Rolling Jubilee – Remission of debts in the age of crowdfunding

13.12.2012

You'd think everyone would enjoy outwitting the large banks and private debt collectors. The Rolling Jubilee project, an offshoot from the Occupy Wallstreet Movement and Strike Debt!, is trying to clear the debts of private households in the United States with the help of crowdfunding.

Banks in the United States sell so-called “bad debts” to debt buyers because these debts are deemed to be not collectible. Generally they are sold for a fraction of their actual value, instead of $1 they are usually purchased for a mere $0.02. In turn, the debt buyers attempt to collect at least half of the amount from the debtor. This is where Rolling Jubilee comes in. It uses the money contributed online to buy bad debts from the banks, and then abolishes them. As a result, the debts and the shadowy speculative market vanish into thin air.

So far the Rolling Jubilee homepage has raised nearly $ 500.000. Enough to buy 16 times that amount of debt. It sounds like a lot of money, but when you consider that private debt in American households amounts to approximately $11 billion, then it's only a drop in the ocean. By buying their debts, Rolling Jubilee not only provides financial relief, it also hinders dubious debt buyers from making a profit. And there is no question that it is immoral for them to profit from other peoples misfortune. The companies and banks that are involved in this kind of business ought to be severely criticized. Given that 62% of personal bankruptcies are caused by an unexpected medical illness and the lack of health insurance, and that 40% of American households use their credit cards to finance their daily expenses, it can't be right that the financial sector continues to make a profit.

The debts are bought are absolutely at random. The banks sell the debts in bundles and there is no information about whose debts are being bought. Student debt cannot be bought yet. Most Europeans will find it hard to believe that student debt in the United States amounts to one billion dollars.

Source: Interview with Yates McKee, Organiser Strike Debt! – How does Rolling Jubilee work

Finally a few words to the meaning of the word “jubilee”. In the Biblical sense, a jubilee is a year marked by a universal absolution and debtors are freed of their debts. A jubilee is an event that a person will probably only experience once in a lifetime. All the better for all the private sinners and debtors: apparently a new jubilee has been ushered in. The banking sector has certainly received enough help.

What do you think, is it a good idea? Would you donate money?


2 Kommentare

nancy 13.12.2012, 20:26:40 Uhr

First of all, you can well believe that student debt in the U.S. is well over 1 billion. The tuition goes up every year. The government folks here haven’t realized that a tuition at a resonable cost is really important for our future.
As far as this idea for abolishing the debt, I think it’s brilliant. We need to think outside the box and take our future in our own hands to find solutions without politics coloring the outcome.

Jana 17.12.2012, 14:26:50 Uhr

I absolutely agree. How can anyone have a successful start in your professional live if for the next 15 year you need to pay of your tuition fee. I have been watching the Rolling Jubilee website and there donations are still coming in. I hope they figure out how to buy student debts as well.