First Person: Occupy Wall Street Forgive Me, for I Have Debt

Yahoo Contributor Network

I've heard of people doing random acts of kindness, but the new Strike Debt group's success at forgiving $1 million in random people's debt is truly inspiring. According to a recent CNNMoney article, Strike Debt is an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, the protest group that was the target of a lot of media attention and some cynicism during the recession.

I think it's inspiring to see a group of people do something positive to help people start over, fresh, after becoming burdened with medical bills that they can't afford to pay back. It's difficult for people to recover from an illness or disease when they have to go from chemotherapy treatments and surgeries to facing tens of thousands of dollars of debt. I know some of my family members have been financially devastated by unexpected medical bills.

Abolishing consumer debt

In addition to forgiving $1 million in medical debt for 1,000 people, Strike Debt also abolished $100,000 in consumer debt, according to CNNMoney. They raised money with "The People's Bailout," a variety show in 2012 when their "Rolling Jubilee" project began. It would be interesting to know if the people who were "bailed out" of their student loan debt or other consumer debt then turned around and helped other people facing massive debt.

Giving a hand

Some people would argue that forgiving people's debt is like giving them a handout. I disagree. I think interest cards with high interest rates put consumers at an unfair disadvantage. Many times, credit card companies never expect a person to pay back their debt. The fact is, the credit card companies are paid back for the initial purchase or charge. The consumer is left to pay the interest on the original principal amount that has compounded over time. As more people free themselves or others of consumer debt, credit card companies will have to offer more competitive rates. There is nothing wrong with loaning people money, but loaning money at high interest rates is unethical.

When Occupy Wall Street started, it had a lot of critics. People claimed they didn't have a real focus. I think Strike Debt has found a worthwhile cause that can help the average person overcome their financial struggles. After getting a new chance, many people want to give back to their community. I know after getting out of $50,000 worth of consumer debt in my 20s, I was changed forever. I didn't have any help from Strike Debt, but I would have been grateful for some assistance. Strike Debt randomly selected people to receive $900 toward their debt. Although $900 wouldn't have wiped out all of my debt, it would have motivated me to get out of debt even faster. Sometimes a person just needs to know other people care about their financial situation and won't judge them.

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