Citizens in the United States, and the rest of the world, have been saddled with an inescapable amount of debt. The average US household has more than $8,000 in credit card debt, up from about $3,000 in 1990. At 18% interest, $8000 will take more than 25 years to repay and ultimately cost more than $24,000. American students are graduating already deep in debt: the average student has $20,000 in student loans (source). I propose a novel solution to the consumer debt crisis: a Blackspot Collection Agency that buys and burns debt.
What happens when a person is unable to pay their debts? After receiving a few nasty calls and letters their debt is usually written off as a business loss and sold to a third-party collection agency. The third-party collection agency then legally owns the debt and may either try to collect the debt or may sell it again. By the time the debt reaches the stage of being sold for the third time, it is worth considerably less because the capitalist's hopes of recovering the full amount are slim. For example, in the screen capture above, you will notice that $2528.67 worth of credit card debt is currently being sold for only $110.91. There is someone out there in Klawock, Alaska whose $2528 worth of old credit card debt could be forgiven for pennies on the dollar.
What if we created a Blackspot Collection Agency that purchased old debt and forgave it? Doing so would undermine the foundations of the debt society by encouraging widespread debt disobedience by people who hope the Blackspot Collection Agency will buy and forgive their debt. And by forgiving the debt of average people, the Blackspot Collection Agency would prove that the anti-capitalists are doing more for the "common man" than the mega-corporations.
Could a Debt Forgiveness Agency work? What other ways can we escape consumer society's debt trap?
Micah M. White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters Magazine and an independent activist. Micah is currently writing a book of philosophical meanderings into the future of activism. He lives in Binghamton, NY with his wife and two cats. www.micahmwhite.com