Goodwill campaign frees thousands of Americans from $15m of debt


/ Economics & Innovation

02 Apr 2014


A group of former Occupy Wall Street activists have abolished nearly $15m (£9m) of Americans’ medical debt as part of a goodwill campaign to free debtors at random

A Strike Debt campaigner on a march from Washington Square to Union Square, 2013     Photo © Flickr member: The All-Nite Images

Thousands of Americans are free from debt thanks to a grassroots project called Rolling Jubilee.

It has raised $700,000 (£422,000) by crowdsourcing money to buy consumer debt on the secondary debt market for a fraction of its original value. It then spent $300,000 (£181,000) wiping out almost $15m (£9m).

So far, 3,801 people have benefited in 46 states and Puerto Rico, according to organisers.

“It was a godsend. I didn’t know these people,” 80-year-old Kentucky resident Shirley Logsdon told Agence France-Presse, after her medical bill was paid off.
According to Rolling Jubilee, 62% of bankruptcies are caused by medical illness.
The campaign is a project of Strike Debt – a group of former Occupy Wall Street activists in the US, who campaign for economic justice and democratic freedom.

Rolling Jubilee Fund vice president Thomas Gokey said: “We have no moral obligation to pay a debt to an investor who purchased our debt on average at 4% and then claims we owe 100%.”

However, critics say the campaign fuels the secondary debt market and fails to expose other reasons for consumer debt.

But Rolling Jubilee exceeded expectations. The original goal was to raise $50,000 (£30,000) and abolish $1m (£600,000). It now plans to eradicate other types of debt, such as student loans.


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  1. Steed says:

    So how do i find out if I am one of these blessed people who had that medical bill dept paid off? It would be sooo awesome not to have to claim bankruptcy before I finish College because I had my appendix removed.

  2. Palestine says:

    Youre in COLLEGE and you want your appendectomy paid off??? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, tard

    This is for people who have serious life expenses and no way out…ie. elderly or serious trauma…not Scooter (you, above)…ask Mommy & Daddy

    • Jefe says:

      @Palestine either you don’t live in the U.S., you’re unaware of how much medical procedures actually cost or you’re just an insensitive prick comfortable in your financially secure bubble. You also don’t know Steed’s familial situation. This guy: had his appendix removed and before insurance his bill was $55,000. Perhaps Steed’s family has insurance and can afford the bill, but perhaps Steed is putting him/herself through college, willfully taking on tens of thousands of dollars of debt because his/her family CAN’T afford it. You don’t know the situation. Don’t belittle other people’s problems just because you perceive them to be a certain way, lest you be the one who comes off as a “tard.”

      • Justin says:


      • Noodle says:

        Jefe, thank you for handling that cruel and uninformed comment with grace and intelligence. Steed, your opinion and frustration is completely valid, legitimate and normal. If someone else can’t put him/ herself in your shoes, that is their problem and makes them the ignorant one, not you.

  3. Les says:

    Take a look at this market carefully. Specifically designated US Medical Debt that’s collateralized and sold into the secondary market is primarily cosmetic – boob jobs and lipo. That’s the type of debt Occupy is forgiving, not cancer and heart disease. Those patients are poor credit risks for loans, bc they might die before the loan pay back period. If they take out loans to pay for life saving procedures, that’s usually collateralized against a home or something else, so it’s not consider “Medical Debt”.

  4. Blue Gal says:

    Absolutely not true, Les. In the States, secondary debt is what is referred to a collection agency. The hospital and surgery unit have given up collecting the money, and the agency will get a percentage of whatever they collect, which is why they are driven to harass the debtor. Buying that debt for a percentage of the total owed benefits everyone. The agency gets a cut, the hospital gets a write-off, and the patient is relieved of something they will never have enough money to pay. Occupy is doing a good work here by being the court presence on behalf of patients with nowhere else to go. PS no one is “given” optional plastic surgery in the US without payment up front.

There are 4 external links to this article:

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  3. Goodwill Campaign That Frees Thousands of Americans From Debt | Inspired Journeys
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