Occupy's Rolling Jubilee Has Raised Enough to Forgive Almost $7 Million of Debt

Symbolic OWS action will have real-world consequences: less debt.

A screenshot of theRolling Jubilee site Friday morning.

After a long, rollicking and vintage Occupy-style concert and telethon Thursday night called the People's Bailout, which included music, talks about debt, and performances  the Rolling Jubilee has raised enough money to forgive almost 7 million dollars of debt. 

How are they planning on doing this? By entering the "distressed debt" market:

The distressed debt market is, of course, a murky side business for banks, lenders and other debt merchants. Banks can end collection efforts if debt remains unpaid after a certain amount of time and write it off on their books as a loss. In order to recover some of their lost dollars, lenders might sell that debt for pennies on the dollar to investors or debt collectors.

That's exactly what the Rolling Jubilee, which is affiliated with the Strike Debt! subgroup of OWS and the Debt Resister's Manual, is going to do.

New York Magazine gave the night a review which pretty much sums up my feelings from tuning in to part of the night online:

With a line snaking around the block and a bill that included comedians Janeane Garofalo and Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead, along with musical performances by members of Sonic Youth and TV on the Radio, the alternative A-listers kept a sold-out audience alert. But the show was also a quintessentially Occupy affair — uneven and overlong. There with awkward segments of theater-kid indulgence (a fifteen-piece orchestra playing a protest polka) half-baked, liberal-arts-school rants, and a burlesque performer dressed like an accountant playing with a yo-yo.

Ultimately, though, it came together, due in part to the talent assembled, but mostly on the strength of the underlying cause....

The narrow mission of Rolling Jubilee and its "strike debt!" mantra...kept participants focused even when the night threatened to stray. An idea of working within a system in order to undermine it offered a subversive spark the movement's been missing. "That's a really Trojan horse move," said Fugazi's Guy Picciotto, who performed as the night's final act with Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel. "And that's pretty badass."

Watch a performance by the duo below:

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.