Back to Main MenuCelebrationsFraud PreventionManage Your AdPlace an AdA reader named Carol Malone called earlier this month taking exception with a Air Jordan 5s critical piece I wrote about youths who hitch rides on the RTA for free. These free riders are Jordan Winterized 6 Rings often called fare jumpers, which is a polite way of calling them petty thieves.Carol’s argument was one I’ve heard before: The children are probably poor and therefore should be excused for failing to pay the fare to get to school, home, Tower City or a convenience store across town. (The Cleveland school district provides RTA passes for many of its students).I’ve always found this sort of argument no matter how well stated to be condescending. It’s an argument, however, that resonates with a surprising number of people.It’s the notion that the very poor should be held to a different standard of public behavior, a more flexible definition of morality. It is, in my opinion, one of the more damaging assaults on the concept of personal responsibility.If one accepts this logic, it quickly becomes difficult to locate the guardrails in the social order.If it’s OK for a poor kid to steal a bus ride, it’s probably OK for him to steal a loaf of bread, too, because he’s probably hungry. Lots of probablys.The proponents of “the poor are exempt” nonsense undoubtedly see the Ten Commandments as riddled with small print exceptions for the less economically well off.Carol expressed another concern, however, that is worth some discussion: Why did RTA make its much vaunted HealthLine the slick, hybrid route that Air Jordan 17s runs from downtown to the Stokes/Windermere Station in East Cleveland the only “honor line” in its system? (Correction: RTA says the Red Line has a similar pay system.) Why did it set up a bus line in which people can easily step onto the bus without paying?”Why would RTA build a line through some of the poorest neighborhoods in Cleveland and expect that children who don’t have any money, children who are living way below the poverty line, not to get on without Air Jordan 19s paying?”I like that question, not because I have a tolerance for thieves, because I don’t. I like the question because I was never clear on why the RTA bosses decided that the new line, the one that is supposed to lead to $4.3 billion in economic development along the Euclid Corridor, would be rooted in an easily exploited honor pay system.I’m not a transit guy, but I never really bought their honor pay for the sake of efficiency argument. The way the HealthLine works is that riders pay at the bus stations for fare cards. They keep the cards as proof of payment. They do not pay fares Air Jordan Fusion 4 on the bus or swipe the fare cards in magnetic readers.I put Carol’s question to state Rep. elect Bill Patmon, who also sits on the RTA board. His was the only dissenting vote in last week’s 7 1 board vote to establish a measure that would impose a $50 fine on fare jumpers who repeat the offense.”The honor system on that line was a poor piece of public policy. It was a mistake. This is not a race issue. But 67 percent of the children arrested are African Americans,” said Patmon.”I’m not in favor of anyone breaking the law. But I’m also not in favor of any public policy that creates attractive hazards or incentives to break the law.”Patmon and I occasional meet over breakfast to discuss public policy. We frequently take opposing points of view. This RTA fare jumping issue was no different. But we did find at least one patch of common ground.Patmon, who said he jumped fares as a kid in Detroit, wants to remove the incentive for kids to jump fares.