We don’t speak for Strike Debt, but as members of the team that helped organize the Rolling Jubilee, a campaign that buys and abolishes debt, we are happy to report that the project is already a phenomenal success. In two weeks, the Rolling Jubilee fund has raised ten times more than we expected (it is now rapidly approaching $450,000), and some debtors will be genuinely elated when the first letters from Strike Debt arrive informing them they are off the hook for medical bills they have been unable to pay. Debt relief, by any means necessary, is a lifeline to desperately overburdened people. It is also a first strike against the predators who feed off the debt system.
And for the strategy-minded, there have been a gamut of useful responses. The Rolling Jubilee kicked off a lively debate about the root causes of mass indebtedness, the government’s double standard where debt relief is concerned (why do banks, not people, get bailed out?), the powerful, coercive morality of debt repayment and the significance of activists entering the debt-buying industry. Looking ahead, the Rolling Jubilee has served as a kind of beacon, inspiring experts and laypeople alike to share their ideas for the next wave of the movement.
The Rolling Jubilee is proving to be wildly effective public education, exposing the seedy underbelly of the debt system and the inequities it perpetuates. For the best part of a week—an eternity in the world of social media—regions of the Internet vibrated with discussion and crowd-sourced information about the internal workings of this murky marketplace. How many borrowers, hounded by collection agencies, knew how cheaply their harassers had bought out their loans? How many knew that original lenders get to “charge off” their defaulted accounts and take a tax break—another kind of bailout—before bundling them into portfolios for sale on this shadowy, secondary market?