Occupy to Buy Up and Relieve People's Debt?

Occupy's next project (one of many branches on the Occupy tree) is an exciting one; a campaign to buy up debt and relieve it, one lucky debtor at a time.

The campaign wasn't just the brainchild of Occupy, but rather a coalescing of progressive ideas and projects around the issue of debt. One of the oddities of our system is that buyers can purchase "distressed" debt from lenders at knockdown prices. The usual course of action is to do this and then have the buyer hound the debtors. But the new project explores: what if this debt was purchased and then simply let go, forgiven?

That's the concept behind the Rolling Jubilee, and its kickoff event the #PeoplesBailout--to raise money and forgive loads of debt.

David Rees wrote about the project online at his Tumblr:

Now OWS is launching the ROLLING JUBILEE, a program that has been in development for months. OWS is going to start buying distressed debt (medical bills, student loans, etc.) in order to forgive it. As a test run, we spent $500, which bought $14,000 of distressed debt. We then ERASED THAT DEBT.(If you’re a debt broker, once you own someone’s debt you can do whatever you want with it — traditionally, you hound debtors to their grave trying to collect. We’re playing a different game. A MORE AWESOME GAME.)

This is a simple, powerful way to help folks in need — to free them from heavy debt loads so they can focus on being productive, happy and healthy. As you can see from our test run, the return on investment approaches 30:1. That’s a crazy bargain!

Now, after many consultations with attorneys, the IRS, and our moles in the debt-brokerage world, we are ready to take the Rolling Jubilee program LIVE and NATIONWIDE, buying debt in communities that have been struggling during the recession.

The "People's Bailout" get the Rolling Jubilee off the ground with a concert/show in NYC and a telethon-style livestreaming this week. Watch a promo below:

 [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"351255","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"cursor: default; width: 460px; height: 345px; ","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

And old Elizabeth Warren clip explains how the current debt system works, and why it works badly:

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.