OK - you got out, and I understand that probably took a lot of hard work. However, my bet is that you used government services, like education, that were much better resourced (not just budgets but attitudes, equipment, etc.) than they are now. As for personal responsibility, people give up after trying and failing to get ahead. Some of the poor people I knew were third or fourth generation poor, worked their butts off, but were always struggling. It didn't help that they were minorities. For every person like you, there are many more mere mortals seemingly locked into poverty, and they suffer for it in spite of working. The US made good progress on the 'war on poverty' until rich selfish folk decided it cost too much. Now we have the war on drugs, the war on terror, etc. but the simple fact is that more people die early from poverty than from drugs or terrorism but nobody seems to give a ****. Take a look at what poverty means now in the US: link.