Interesting Ideas Need Lots of Planning to Work, Sometimes

I am intrigued by Rolling Jubilee, an Occupy Wall Street idea to purchased distressed debt and forgive it. This is clever. Not without ideological disconnect, but clever.

In addition to the ideological dissonance, there are some serious questions about how to structure this program and how to administer it that I doubt have been considered. They *could* be considered and addressed, but if the program tries to proceed ad hoc, it’s going to be a disaster. But on principal, I support buying and forgiving debt that has already been sold off–and written off–by the original creditor.

I think there should be a law that says than any time a debt is sold, the debtor should have right of first refusal. If a debt collection agency can buy my debt for pennies on the dollar, I should be offered the opportunity to pay it off at the same discount.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:55 AM on November 9

Debt–but not the government’s debt–is becoming a major social justice issue. The major stumbling block in discussing how, as a society, to address it is that so many people want to argue about whether or not people have dug their own holes. We all accept that people made their own debt choices–even those of us who argue that people were mislead, lied to, or merely poorly informed when making those decisions. Even those of us who don’t consider having no way to pay for your medical care, food or housing other than a high interest credit card, or an ill-advised second mortgage or some other ruinous consumer debt option an actual choice recognize that the people who accrued these debts took affirmative steps to accrue them.

So let’s stop talking about that part of it.

Let’s talk, instead, about how it cripples the consumer economy when no-one has disposable income. Let’s talk, instead, about how writing off and trading these bad debts around damages financial institutions. Let’s talk, instead, about the demoralizing nature of working as an hourly employee for debt collections. Let’s talk, instead, about all the enforcement costs of regulating the debt collection industry.

Let’s talk about liberating people and society from this mess we allowed ourselves to create.

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