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Forum Post: Rolling Jubilee has already raised enough money to buy out almost $6 million of Americans’ medical debt

Posted 7 years ago on Nov. 19, 2012, 2:22 a.m. EST by TrevorMnemonic (5827)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement


Cenk talks to Thomas Gokey, an artist who is one of the co-founders of the Rolling Jubilee movement, an Occupy Wall Street off-shoot that raises money to buy debt and then “forgive” what people owe rather than collecting on the bills.

Gokey says, “Most people in the United States don’t realize that there’s this shadow market for debt. When banks irresponsibly lend money and create these toxic assets, the government has actually stepped in and mandated that they get them off their books. They actually get a tax write-off every time they do it — it’s a mini bailout. Those get sold on the secondary market of debt buyers and treat this part of someone’s life, a little bit of their misery, as if it were a commodity, and they trade it back and forth with each other. But the trick is that when they sell this debt to debt buyers, they sell it for pennies on the dollar, and that’s what makes this project work. For just $5,000 we can eradicate over $100,000 of medical debt.”



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[-] 5 points by therising (6643) 7 years ago

This is so fucking cool.

[-] 5 points by shadz66 (19985) 7 years ago

Re. "Rolling Jubilee" - Great post and link to which I append :

Medical Debt ; Student Debt ; Housing Debt ; Credit Card Debt !!! All with 'Compound Interest' !! Crazy !

radix omnium malorum est cupiditas ...

[-] 3 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 7 years ago

I'm looking forward to reading that Debt Resistors Operations Manual after work tonight.

As always thanks for the great links!!

[-] 5 points by shadz66 (19985) 7 years ago

"Modern Debt Peonage ? - Economic Democracy Is Turning Into a Financial Oligarchy" (with Dr. Michael Hudson) : http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20709.htm .

I couldn't resist one last relevant link from the inimitable Dr. Michael Hudson and please spread that 'Debt Resistors Manual' about liberally.

pax, amor et lux ...

[-] 3 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 7 years ago

Great article. A good read if anyone has time.

"The old world of debt pyramiding to a fraudulent degree cannot be restored."

[-] 5 points by shadz66 (19985) 7 years ago

Re. 'Debt Jubilee' and for the sake of completing the full picture and also in case you or anyone anyone wants to kick back & 'watch' as opposed to 'read' on this 'Thanksgiving', I append, for your convenience :

veritas vos liberabit ...

[-] 3 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 7 years ago

And with a great acceptance speech


[-] 4 points by shadz66 (19985) 7 years ago

"How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘1 Percent’!" - by George Lakey : http://wagingnonviolence.org/2012/01/how-swedes-and-norwegians-broke-the-power-of-the-1-percent/ .

multum in parvo ...

[-] 4 points by shadz66 (19985) 7 years ago

Succinct, true and a very good clip. In comparison to such a short clip, I append a far longer item, which you will have probably seen but which has a relevance I think as we are encouraged to be inured to The Grand Financial Crimes, which continue to cause such misery for so many in The U$A and worldwide :

Thanx for this good forum-post Trev and for all you do here. Solidarity !!

pax, amor et lux ...

[-] 2 points by prospector22 (185) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

Although I knew the first two links fairly well, they were all good. Your last link helped me put Strike Debt and its Rolling Jubilee intiative into a historic perspective, and in particular how creditors have used debt to enslave people for centuries and the consequences that followed.

On a side note the people in Strike Debt are the best of the best. They do need a little work on throwing a "rockn' dance party." That phase of the evening's program mostly devolved into more discussion with cool music playing in the background. No one complained though.


[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 6 years ago

Solidarity @ : http://strikedebt.org/ & http://rollingjubilee.org/ - may they forever party on for The 99% +

''If President Obama really wanted to apologize to the American people he would not be focused on the fact that some have been required to drop poor insurance plans, but would apologize for the ACA requiring them to buy poor insurance plans that leave them paying 30 percent to 40 percent of the cost of healthcare if they get the most common silver and bronze plans. He would be apologizing that the ACA is a symptom of his administration which is dominated by Wall Street and other big business interests like Monsanto serving as food czar, the outsourcer General Electric serving as jobs czar and the Attorney General coming from a corporate law firm that represents the big banks and other business interests. We are not holding our breath expecting President Obama to apologize for these actions, but hope that others will work with us to build a mass popular resistance that can change the direction of the government and the economy. Change has always come from the bottom up, so we are not waiting for the top to acknowledge their own corruption.''

consilio et animis ...

[-] 4 points by beautifulworld (23264) 6 years ago

OWS Rolling Jubilee buys $15 million of personal debt with $400,000. Nice.


Why don't we hear about this in US MSM? Why does it take a British newspaper to tell this story?

[-] 2 points by prospector22 (185) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

I knew from being on one of the Occupy email lists that Strike Debt was coming out with a major announcement in November, but WOW erasing $15 million of medical debt is incredible. This small group is not only Occupy at its best, it's humanity at its best.

[-] 3 points by beautifulworld (23264) 6 years ago

And, it shows how a debt jubilee on a much bigger scale is possible.

[-] 3 points by prospector22 (185) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

Yes crowd sourcing for the benefit of people in need is a really neat and beautiful concept as is it shows us the collective power we have and it also shows that people care. The Rolling Jubillee will continue to take donations only through Dec 31st, 2013, which to be honest I am a bit disappointed and perplexed about, as I have contributed a small amount on a monthly basis for about a year now and would be happy to do so indefinitely. The abolishment of medical debt will go on through 2014 though with the money on hand. You can still continue to contribute to Strike Debt to cover the cost of outreach and administrative stuff and in support of their next initiative..."developing tactics to help build collective forms of power," and in particular shining a spotlight on the outrageous way our system has caused student debt to become the #1 debt in the country (approx. $1.2 trillion), with the hope of alleviating a small fraction of it.

"Aside from helping out thousands of debtors, the Rolling Jubilee has widely publicized the predatory workings of the debt-buying marketplace. As a result of our work, many more people now know the collectors have only paid pennies for the debts they harass us for in full......We hope that this knowledge inspires debtors everywhere to not just do what the lenders demand of them, but instead to use their leverage to strike a better deal - or simply refuse payment altogether."

Stike Debt/The Rolling Jubilee has shown us the power that we have when we work in a collective way. "As the old saying goes: If you owe the bank $100, that's your problem. If [however] you owe the bank $100 million, that's the banks problem."

Tonight is a night to celebrate though so Strike Debt is having a "Rolling Jubilee Dinner" followed by anouncements and discussions, and then a "rockn' dance party." And I'm waiting to hear back from friends to see if they want to meet me there.


[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (23264) 6 years ago

Very nice. I think what we can also garner from this is that our government is fully capable of offering a debt jubilee, on some level, to the American people for say, student loan debt, mortgage debt, credit card debt, you name it. It's doable. A lot of the money loaned was funny money anyway and the lender's were lending money that didn't really exist. If this society is going to go on in a healthy way something has to be done on a grand scale about all of the debt facing the American people.

[-] 2 points by prospector22 (185) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

Thanks. Agreed, there is so much good that could be done with the money that we fork over to corporate and banking crooks. Slowly people are starting to realize where our government has its perverted priorities. As the momentum grows, so will the anger.

Shining a spotlight on a few of these inequities has been one of Strike Debt's major accomplishments.

[-] 3 points by beautifulworld (23264) 6 years ago

Here is the brilliant Richard Wolff succinctly explaining how Americans got into all of this debt in the first place, courtesy sff:




[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 7 years ago

I really like this.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

So...............Do You get big name perks?

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (17435) 7 years ago

Nope, not a one.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

OH - omg - aAHhahaha....where did you find that clip of me?heHeehe

[-] 0 points by GirlFriday (17435) 7 years ago

I thought it was funny.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago


So seriously - no perks? It's not just me? Fame - such a fickle thing.

[-] 0 points by GirlFriday (17435) 7 years ago

Not a one.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

Damn - do we have a union boss?

[-] 0 points by GirlFriday (17435) 7 years ago

Nope. Not that I'm aware of.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

Well . . . aw hell ....what are franchise players like us doing - with nothing nailed down? Who's my agent? anyone?

[-] 0 points by GirlFriday (17435) 7 years ago

I know, right? What the hell.....

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

Did you sign a contract? I didn't. Does that mean I am better off(?) or worse off? Oh man....................

[-] 0 points by GirlFriday (17435) 7 years ago

We got nuttin' out of the whole shebang. Nothing gained and nothing lost.

I'm ok with that.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

The assholes in this world "do" know how to push my buttons. You 2 hey?

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (10211) 2 minutes ago

My anger seems to know no bounds. ↥twinkle ↧stinkle permalink

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

Me too - I didn't sign on for fame or recognition - I signed on for anger at having been stepped on all my life along with everyone I know/knew - and for a better world for all going forward from here.

[-] 0 points by GirlFriday (17435) 7 years ago

My anger seems to know no bounds.

[-] 1 points by lancealotlink (147) 7 years ago

wouldnt it be better to take this money and buy homes for the homeless?

[-] 0 points by BetsyRoss (-744) 7 years ago

From the Forbes article on the matter:

"I would also, and no doubt to the profound distress of the originators of the idea, insist that it is a profoundly conservative idea. It was the great conservative philosopher Edmund Burke who pointed out that civil society really worked not by bureaucrats directing everyones’ efforts, or politicians demanding that this or that be done, but by the actions of the “little platoons” of society. That is, us, ourselves, in voluntary association, getting to grips with the errors and omissions of the universe around us. In the UK these days it is derided as a Conservative (ie, political party rather than philosophical strand) idea called the “Big Society”. The idea that it isn’t the state (or “State”) to which we should look for solutions but us, the people. And note very importantly: us the people collaborating voluntarily."

"Which leaves me with a final point. As I’ve said, this is the first Occupy Anything idea I’ve heard which makes even a modicum of sense to me. And it does indeed make great sense to me: if you think that lowering other peoples’ debt burdens is a good idea, which I do, then doing it voluntarily and at 5 cents on the $ sounds just absolutely fabulous to me. You’re spending your money as you wish: what could be wrong with that? But the icing on the cake for me is that this one and only decent Occupy idea is a profoundly conservative one, relying as it does on those little platoons. It isn’t Progressive, it’s not liberal (in the modern sense although it certainly is in the classical liberal or libertarian sense) it is conservative. And isn’t that wondrous? That the only time the progressive liberals of Occupy get something right is when they’re not progressive liberals?"


[-] 3 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 7 years ago

it's not a conservative idea. It's not a liberal idea.

It's just an idea.

[-] 0 points by BetsyRoss (-744) 7 years ago

Read what he said and the context he said it in.

"In the UK.......derided Conservative....idea......"Big Society"..that it isn't the State to we we should look for solutions but us, the people....collaborating voluntarily".

In opposition to "Big Government", which "in the modern sense" is typically a Progressive/liberal idea.

It's called opinion. And he has a right to his just as you do to yours.

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

What it is, in spite of those that will twist and spin to claim it, is a profoundly Occupy idea.

All the BS others want to put forth in an effort to claim the idea is nothing more..........................Bullshit.

If it were anything else, they would have already been doing that exact thing, but they are not.

Occupy is.

The article is bullshit.

[-] 0 points by BetsyRoss (-744) 7 years ago

You do realize that the "idea" is based upon a profoundly HEBREW practice called "Jubilee". Right?

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

And here I thought it was based on Grandma's cherry "jubilee"

That's just a word.

A word that fit.

You really can't ascribe it to the Hebrews.

It's still a thing done by Occupy.

The article stands as bullshit.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 7 years ago


[-] -1 points by BetsyRoss (-744) 7 years ago

The Occupy Strike Debt website attributes it thusly:

"What is a jubilee?"

"Jubilee comes from many faith traditions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam. A jubilee is an event in which all debts are cancelled and all those in bondage are set free. It worked in Biblical times and it can still work today. For example, a kind of jubilee happened in Iceland after the 2008 economic crisis: instead of bailing out their banks, Iceland canceled a percentage of mortgage debt. What these examples show is that debts are just a promise which can - and should - be renegotiated or cancelled when the circumstances warrant. Strike Debt believes that now is the time for a jubilee for the 99%."
[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

Pretty good PR, eh?

It stands that those "faiths" are still not actually doing this thing.

Occupy, on the other hand is.

Writers, write about traveling to the stars too, yet only actual astronauts go there..

[-] 2 points by BetsyRoss (-744) 7 years ago

I think it's a great idea no matter where it came from. What I have trouble with is calling people who declare that they are going to the stars and ask people to give them money to do it, and yet have provided zero proof/evidence that the money being donated really is being used to build a space ship, or that they are qualified or capable of actually flying it-astronauts.

You'd don't. Fine with me. :)

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 7 years ago

anyone can fly a ship

it's not that complected

[-] -1 points by BetsyRoss (-744) 7 years ago

A space ship? Well then apparently it's not much of an accomplishment. Don't tell shooz. .

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 7 years ago

driving is more involved because it isn't open sky

[-] 0 points by BetsyRoss (-744) 7 years ago

3 months drivers ed for an hour three times a week.

NASA space shuttle training......???

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 7 years ago

not as much

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

That makes two things we've agreed on so far!

[-] 2 points by BetsyRoss (-744) 7 years ago

Shhhhh...what will people think?

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

I don't care to speculate.

[-] 2 points by BetsyRoss (-744) 7 years ago

Three things! Now you're scaring me....

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

Must be the holidays..................LOL.........................:)

[-] -3 points by mapleLaneser (-120) 7 years ago

Progressive/liberal love big Gov and their free handouts. How is that food stamp pres workin for ya??

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 7 years ago

property love the rent they charge and the resources they sell

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

You would call Reagan and W progressives?

I wouldn't and they both loved huge government.

In fact the current food stamp usage is a result of the repercussions of Bush's policies.

Coupled with the behaviors practiced by people like Romoney.

If I needed food stamps, I would have to say he's working pretty well.

And that's the way it is, Betsy.