For the last year I have been working on a political campaign called The Rolling Jubilee that is simple and complex and kind of magical: we buy people’s debts and abolish them. Few Americans know that their unpaid bills—healthcare, credit card, and other kinds of consumer accounts—are often sold for pennies on the dollar on a shady, speculative, and alarmingly unregulated market. The Rolling Jubilee participates in this market, but instead of trying to collect the full amount of the debts we buy, we make them disappear. This week we announced that we have abolished $13.5 million worth of medical debt owed by 2,693 people, and they owe us nothing in return. Astra Taylor, film-maker and a some-time instructor at the Purple Thistle (started in part by Groundswell co-founder Matt Hern) has written a beautiful piece in Hazlitt magazine about the Rolling Jubilee, another amazing example of the solidarity economy in action. Instead of leaving poor people at the mercy of finance, The Rolling Jubilee emancipates them by erasing their debts. The real magic, though, would come from organizing these liberated debtors into a powerful movement for a new economy that doesn't allow shady trading of debts or predatory lending. Check out Strike Debt, which aims to do just that - "organize debt resistors to fight for economic justice and democratic freedom."
Debt is where many people feel the practical, daily life effects of the boom-and-bust, winner-take-all-economy. And therefore, it's an opportunity to motivate people to rethink this current economic logic – and work together to create something better.