Listen to Felicia and her daughter Ermaline. Audio Producer: Sarah P. Reynolds

Felicia sits with her daughter Ermaline Ogbodo in their Fresno home after attending a Sunday church service. Felicia lost her job as a social worker with foster children and has been living on unemployment benefits since January 2011. She filed for bankruptcy to wipe out her credit card debt, an experience she calls “humbling,” and has been considering moving in with her ex-husband or a roommate to save on bills. Before losing her job, Ogbodo had a decent yearly salary of $45,000, but is now running out of money. In addition to downsizing, she plans on selling her furniture and other items she has in storage. State budget cuts have forced Fresno County to downsize group homes or shut down programs for foster children, making it more difficult for Ogbodo to find a job. After obtaining a masters degree in social work, she never imagined she would be in this situation. Her daughter Ermaline, a top student, was accepted into college on a scholarship but worries over her mom’s financial situation.

 

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“In 1978, it might have been economically feasible and perfectly legal for an executive to award himself a multimillion-dollar bonus while shedding 40 percent of his work force and requiring the survivors to take annual furloughs without pay. But no executive would have wanted the shame and outrage that would have followed any more than an executive today would want to be quoted using a racial slur or photographed with a paid escort.”

- The Broken Contract: Inequality and American Decline by George Packe

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