Radical, Elegant, Brilliant!

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In a nutshell, here’s how it works……  Under normal circumstances, banks and mortgagees bundle together and sell their bad debts – those loans in default or with frequent delinquencies — on secondary markets.   Speculative investors and debt collectors then buy the debt for pennies on the dollar.  The purchaser of the bad debt (debt collectors) stands to gain on these dirt cheap but risky loans by simply harassing the debtor for the remaining balance plus interest.  For example, if they could buy a $1 loan for 5 cents, they can double the money on their investment if in the end they can collect 10 cents on every dollar.  As you would expect, this shady underworld market of secondary investments is supposedly hard to crack into.  In other words, the average joe has no access to it.  Yet another good-ole-boy network that’s exclusive to the haves.  Shady albeit.

Rolling Jubilee – What is it and how does it work? [1]
An Occupy Wall Street-inspired organization, Strike Debt, acts as a speculative investor mentioned above.  They buy the bad debts being sold on secondary markets for pennies on the dollar, but instead of turning into a debt collector that makes calls daily in an effort to collect on the remaining balance, they act as a modern day Robin Hood.  They purchase the dirt cheap debt, from money raised via donations, and then completely forgive the borrower – affectively canceling their debt.  How did they manage to crack the good-ole-boy network?  From what I can gathering having read a good number of articles about it, they won’t divulge much info about it, but they’ve made it clear that they captured the hearts of insiders (bad debt buyers) who work on the inside and are sympathetic to the cause.
A recent Gala event in NYC is what really drew attention to the volunteer run project.  A host of celebrities helped to bring attention to the event.  According to those familiar with the organization [1]:
”……the actual goal is to jumpstart the conversation about debt that originated from predatory lending practices. “I want to make it really clear that what we’re doing here is not charity,” Smith said. “It’s not debt forgiveness. It’s a political statement about what we view to be odious debts.”

The biblical year of Jubilee [2]:

What makes all of this interesting to me is how closely, in some respects, this movement matches the biblical year of Jubilee.  What is the Jubilee?  Well it’s basically a land Sabbath (Levicticus 25).  The Mosaic Law mandated that upon every seven year cycle no crops were to be sown or harvested.  If grain or plants did manage to grow by themselves it could be harvested by the poor or for daily food by the farmer.  In addition, debts accumulated by the poor during the previous seven years were to be completely forgiven to enable a fresh start (Deuteronomy 15: 1-11).  It was time of redemption when the poor were able to get free from the stranglehold of debt that may have been incurred at the hands of someone more wealthy.

After 49 years – 7 cycles of 7 year land Sabbaths were complete then another land Sabbath was to be observed, giving the land further rest from cultivation.  Also, any poor person whom had mortgaged their land during that 49 year period could then return to their possessions.

In many ways, it was God’s way of controlling unchecked greed by his chosen people, and minimizing the potential of systemic oppression.

On the surface, I thought this idea was amazing and beautifully subversive.  However, the more I thought about it, I did have some pretty serious reservations about it.  What piqued my interest most were the other thoughts that ran through my mind.  Would it be possible to build a similar organization that was Christian?  How could someone (me?) create a ministry (non-for-profit) out of this idea?  Anyway, my mind went crazy, so I’ll break this blog into two parts.  Stay tuned………


[1] http://www.christianpost.com/news/rolling-jubilee-cites-bible-in-project-to-forgive-anonymous-debts-85115/

[2] http://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.sr/CT/BQA/k/158/How-Do-Land-Sabbath-Jubilee-Years-Work-Leviticus-25.htm