Four years ago today, the Occupy Wall Street movement began in New York City’s financial district. Although the encampments that sprang up around the world in solidarity were eventually closed, an amazing effort was soon underway to help “the 99%”.
Since it organized one year later, this positive protest movement has, to date, paid off nearly $32 million in Americans’ personal debt.
Called the “Rolling Jubilee,” the nonprofit buys the debt the same way collection companies do, but instead of trying to collect the money, they simply forgive the debt.
The project can afford to do this because they buy a dollar’s worth of debt for about five cents on the “secondary debt market.”
Banks and credit card companies bundle together bad debt after people declare bankruptcy or default on payments. They’re willing to sell the debt so cheaply because they don’t expect to get the full amount back from the people they lent it to.
That philosophy has allowed Rolling Jubilee to pay off that multi-million dollar bill using just over $700,000 in donations over the last three years.
Because of the nature of the market, the project can’t specify whose debt it buys, but once Rolling Jubilee owns it they contact the debtors and let them know their bill is paid in full.
The lucky recipients get a letter in the mail declaring, “You no longer owe the balance of this particular debt. It is gone, a gift with no strings attached.”
Photo: Images of Money, CC
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