heel of our Republic. The demographic changes ahead could be problematic if we allow it to be. Trump republicanism wants it to be a problem so that his base can rally to him to stop what they would have us think is a decline in America’s values.

We don’t have to let it as a country however. If we vote Trump out of office he will scurry away back into his hole, while America moves forward together, all races and peoples, joined as one with “out of many, one” as our guide. America is changing as it should, as all things change, and in this case for the good.

David Crane Maggie Valley

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