Members of Occupy Wall Street — various branches of which have recently been saving families from foreclosure and aiding victims of Hurricane Sandy — have launched a new initiative. Coined the “Rolling Jubilee,” Occupiers are raising money to buy distressed debt from financial firms.
But while purchasers of debt usually hound debtors in order to make a return on their investment, Occupy plans to simply abolish the debt for the lucky individuals whose accounts they grab. As explained on the Rolling Jubilee website:
We buy debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, we abolish it. We cannot buy specific individuals’ debt – instead, we help liberate debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will, and collective refusal.
Organizer David Rees explained further:
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.