We’ve all heard it; the typical GOP ridicule of the poor. They’re “lazy,” they’re “unmotivated.” Paul Ryan famously said not long ago that there are “generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.”
Paul Ryan, and many other conservatives, should meet James Robertson.
Robertson’s story appeared in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. Robertson lives in Detroit, but he works in Rochester Hills. Because buses don’t cover the entire route, Robertson walks eight miles each day on his way to work, and another 13 miles daily on his return home. His daily journey starts at 8 a.m., and concludes at 4 a.m. the following morning, when he arrives home after completing his shift at Schain Mold and Engineering.
Robertson has walked to work for more than ten years.
Robertson says that he has made this journey for more than a decade, after his car broke down. Why didn’t he replace the car? He says he hasn’t been able to save for one. Robertson makes $10.55 an hour, which is well above minimum wage, but is not enough for him to afford to buy a car, plus pay for the expenses of owning one.
In most metro areas, Robertson would not have to make this trek; he would have public transit to take him all the way to and from his destination. But, he says, over the past five years, bus service has been cut back. Rochester Hills offers no bus service because voters there elected not to pay for it.
A “Go Fund Me” campaign has shattered its original goal.
Robertson’s story has motivated a “Go Fund Me” campaign to buy a car for him. So far that campaign, started by a Wayne State University student, has raised almost $50,000.
Evan Leedy, who is studying computer science at Wayne State, says he was moved by Robertson’s story, and the comments online from people asking how they could help. Leedy originally set a goal of $5,000, and says that he is amazed at the outpouring of support. In addition to using the money to buy a car, Leedy wants to make sure that part of the proceeds are set aside for expenses such as insurance and maintenance.
Robertson has been offered cars by some people who read of his situation. A local car dealership has offered to give him a car. Honda North America has also offered him a car, because the car that Robertson never replaced was a Honda.
One thing that is consistently annoying about conservatives is that they often justify their world view with this simple phrase: “I know somebody who…” Those words are almost always followed by comments about how they know someone who cheats on welfare, or who collects disability but they believe is able to work, etc. But they never seem to know anyone like James Robertson. Maybe Republicans should meet him, or some of the other tens of thousands of working poor that they like to belittle and ridicule, without knowing a damned thing about them.
Click here to donate to the “Go Fund Me” campaign for James Robertson.
Here’s a video of Robertson’s incredible daily journey, via the Detroit Free Press:
Image via screen shot from the Detroit Free Press.