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Home Erin's Journal, My Articles, Personal An Open Letter to the President of the United States


An Open Letter to the President of the United States

This is a letter I wrote to the President of the United States, the day after his January 20th State of the Union Address to Congress.  I was so ticked off and upset by the general tone of the State of the Union that I felt I couldn’t hold this in.  I copied my Senators and my Representative of the area I live in.  I’m hoping ONE of them could help, that ONE of them would pay attention.
I have deleted some personal information that, frankly, is no one’s business but mine.  Other than that little amount of information, this is unchanged.  Please note, this is written out of anger and fear, frustration and sadness.  I AM sending this to everyone I know, and I’m also sending it to a few political groups and organizations.  Maybe someone will listen if I shout down enough wells.

If you want to talk to me about this, please feel free to email me.  If you wish to share this with others, please do so with my blessing.  The link to this page is http://erinsjournal.com/?p=1267

If you would like to see my response to various emails I have received on this page, please go to Feedback.

January 21, 2004

Eric Landrum
<deleted address>

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing you today to let you know about the state of some of your constituents, some of the ordinary citizens of the United States. I feel you need to understand that your plans are just not working as well as your staff is telling you they are.

I want to give you some demographic background before I start telling you what is going on from the average citizen’s perspective.

I am a 36 year old White Male, born in Illinois, raised in Tennessee and Georgia. I have lived in Louisiana, Indiana, Texas, California, Tennessee and Georgia. I am a deeply religious man.

I am married and have one daughter who is currently 11. I work in the Information Technologies industry for a mid-sized insurance company. I make $<deleted> a year after all the deductions (almost $8,000 for health insurance and taxes). While I have health insurance, we can’t afford to go to the doctor or get vitally needed prescriptions, they cost too much.

My family lives in an apartment with no hope of buying a house. We have one car, which is transportation back and forth to and from work. My wife doesn’t drive because we can’t afford to get her license renewed.

Both of us are registered voters in the 20% middle-ground that all politicians fight so hard to get since that usually ensures victory. We don’t vote based on party lines we vote our conscience. We both believe that the best person for the job should actually be empowered to do it.

I have watched you over the past three years in the White House, and while there are many things you have done that I do agree with there are a lot of things that have been done that I don’t agree with.

Mr. President, I agree that securing our nation against foreign attacks is important. There is no doubt in my mind about that. I lived in fear for two days while I waited to hear whether or not my mother and sisters were hurt or not in the attacks of 9-11, since they work just a few blocks from the Pentagon. My family and I wept and prayed as we had many friends who worked in the World Trade Center.

Mister President, it is my belief our borders are as secure as our Constitution allows them to be. You have guided us through this time, and for that I thank you. But sir, I can’t afford to feed my family. Once all my bills are paid, we have something along the lines of $150 to last for two weeks. This must cover not only food but also any other expenses we have. That’s food for my daughter at school, meals, gasoline for the car and other small everyday expenses like socks for my child, a pair of pants for me, a ribbon for my wife’s hair. Little things that aren’t as costly as a dental visit, but which means a lot to the quality of life we have.

Please note, this does not allow us to go to the doctor if something goes wrong. My wife is 16 years older than I am, and she has many chronic health issues. We all suffered through the recent bout of Influenza silently, making do with the over the counter drugs we could buy since we can’t afford the money to get flu shots. One trip to the doctor will cost me $35 out of pocket, that doesn’t include any prescriptions written. On our health plan a prescription for a generic drug is $20.00, if a non-generic prescription is written the cost increases exponentially. That’s a substantial chunk out of our budget for food. One trip to the doctor can easily destroy our ability to buy food until the next pay period. Given that the doctor wants to monitor my wife’s hypertension a minimum of every other month, her hypertension is currently running unchecked.

Mr. President, I wish we could apply for welfare to make ends meet. We are in that financial crack we don’t qualify for food stamps or medical assistance under current guidelines.

I’m in the Computer Industry. It was one of the hottest, fastest growing, highest paid industries there is. I am working at a job that I enjoy, doing what I love. Yet my company isn’t doing their part to pay me what I’m worth.

So I hear you or the staffer who is reading this saying, “so get another job”. I would love to, if there were jobs to be had. Because of the economic slow down, I haven’t been able to find one, despite searching for over a year. I honestly don’t know where you get your figures Mr. President, but here in Nashville, there are NO jobs to be had in this industry that don’t require a doctorate in computers. The few positions that do become available are for managers. Sir, I am a worker-bee. I am not a manager. I have excellent communication skills, but no formal training in managing people. I don’t want to be a manager since the world needs people to actually do the work. I continue to search, yet are no jobs to be had.

I got a call about two weeks ago. Turns out that a student loan that I took out to attend Bartending School is not paid. It was a government guaranteed student loan of $6000. The school that took it out in my name went under, indicted for fraud, while I was attending. I had assumed that the school paid the loan off. Part of the fraudulent claims the Georgia School of Bartending made were guarantees that they would find me a job. I never worked as a bartender and I never officially graduated.

I paid half of it, better than $3000 dollars and with the closure of the school and the recovery of funds from it, I believed that the Federal government had recovered the debt and there was no further action needed on my part.

Mr. President, that was over 15 years ago. Apparently, I still owe this money, and now I am told this bill is $18,000 with penalties, interest and fees.

While I MAY be able to pay the initial remaining balance of $3000 at $136.00 per month, the best arrangement I was able to make, that will take 23 months. The additional $15,000 is an impossible figure since I am told that the balance total will be due in full by January of next year. It would be nice if someone could explain this to the Department of Education I have suffered enough and paid the loan back.

I have seriously considered reenlisting in the Army. Yes, sir, I am an Honorably Discharged Army Private E-2 with a specialty in Personnel Administration. I could go back in but would rather not. I researched the financial benefits currently available in the Army and was horrified to find out that 80% of military families ARE on food stamps and welfare, that the serviceman’s pay does not cover normal living expenses.

Sir, I am not uneducated or untrained, so I don’t need training in a job, I need a job that pays all the bills, buys food, pays for shelter for my family and I, and leaves enough left over so that I can pay for medical expenses and buy my daughter a flute.

Mr. President, my daughter is a gifted flutist. She has taken a year of school band instruction, and she can make music her flute sound wonderful. We recently got a copy of “Banish Misfortune”, a difficult flute piece that many adult flutists don’t play because it is so very hard. She learned it in one week, practicing occasionally, and has it note-perfect.

Here is my problem. She is using a school flute, and therefore at school end she will be unable to practice this summer. She deserves private lessons; she deserves a chance to succeed in something she loves. Mister President, how do I pay for this? Can you tell me? I have no credit cards, no bank accounts because I can’t afford them and the outstanding loan on my credit report prevents anyone from giving me credit. If we don’t have the cash for something we don’t buy it. Her teachers and critics say that she could make a profession of playing the flute. Also according to her teacher and professionals we have talked to, the flute that is appropriate for her that she will be able to use throughout her college career is more than $1400 dollars.

Mr. President, I can’t manage to save $5 to go rent a video at the end of the pay period. How am I supposed to save up $1400 for this flute in any reasonable amount of time?

Speaking of her school; my daughter is being shipped 25 miles away to middle school instead of a neighborhood school we are actually in the district for which is less than 2 miles from our home. This is done for racial balance. She is picked up at 8:15 am by the bus and returned at 4:30 pm. This doesn’t leave her much time to take care of the homework she’s assigned before she goes to bed.

This school is typical of the Metro Nashville system. Because my family doesn’t believe in quitting, we have chosen to fight within the system to improve the education all the children receive. It is why we haven’t applied to a magnet school for her, we believe there shouldn’t be a need for them, that all schools should be able to enrich and accelerate and aid students on an individual basis. Both my wife and I are volunteering at her school, trying to help.

The last set of test scores for <deleted> Middle School listed the school as failing. They had improved from the previous year but it is a school of shell-shocked teachers who have “bunker mentalities” and we need help. Not in three years, not by closing or even threatening to close the school. Our Superintendent of Schools is on the record as saying, “By the time that happens, it will be someone else’s problem”, meaning that he doesn’t care. What a horrible thing to say.

I’m terrified that my daughter WILL be left behind simply because of inertia of a system that is geared to the lowest common denominator. A system that has no time to deal with a child as an individual if they are not a discipline problem, not in need of special education.

She just tested at Freshman College level in reading and comprehension but that’s directly attributable to the fact that we enrich her life with language and vocabulary, not because the school has done anything about it. They are content to let her sit and not fulfill her potential because she is not a troublemaker. The prevailing American attitude is that smart kids don’t need attention; they can do it on their own. To me that is criminal.

In my view, with No Child Left Behind under funded it’s preparing my daughter for an exciting career of nothing. But, at least she can play the flute that I can’t afford to buy her.

My wife is unemployed even though she is a fully qualified Administrative Assistant. She’s not showing up on your reports as “unemployed” because she has given up on looking for another job. I’m taking care of her, that’s a man’s job. How do I keep doing my job when economically I am drowning?

Mr. President, I understand about the terrorists and I appreciate your views regarding what is needed to protecting us from them. I’m a LOT more concerned with ensuring my family’s survival next month. So far, nothing I have seen shows me any indication that things will be better in the remainder of 2004 or into 2005.

Truthfully, all I see is propaganda coming out of Washington, telling me how I’m supposed to be grateful for my improved lot in life, and I don’t see how I’m improved from where I was five years ago. I’m five years older, with fewer prospects, fewer available jobs and options, and no cushion to fall back on. I’m supposed to be saving 1/3 of my income, but it’s a miracle if I have $10 left at the end of the pay period. Sixty years ago, that was enough, but these days it’s not.

I know some staffer is going to see this and you won’t but I am hoping that they will at least distill it for you to hear, telling you about the “average American” that you keep trying to tell is so lucky. I’m not lucky. I’m barely surviving. I need help and I need it now. Make some real changes SOON, not just cosmetic changes that won’t affect me for 20 years or more. Give me SOME sort of help. There are millions of people like me who desperately need REAL relief, not more propaganda.

In fact, when it got out in my office that I was writing this to you, everyone in here, including my boss, wanted me to put their names on this letter as well, since we are ALL in the same exact boat.

So, from all of us here at <deleted> Technical Services Department,

Please read this and understand that we need to see some kind of improvement in the economy, in the job market, in the schools and in healthcare. All your plans so far have not succeeded, and in fact, they are looking like failures to us.


<deleted signature>

Eric Landrum
MIS Technician
<deleted contact information>

cc Senator Bill Frist,
Senator Lamar Alexander,
Representative Jim Cooper

Originally posted 2015-10-27 20:21:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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