Update on RYO stores fighting Special Interest - A letter to President Obama
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Hello Eeryone: I am posting a letter to President Obama. Can anyone help me get this letter in his hands? My President cares about me and if he could be informed of my existence and my delimma - I believe he would help me.
Dear Mr. President:
I am a small business woman who desperately needs your help.
Let me start by saying I believe in you. I equate you and The First Family with the Kennedy family’s mentality of caring for the American people. You MUST win in November! My country NEEDS you – even the “tea party” needs you – they just don’t know it.
I need you to “stand with me” now, as I am standing with you. In the scheme of your job, my dilemma may appear to be small. But, my dilemma does affect 10,000+/- jobs across the country. A portion of these jobs are in the swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida; states you need to win in November. Stand with small business and influence these blue-collar voters. You PROMISED me that you would stand with the people. You PROMISED me that you are against Big-Business/Special-interest groups that buys votes and determines policy in your administration. You promised me……..
This is my dilemma:
I have been on this earth for 63 years. I am a single woman. I had an American-dream job for around 30 years as a mainframe computer- operator. In 2009, my co-workers and I lost our jobs. There went middle-class living. Because my skills are now obsolete, what could I do? My first thought was go back to school, because education is the road to upper and middle class. But, at my age, training and then a complete career change was not possible.
My niece found a Roll Your Own (RYO) shop that was booming. This store was full of customers buying a legal product, tobacco. This was not your typical tobacco store – customers stood in front of large machines and created their own cigarettes. And, their own creation cost roughly 1/2 the price of those manufactured by tobacco companies.
This was a new American business concept. An American initiative! An American job creator. The machines were manufactured right here in the United States… in Ohio. Retail stores were opening up all over the country. US Vendors were supplying products. Here was a way for me to help myself – I could “create a job for myself”. I could create jobs for other people. Maybe, with enough hard work, I could get back into the middle-class again. Maybe, I wouldn’t be old and poor after all!
I choose to take a chance and one of the 1,500 retail stores is mine. I gathered all my resources; my partners did the same, borrowed $50,000 and created myself & my partners’ jobs, on a shoe-string budget. I hired employees. I bought two of the big-red machines. I bought inventory. My business has been operating since 10/13/2010. I have 9 employees, plus 2 owners. My customer base is +/- 3000 customers. My customers are those among us that are exercising their right of free choice. The right to purchase and use a legal product – tobacco. The right not to have their purchase power limited due to cartel control of the tobacco industry. We made a profit in the first year of business.
On Friday, 07/06/2012 at 17:55 ET, I had to unplug our 2 machines, drastically limiting options for our customers and cutting our profits dramatically. Mr. President, when you signed Section 100122 of the Highway Bill, I was redefined… from retail to manufacturing. An American business concept. An American initiative! An American job creator. It all stopped…….….just stopped.
How do I keep my store from going under? Who do I lay off? ? How many in my store most go? My heart is heavy with sadness for these hard working Americans. Not one of my employees deserve to lose their job.
Mr. President, if my store goes under, I will lose my home since the store is my only source of income. Another foreclosure to add to the statistics – my partner is in the same boat as I am. I will no longer be able to help my handicapped sister and brother-in-law. Another foreclosure.
My loss is not good news for you. The 80,000 job gain you announced Friday, 07/06/2012 is not accurate. Mr. President, the moment you signed Section 100122 of the Highway Bill - 10,000 jobs were jeopardized. 10,000 jobs! 10,000 American citizens that were employed since you took office! And, what about the ripple effect – now, how many are affected? In any other situation, this would have been “headline news”. But, the tobacco cartels dominated “the spin” and nothing was said about this group of Americans. 10,000 jobs, Mr. President. Small Business owners losing everything. The last thing our country needs is the lost of even ONE job. My country can’t afford the loss of ONE small business, let alone the closure of 1,500 retail stores, and the closure of the manufacturing plant in Ohio. And, what about the ripple effect – now, how many supporting businesses will lose income? What about the businesses that are making more sales because the consumers in our communities have more money to spend? Talk about a stimulus!!!!
Mr. President, Big Tobacco “convinced” Congress that RYO stores are not paying proper taxes. They say we found a loop-hole for our RYO industry. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our customers were exercising their Congress-granted right to “Roll their own cigarettes for personal use and consumption”. Mr. President, we pay taxes. We pay taxes on the tobacco we buy; we pay Pa. sales-tax, we pay payroll taxes, we pay income taxes, and don’t forget local taxes. The true intent behind Big Tobacco’s motivation is to put the RYO stores out of business. It comes down to the fact, we are taking a tiny percentage of their customers and they do not want to share. The tobacco business is a monopoly, and competition is not encouraged. They used Congress and they used you to eradicate the RYO industry.
Mr. President, the moment you signed Section 100122 of the Highway Bill into law, you lost votes. Votes nationwide. Votes in the swing states. Voters sitting on the fence. Voters who may not have voted for you but wouldd have been influenced by your attention to our issue. We emailed you. We Tweeted you. We Facebooked you. We posted on your Whitehouse comments section. Remember the ripple effect. Blue-collar people in Pa., Ohio, Florida, Virginia….The very people you are trying to reach. These extra votes could make the difference in November.
Mr. President, my dilemma is also your dilemma. You pack up and leave the Whitehouse and go back home; I lose my business, my sole source of income and my home. Without your help, we could lose this battle together.
Stand with me, Mr. President. Stand with Small Business. Stand with the working people. Keep your promise you made to me.
I believe in my heart that if you understood the ramifications of Section 100122, you would not have left it in the Highway Bill.
Believe in me. I believe in you.
Help me and others like me. Help us help ourselves!
I must add one more comment: Yesterday, I laid off 4 employees. I am sick to my stomach.