Occupy Wall Street, Debt Forgiveness, and the Bigger Idea

by Patricia Hewitt 0

One might presume that as a movement, OccupyWall Street has gone underground, leaving behind a legacy for thefinancial services market in the term, “the 99%”, but perhapslittle else. However, recently an offshoot of the group has turnedits attention to the question of debt management. Specifically, howto help the 99% manage their debt and the bigger idea is to simplypay it off for them.

Working under the organizational title of Strike Debt, this new movement intends to untiethe ties that bind the 99% through a fund raising effort they callthe Rolling Jubilee, which for the non-Bibilicalreader refers to the concept of the jubilee year where debts areforgiven and indentured servants are freed. According to itswebsite, the group has raised over $147,000, which they calculatecan be used to forgive over $2,960,000 of consumer debt.

We saw this concept of debt forgiveness play out during previousholiday seasons, where anonymous individuals would show up at alayaway department and pay off someone’s purchases. This biggeridea takes that concept to a whole new level, but how theyaccomplish their goal is not exactly clear. From theirwebsite:

“We cannot buy specific individuals’ debt-instead, we help liberatedebtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will,and collective refusal.”

They also offer a handbook for managing debt, navigatingbankruptcy, and protecting oneself from predatory lenders. It’sthese efforts that adhere closest to trends in the mainstreammarket relating to consumers interest and need for higherfunctioning debt and spending management tools. We anticipate thatthe market will see more products and services introduced toconsumers that address this dynamic but for a lucky few, they won’tneed them.