How We Got Here, Part 4: Disempowerment and Debt

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As business owners take away more and more good options, workers are forced to rely on destructive coping mechanisms. (Giselle Chow)

Once benefits have been eroded, pay suppressed, unions weakened, and good jobs taken away, Americans are forced to turn to dangerous coping mechanisms. They get second jobs. More people in the household work. And the start taking on lots and lots of debt.

Household debt in America has reached an all-time high at over $14 trillion. Many people never catch up to the debt they owe. And worse, some options that seem like a light at the end of the tunnel might just sink you deeper in the hole.

"How We Got Here" is a special five-part series made by Sam Harnett, Alan Montecillo, and Chris Hoff. These five episodes are airing on The Bay from July 6-10. You can hear the rest of the series by following the links below. Illustrations by graphic facilitator, Giselle Chow.

Part 1: The 'Great Risk Shift' From Companies to Workers


Part 2: The Attack on Worker Power


Part 3: The Road to Shareholder Capitalism


Part 4: Disempowerment and Debt


Part 5: Meaningful Work


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