Inside the Rolling Jubilee, the First P2P Bailout

| 11/20/2012 2:31:00 PM

 Rolling Jubilee 

 This post first appeared on Shareable. 

One of the defining features of this economic crisis is massive debt: student debt, medical debt, credit cards and underwater mortgages. The last thirty years have seen a stagnation of actual wages, which, combined with government cuts, outsourcing and off shoring, has meant a stagnation of the real purchasing power of the American people (alongside many more destructive results). To offset this lag, America has turned to debt, which can only paper over the lack of real capital for so long. The current crisis has seen millions devastated by the bursting of these credit bubbles. What solutions can help get people out of these debt traps?

One idea that's received much atttention lately is the Rolling Jubilee. The strategy, developed by Strike Debt, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, involves the abolition of private debt through totally legal market practices. The method is graceful in its simplicity: banks that are holding debt they can’t collect sell that debt really cheap on a secondary debt market, almost always to debt collectors. What Rolling Jubilee does is purchase this debt, and then cancel it, freeing the debtor from the claims of the bank and the debt collection agencies. As of this writing, the Rolling Jubilee has raised almost $350,000, which will abolish just under $7 million of debt, a very impressive achievement.

Mike Andrews is a member of Strike Debt, the organization that helped bring the Rolling Jubilee to fruition, and has seen the Rolling Jubilee develop from its first stages. I sat down to talk to him about Strike Debt, the Rolling Jubilee, and larger term strategies for combating debt in America.

Willie: What is the genesis of the Rolling Jubilee idea? How did it get started? 

Cory Hinman
11/27/2012 9:17:48 AM

I wish I could find it again, but I remember this great quote from a British scholar whose specialty was the history of debt, wherein he said something like, "Debts among the rich and nations are renegotiated all the time. The timely paying of debts only becomes a moral imperative when we're talking about what the poor owe the rich."

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