Occupy to Buy Up and Relieve People's Debt?

New movement will raise money to buy debt--and then relieve it.

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 Reeswrote 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:







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

Sarah Seltzer is a freelance writer based in New York City. Her work has been published at the Nation, the Christian Science Monitor, Jezebel and the Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahmseltzer and find her work at sarahmseltzer.com.

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