Dear Mr. President,
Early Friday morning, I received a text message from my dad confirming the news I'd been expecting since Thanksgiving: He had lost his job because his company went out of business.
His company had previously been one of the largest retail bedroom furniture companies in the entire state of Indiana. And now they are out of business.
My dad had long seen the writing on the wall. Last summer, he told me about how their business had been adversely affected because the Chinese government, in preparation for the Olympics, stopped all furniture shipments leaving China. As you probably know, over the last decade, almost all U.S. furniture production has ceased to exist because it was simply unable to compete with the cost of furniture made in China. Consequently because of the Olympics, my dad's company (and I'm sure many others) were held hostage by the Chinese government last summer.
With no time to recover from that, the economy collapsed in September. You know exactly how deeply Indiana has felt the impact. You've visited the state multiple times yourself and seen the devastation to people's lives first hand.
Yes, my dad stayed with his company until the end. He's been an employee there for 12 years. What other choice did he have? I know he's been looking for a new job for months, in hopes that he'd avoid being unemployed, but so far he's found nothing.
My dad is a college graduate and has worked hard his entire career, all of it spent in the retail industry. He's loyal, patient, great with customers, knowledgeable and has always been one of the top sales people at his various companies. He's been in management, but prefers not being the boss.
It's been great hearing you talk about expanded health care benefits for the unemployed, but I don't think your programs go far enough because they only benefit those eligible for COBRA. You see, my dad's not eligible for COBRA because his company went under. So now he's completely uninsured and that's a problem. My dad has epilepsy and asthma. I can't tell you the last time he had a seizure, but that's only because of the medicine he's taken daily for the last 40 years. How will he afford this medicine now? He's not eligible for Medicare yet because he's only 63 1/2.
In fact, because my dad is 63 1/2, who is going to hire him? Yes, we both know that equal employment laws prohibit discrimination based on age, but that's nearly impossible to prove. He looks pretty good for his age, but a cursory glance at his resume by anyone with rudimentary math skills and his age becomes obvious. In spite of it being illegal to do so, I worry that companies will realize his age and not hire him because they'll think he'll retire in a year or so and not around for the long haul.
Finally, the thing that upsets me the most about this horrible situation is that because his company no longer exists, he didn't get paid for his four weeks of paid vacation and he discovered yesterday that he wasn't getting paid for his final two weeks of work. That's 6 weeks of pay he's lost and no way to recover it.
I won't get into how big of a hit his retirement savings have taken in the last 6 months.
He's got no debt, except for his mortgage, which I'm certain he's up-to-date with. My dad's a frugal guy
Mr. President, what do I tell my dad? How do I help him? I wish your health care benefits through the stimulus package also helped people who aren't COBRA eligible. It's not my dad's fault he's not COBRA eligible. He's just a guy who's worked hard his entire adult life and through no fault of his own, finds himself completely unemployed 18 months before he's eligible for retirement.
I listened to your press conference last night, but didn't hear anything that gave me reassurance that anyone really yet "gets" the plight of Main Street and not just the loud whining from Wall Street. Please prove me wrong. Please do something to help my dad.
Little Merry Sunshine