First there was a bailout for many of the nation's banks. Now comes one for some of their customers.
Strike Debt, a movement that emerged from the Occupy Wall Street movement, announced plans Friday to stage a variety show and telethon to raise money to buy and cancel consumer debt.
The event, which is slated for Nov. 15, will benefit "The Rolling Jubilee," a project that organizers say can raise awareness of what the group describes as predatory debt practices, debt resistance and mutual aid.
"We buy debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, we abolish it," Strike Debt says on its website. "We cannot buy specific individuals' debt – instead, we help liberate debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will, and collective refusal."
Organizers are billing the telethon, which will originate from Le Poisson Rouge, a bar in Manhattan's Greenwich Village neighborhood, as a "wild night of music, comedy, magic, education and the unexpected," according to the event's website.
Actor and comedian Janeane Garofalo, "Daily Show" co-creator Lizz Winstead, author and political scientist Frances Fox Piven of the City University of New York, guitarist Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth and other performers and activists from Strike Debt and Occupy Wall Street will gather to raise money to buy debt so they can forgive it.
For its part, Strike Debt, which did not respond immediately to a request for comment, works to educate consumers about the perils of debt in varied forms.
"Debt is the tie that binds the 99%, from recent graduates paying hundreds of dollars in interest every month on their student loans, to elderly homeowners underwater to the banks, to teachers and firefighters forced to take pay cuts because their cities are broke, to countries that that have to slash school and hospital budgets to pay back bondholders," the group writes on the telethon's website.
In September, Strike Debt and Occupy Wall Street published a "The Debt Resistors' Operations Manual," which "aims to provide specific tactics for understanding and fighting against the debt system so that we can all reclaim our lives and our communities," according to the preface.
The manual "contains practical information, resources and insider tips for individuals dealing with the dilemma of indebtedness in the United States today and also introduces ideas for those who have made the decision to take collective action."
Though Strike Debt has not detailed how it goes about buying or cancelling debt, the group says it is making progress. "Just two hours since launch and we're already halfway to our goal of $1M debt abolished," Strike Debt tweeted Friday.