Occupy Wall Street activists have hit upon a novel way to provide people with debt relief: buy it up and cancel it. The initiative, a project of the non-profit Strike Debt called Rolling Jubilee, buys distressed debt from banks for pennies on the dollar, and then, instead of trying to collect on it, abolishes it.
The initial funding goal of $50,000 — which the Rolling Jubilee would use to cancel $1 million of debt — has already been met twice over. (Visit the website to watch the donations, and debt eliminations, climb.)
To answer your question: No, you can not apply to have your debt specifically targeted. Debt is bought at random in bundles. And if your debt isn’t yet “distressed” then it’s not likely to be on the list.
How much of a dent could this effort really make in the collective debt of the American people? Maybe only a small one. Americans are something like $2.7 trillion in debt, and a trillion is a million millions.
But it’s certainly an inspiring way to offer direct relief to people who are struggling, and perhaps it will get the issue of personal debt back in the news.
You can donate to the Rolling Jubilee here. Check the website on Thursday for a live stream of their launch party, featuring Jeff Mangum (of Neutral Milk Hotel) and Janeane Garofalo among others.