The issue of a debt jubilee, particularly for the $1trillion student debt load, is an idea whose time has definitely come, in fact is overdue. Most people have no idea what this idea implies or that it’s even possible. But remember: student tuition in most Western civilized countries is either totally free or subsidized with very low interest long-term loans. Get informed and organized and demand support for this concept from your elected representatives. Education at all levels is a fundamental right and a defining hallmark of what it means to be a civilization.
Below are three items to give you some historical and contemporary background information.:
The Jubilee (Hebrew yovel יובל) year is the year at the end of seven cycles of shmita (Sabbatical years), and according to Biblical regulations had a special impact on the ownership and management of land in the Land of Israel; there is some debate whether it was the 49th year (the last year of seven sabbatical cycles, referred to as the Sabbath’s Sabbath), or whether it was the following (50th) year. Jubilee deals largely with land, property, and property rights. According to Leviticus, slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest.
Could a Debt Jubilee Help Kickstart the American Economy?
The American economy is stuck in a consumer debt trap. Consumers and businesses, not to mention local and state governments, are still in the dregs of a balance sheet recession. Without increased government spending to mitigate the demand crisis, there’s little chance the economy will jump start on its own. And while there are job-killing regulations out there, these are small potatoes compared to the demand crisis and the fallout from the housing bubble.
Then again, Keynesian spending isn’t the only way to fix a balance sheet recession and get consumer spending to kick back in. There’s the old biblical idea of a jubilee – a national cancellation of private debts.
More than three years after the financial crisis struck, the economy remains stuck in a consumer debt trap. It’s a situation that could take years to correct itself. That’s why some economists are calling for a radical step: massive debt relief.
Renowned economist Stephen Roach, currently non-executive chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, has gone a step further, calling for Wall Street to get behind what others have called a “Debt Jubilee” to forgive excess mortgage and credit card debt for some borrowers. The notion of a Debt Jubilee dates back to biblical Israel where debts were forgiven every 50 years or so.
Student Debt Jubilee and Why Higher Education Ought to be Free.
Last December, the Backbone Campaign hosted our 84th Conversation with the Cabinet podcast entitled Student Debt Jubilee and Why Higher Education Ought to be Free. The Backbone Campaign was a key partner in Occupy Graduation.
On July 17th, we hosted a second Conversation on this topic. We were joined by incredible organizers using different tactics to demand higher education as a right. …In the last semester of his senior year, Glenn screened Default: The Student Loan Documentary and organized a May 1st Rally on campus that brought students, professors, activists, and union members together to speak about student and worker rights and debt.
We did a second Conversation on this topic because much has occurred since first one. In Canada, Montreal students went on strike, conducted ‘casserole‘ demonstrations with an expanded base of support, impacted the city’s economy, and met with government officials to demand the re-establishment of free higher education. Here in the U.S., student loan debt surpassed credit card debt in April, rising to $1 trillion; in the following weeks, organizers took to the streets in Washington, D.C., New York City, and elsewhere.
In addition, mainstream media coverage of politicians discussing the issue exploded in recent months; politicians need voter turnout among the 36 million Americans impacted by this issue. We have witnessed calculated sympathy for student debtors by presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. And although House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) worked tirelessly for years to increase profits for predatory student lenders, recently he was self-righteously tweeting that Democrats are to blame for the increasing impoverishment of student debtors. One of Boehner’s biggest campaign contributors is predatory lender Sallie Mae (which, like other lenders, also owns student debt collections agencies).
Only former Green Party Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein has publicly endorsed immediate student loan forgiveness and tuition-free higher education at public universities.