A group of Occupy Wall Street activists has bought almost $15m of Americans’ personal debt over the last year as part of the Rolling Jubilee project to help people pay off their outstanding credit.
Rolling Jubilee, set up by Occupy’s Strike Debt group following the street protests that swept the world in 2011, launched on 15 November 2012. The group purchases personal debt cheaply from banks before “abolishing” it, freeing individuals from their bills.
By purchasing the debt at knockdown prices the group has managed to free $14,734,569.87 of personal debt, mainly medical debt, spending only $400,000.
"We thought that the ratio would be about 20 to 1," said Andrew Ross, a member of Strike Debt and professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University. He said the team initially envisaged raising $50,000, which would have enabled it to buy $1m in debt.
"In fact we’ve been able to buy debt a lot more cheaply than that."
The group is able to buy debt so cheaply due to the nature of the “secondary debt market”. If individuals consistently fail to pay bills from credit cards, loans, or medical insurance the bank or lender that issued the funds will eventually cut its losses by selling that debt to a third party. These sales occur for a fraction of the debt’s true values – typically for five cents on the dollar – and debt-buying companies then attempt to recoup the debt from the individual debtor and thus make a profit.
The Rolling Jubilee project was mostly conceived as a “public education project”, Ross said.
"We’re under no illusions that $15m is just a tiny drop in the secondary debt market. It doesn’t make a dent in the amount of debt.
"Our purpose in doing this, aside from helping some people along the way – there’s certainly many, many people who are very thankful that their debts are abolished – our primary purpose was to spread information about the workings of this secondary debt market."
The group has focussed on buying medical debt, and has acquired the $14.7m in three separate purchases, most recently purchasing the value of $13.5m on medical debt owed by 2,693 people across 45 states and Puerto Rico, Rolling Jubilee said in a press release.
“No one should have to go into debt or bankruptcy because they get sick,” said Laura Hanna, an organiser with the group. Hanna said 62% of all personal bankruptcies have medical debt as a contributing factor.
Due to the nature of the debt market, the group is unable to specify whose debt it purchases, taking on the amounts before it discovers individuals’ identities. When Rolling Jubilee has bought the debt they send notes to their debtors “telling them they’re off the hook”, Ross said.
Ross, whose book, Creditocracy and the case for debt refusal, outlines the problems of the debt industry and calls for a “debtors’ movement” to resist credit, said the group had received letters from people whose debt they had lifted thanking them for the service. But the real victory was in spreading knowledge of the nature of the debt industry, he said.
"Very few people know how cheaply their debts have been bought by collectors. It changes the psychology of the debtor, knowing this.
“So when you get called up by the debt collector, and you’re being asked to pay the full amount of your debt, you now know that the debt collector has bought your debt very, very cheaply. As cheaply as we bought it. And that gives you moral ammunition to have a different conversation with the debt collector.”
A fantastic and well sourced article outlining how Alex Jones peddles fact-less conspiracy theories and boat loads of failed predictions of “false flag” attacks to turn a profit.
The article also does a great job of demonstrating how Jones’ faux anti-establishment histrionics actually help to strengthen the establishment’s narrative of events by becoming the unhinged nutjob spokesperson for any and all alternative narratives to corporate and/or government talking points.
Once Alex Jones jumps onto some issue, the corporate media dutifully lumps legitimate fact based research on that issue, with Jones’ speculative nonsense. At that point any and all alternative narratives, fact based or not, are labelled “conspiracy theories”.
As climate change, urbanization, water and energy shortages grow more acute, there are a number of places around the globe where climate instability and water shortages threaten to spark conflict that will have global geopolitical and economic implications. Here are 6 of them.
I feel that for the 6th one they should have also mentioned that that region too is suffering from falling aquifer levels… You’ll have to read it to see what region I’m referring to.
India’s rupee plummeted the most in two decades to a record as a surge in oil prices threatened to worsen the current account and push the economy toward its biggest crisis since 1991. Bonds fell.
The Indian economic crash continues. Declining availability of oil on the global market, rising oil prices and an Indian economy dependent upon oil imports for nearly 80% of it’s needs is not a good combination for the future of the Indian people….
Two rebuttals to the Death of TOD = Death of Peak Oil 'argument'
Ever since The Oil Drum announced that it was going into archive mode the MSM and free market mythologizers have made insanely stupid and overly simplified arguments that since The Oil Drum is dead then Peak Oil must be dead. It’s a pretty silly and obviously illogical argument, but it plays well to the average folks who don’t really pay attention to data. And that’s what these peak oil denalists do, ignore the data or cherry pick the data or completely misrepresent the data to make their simple point that since The Oil Drum is dead then Peak Oil is dead.
So here are two great rebuttals to the peak oil denalists’ recent cheering of the “death of peak oil.”
The Oil Drum, a Web site dedicated to informed discussions about peak oil and energy, announced on July 3 that it is closing down. […] Those who hate the peak oil story didn’t bother to conceal their glee at the news; some even saw occasion to claim victory for their side in the “debate” over the future of fossil fuels.
I would also include Russell Tice in that list of whistleblowers. Check out this recent excerpt from an interview with Russ Tice; the NSA spies on all branches of government in case it needs to blackmail politicians to keep the game going. The NSA started gathering data on Obama before he even became senator. They have all the supreme court justices, congressmen, generals, everyone. No one is going to shut down these surveillance programs. Only the collapse of the American Empire will do that.
Just like all previous intelligence agencies from empires and regimes gone by; the NSA, CIA and the other myriad intelligence agencies of NATOstan have become mad with paranoia and lust for ever more information. It’s a self reinforcing feedback loop. They need more info to know who is a threat and who to go after. But you can never have enough info…never enough intelligence. You can never achieve perfect intelligence and this is what drives their paranoid behavior.
I just hope people get that this has been going on for decades now; this imperial (anti-liberty) foreign policy of the US, its client states and non-state actors.
The total information awareness program of the department of defense has been going full force ever since 9/11 and probably beforehand. So sad that dopes watch this stuff on MSM and are actually dumb enough to believe this surveillance state has just popped up in the past couple of years. I guess that’s a tip of the hat to the still highly effective corporate-capitalist media propaganda. So just listen to your cable news propaganda and go vote for that other corporate-capitalist controlled puppet political party. Your Vote Counts!
Great article by Glenn Greenwald. Funny how it takes a direct assault on the establishment media’s civil liberties to get them to speak up about the out of control executive branch. The establishment media has been silent for over a decade regarding the heinous abuses of power by the Bush and Obama administrations when those abuses were aimed at dissidents, anti-war groups and Muslim communities.
I also enjoy how Mr. Greenwald points out that mainstream (suburban) American liberals now sound just like their mainstream conservative counterparts did during the Bush administration when it came to violating civil liberties in the name of “national security” and “protecting us from the terrorists.”
Of course, during the Obama administration the conservatives in this country have been busy chasing fake scandals and imagined outrages such as the birther nonsense, just as their puppet masters desire. As we all know, the GOP and their corporate masters secretly approve of Obama’s foreign policy, aggressive militarism and continued roll-out of the surveillance and security police state; because they ran the exact same policies under the Bush administration.
As some of us have said for years now, the Obama administration is the 3rd and 4th terms of the Bush/Cheney regime.
Will mainstream, suburban Americans on the Left and Right finally begin to awaken to the fact that their democracy is a sham? That their republic is actually an empire? And has been one for decades. An empire that serves the extremely wealthy at the expense of the poor and the people of the rest of the world? Will the American people demand justice for the crimes and atrocities committed by the federal government and military in the name of our freedom??
Nafeez Ahmed: Root-cause environmental and energy factors driving violence will continue to destabilise Arab world without urgent reforms
Good comprehensive article on the Syrian predicament. A predicament that will befall all the repressive oil exporting states as their oil production peaks and declines and climate change continues to bite harder into global agricultural output. Debt can only mask the problems for so long.
Energy abundance depends entirely on the rate of the flow of oil, gas and other resources, Cobb writes. It is not, as many suggest, dependent on supposed, but often unverified, fossil fuel reserves in the ground.
Great, well sourced, article from Kurt Cobb. Energy abundance is not about sketchy, guesstimated resources that may be in the ground and incorrectly referred to as “reserves.” It’s all about the FLOW RATE. How much is available to society each and every day. Is that flow rate growing, flat or declining. That is the real question.
A good interview with some nice graphs. Chris Nelder does a great job of pulling in all the major details of peak oil and how they are impacting the global economy and the average American.
One issue I have is with two incorrect statements made in the intro by the interviewer, Brad Plumer [emphasis mine]:
But after a worrisome series of price spikes starting in 2007, oil triumphalism is once again ascendant. Companies are now using new technologies to extract crude from hard-to-reach sources, from the tar sands of Alberta to shale formations in North Dakota. After decades of decline, U.S. oil production has risen to its highest levels since the 1990s. And that’s led many analysts and journalists to confidently declare that “peak oil is dead.”
Not everyone’s convinced, however, that oil is really on the verge of a new boom. Energy analyst Chris Nelder, for one, has spent a lot of time scrutinizing the claims of the oil triumphalists. Our newfound oil resources, he argues, aren’t nearly as promising as they first appear. And peak oil is still as relevant as ever.
These drilling techniques and technologies are not new. They have been around for decades. What’s new is the tripling of price which made it possible and profitable to combine these technologies together and roll them out on an epic continent wide scale.
Secondly, these aren’t new found oil resources. These shale basins and tar sands have been known for decades. Again, what’s new is the tripling of price which made it possible and profitable to exploit these long known, marginal oil resources.
For more great info visit The Oil Drum. Ask questions in their news round up posts, the Drum Beat. There are lots of petroleum geologists, oil patch guys and other experienced folks submitting papers/posts and answering questions in the comment section.
Monsanto lobbyists have successfully pushed a last minute change into the Continuing Resolution spending bill which was approved by U.S. Congress recently. If not vetoed by President Obama, this will give Monsanto immunity from U.S. government action regarding the safety of any and all new GMO crops and will take away the Judiciary system’s constitutional mandate to review GMO crops to ensure the safety of both consumers and the environment.
Again, this has already been passed by congress so if you are against this, the only way to stop it now is to get President Obama to veto this bill when it reaches his desk.
Food Democracy Now has a petition currently organized to tell President Obama to veto it at fooddemocracynow.org.
This is just awful. I seriously doubt Obama would veto it, even if every last American signed the petition. Sad times we live in.
A great post by Richard Heinberg. The sequester and any other deficit reduction measures will reduce GDP in a nearly 1:1 ratio. If you think the private sector is going to step in and replace that government deficit spending in a recessionary environment then you are being delusional.
His recommendation is the way forward, but we won’t do it voluntarily.
The best way forward would be, yes, to continue deficit spending, with the Federal Reserve buying up most new Treasury debt and rebating the interest to the government (as it has been doing with its QE programs) … but—crucially—to shift that spending toward supporting a transition to a post-growth economy. Downsize the financial industry with re-regulation and a tax on financial transactions. Organize a massive debt jubilee. Provide incentives for the development of local cooperative enterprises geared toward import substitution. Create make-work programs building low-energy public transit, constructing renewable energy infrastructure, and insulating homes. Train a generation of young ecologically savvy farmers and provide them with the land and tools they’ll need to succeed.
The growth of the shale gas production rate has slowed tremendously over the past year compared with the year prior. This is due to many complex factors interacting with one another. Probably the biggest set of factors that impacted the production rate was the supply glut that triggered the pull back in drilling programs and the steep production decline curves of already producing shale wells.
Growth Rates of Shale Gas Production (all figures are approximate)
The Henry Hub spot price for natural gas bottomed out at around $1.90 per MMBtu (million British thermal units) in March of 2012. Since then it has rebounded to about $3.45 per MMBtu, an increase of 81.6%. This increase in price has finally stopped the declining rig count which has stabilized around 400 total natural gas drilling rigs (see graph below).
It will be interesting to watch this space over the next 12 months to see where prices, rig count and shale dry gas production goes.
WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday to force cops to get a warrant to spy on your email. It was a first step toward beating back the “growing and unwelcome intrusion into our private life in cyberspace,” as Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who offered the amendment, put it.
Well it looks like Glenn Greenwald’s observation about state abuses and what it takes to reign them in is proving true again. In an article I linked to a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Greenwald made the following observation (emphasis is mine):
It is usually the case that abuses of state power become a source for concern and opposition only when they begin to subsume the elites who are responsible for those abuses. Recall how former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman - one of the most outspoken defenders of the illegal Bush National Security Agency (NSA) warrantless eavesdropping program - suddenly began sounding like an irate, life-long ACLU privacy activist when it was revealed that the NSA had eavesdropped on her private communications with a suspected Israeli agent over alleged attempts to intervene on behalf of AIPAC officials accused of espionage. Overnight, one of the Surveillance State’s chief assets, the former ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, transformed into a vocal privacy proponent because now it was her activities, rather than those of powerless citizens, which were invaded.
This looks like a similar pattern being repeated here. Two high ranking intelligence and defense elites have been taken down by the very out of control surveillance system they had a hand in creating and now some other elites are moving to reign in said surveillance system.
“Neoliberalism is a philosophy which construes profit making as the essence of democracy and consuming as the only operable form of citizenship. It also provides a rationale for a handful of private interests to control as much as possible of social, economic, and political life in order to maximize their personal profit. Neoliberalism is marked by a shift from the manufacturing to the service sector, the rise of temporary and part-time work, growth of the financial sphere and speculative activity, the spread of mass consumerism, the commodification of practically everything. Neoliberalism combines free market ideology with the privatization of public wealth, the elimination of the social state and social protections, and the deregulation of economic activity. Core narratives of neoliberalism are: privatization, deregulation, commodification, and the selling off of state functions. Neoliberalism advocates lifting the government oversight of free enterprise/trade thereby not providing checks and balances to prevent or mitigate social damage that might occur as a result of the policy of “no governmental interference”; eliminating public funding of social services; deregulating governmental involvement in anything that could cut into the profits of private enterprise; privatizing such enterprises as schools, hospitals, community-based organizations, and other entities traditionally held in the public trust; and eradicating the concept of “the public good” or “community” in favor of “individual responsibility.”—Henry Armand Giroux (via azspot)