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Craig Daliessio isn’t by nature an angry man. But recent events have brought him to the end of his rope.
“The past five years have just worn me down,” he told me over the phone. He couldn’t help but write about his experience.
After years of economic struggle, the loss of his home, and failure to find steady employment, Daliessio shared “An Open Letter to Barack Obama,” which is spreading quickly on blogs and social media.
Mr. President, three days ago I was informed that a job I had been offered only a week before, has been withdrawn. The company decided to freeze hiring for the foreseeable future. Part of their reasoning was the rising cost of healthcare, making it unaffordable for them to provide. This unaffordable-ness came as a result of your “Affordable Care Act.”
Five years ago I might have smiled at the irony of those words. But I’m not smiling.
In the letter, Daliessio describes his life since December 2008 when he lost his career as a mortgage broker. The real estate collapse hit the industry hard. Workers without political connections bore most of the pain.
Soon he lost his Nashville-area dream house, but as a single dad he wanted to stay close to his daughter. Instead of fleeing to Texas, North Dakota or another conservative holdout where jobs were slightly more plentiful, he stayed in Tennessee.
Without a home, he lived in his car.
Sleeping in your car is actually against the law. It’s vagrancy and so it required me to hide my car in some tall brush behind a church in Nashville. I took showers at the County Rec Center. I ate every other day sometimes. I worked every odd job I could find and put out hundreds of resumes. To date I have put out almost 250 resumes to no avail… I kept on trying. I kept on being my daughter’s dad. I refused to let her see me broken so I hid my tears.
Instead of limiting himself to a career in his profession, Daliessio worked odd jobs and even resumed his college education through an online program. A year ago he graduated from Liberty University. He still didn’t have a home, but now he had an education. And hope.
“But no doors opened,” he said. He continued with the odd jobs, sending resumes, and sleeping in his car or a friend’s couch or a borrowed office space. “Writing became a haven,” he told me. Over the past five years, he has written and self-published four books, the most recent titled Remembering America.
Earlier this month, it appeared as if the long job search was about to bear fruit. A job offer was extended. But last week the company withdrew their offer to Daliessio due in part to Obamacare. That law requires him to sign up for a health insurance exchange, but he finally decided that enough is enough.
I will NOT be registering for that exchange. I am a man. I am a dad. I am an American. I want to pay my own way. I refuse to let others pay for something I would gladly pay for myself…
I want a job. I want to work, and pay my own way. Your job is to create an environment whereby employers can hire men and women like me. Then we can take responsibility for ourselves, and pay our own way.
I respectfully refuse your handout, sir.
Though politically conservative, Daliessio has never been a bomb-thrower. “I don't wish [Obama] ill, but I wish people would wake up,” he told me. “The country is stuck in neutral. My letter came from a place of frustration and brokenness.”
Read Daliessio’s letter and forward it to others. And let’s hope it gets to President Obama as well.
Follow Jon on Twitter at @ExJon.