Dec 04 2012
The Federal Reserve announced earlier this year that student loan borrowing pushed consumer spending to a record high. Federal lending institutions increased their lending by $13.8 billion. Meanwhile, a growing number of people are signing onto a new Change.org petition started by a Michigan mother who is being hounded by a private student loan company to pay off her dead son’s loans. Sixty one year old Ella Edwards was forced out of retirement and back to work three years after her son’s death to pay off his loan. Within a month of his death, two federal loans were forgiven by the government, but the private company that is owed $10,000 has not ceased in their efforts to collect on their money.
In response to the growing burden of debt in the United States a group called Strike Debt is fighting such types of debt collection in innovative ways. Banks often sell debts which have a low rate of repayment to debt collectors who then hound people for payments. Strike Debt, a group that became famous recently for changing this formula, decided to buy the debt at pennies on the dollar, just like a debt collection agency would, and then instantly forgiving it. This initiative is aptly called the Rolling Jubilee, which is a reference to an annual Biblical holiday where all debts were forgiven and bound servants released. The project has currently raised almost half a million in donations to eliminate $9 million of medical debt. Since the debts are bundled it is not possible to identify individual debts before purchasing them.
Along with their plans to help eliminate such debt, the group has also put together a manifesto called The Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual. The manual directly offers people who are in debt as part of what the writers call “Mafia capitalism,” ways to avoid paying off the debt. With specific sections on credit card, medical, student, and housing debt, the Debt Resistors Manual also addresses the underlying causes and effects of what are called “economic hate crimes” against ordinary Americans.
GUEST: Thomas Gokey, organizer with Strike Debt
Visit www.strikedebt.org for more information and to download the manual.