The Poor Lack Personal Responsibility? That's Rich. A portrait of an impoverished grandmother: re-using the wax paper; running to turn out a light; skinning squirrels, deer and rabbits her husband shot. Daughter of an alcoholic father, fourth-grade education, no job. It's an image that many Americans would rather not see.
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The Poor Lack Personal Responsibility? That's Rich.

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The Poor Lack Personal Responsibility? That's Rich.

The Poor Lack Personal Responsibility? That's Rich.

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JACKI LYDEN, Host:

I've been thinking lately in light of the dim economic news about the way we view the truly poor. The first person who comes to mind is my grandmother. I can see her at her kitchen sink, reusing the wax paper, running to turn out a light, skinning squirrels, deer and rabbits her husband shot. Mabel was poor by any means you measure - alcoholic father, 4th grade education, no job. She owned nothing until her second widowhood, when she got a small house at age 70.

LYDEN: failures in the accounting department of personal responsibility. America is a place where people want to believe that they rise through their own efforts; an American who loses a job is not a day away from starvation.

T: I regret to say that sometimes my grandmother's ways embarrass me. I'm not alone. We don't want the poor to congregate in our parks or spoil public places. Too often, we don't even want to see them. Across the country, laws that in effect criminalize poverty by targeting the poor and containing the homeless have risen in dozens of cities. Perhaps our perceptions will necessarily change. I'm proud my grandmother survived on squirrel, but I don't want anyone else to have to.

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