Give the gift of telling debt it’s busted

Break down the shakedown
By JEFF INGLIS  |  December 5, 2012

DROM_main
While you're out spending your hard-earned dollars on gifts for yourself and others at holiday and year-end sales, remember that money has to come from somewhere. Unless, of course, you're a Wall Street investment executive, or a banker. They get to invent money out of thin air. How come? Occupy Wall Street activists explain, in a new book about extracting yourself from America's drain-circling debt problem:

"We gave the banks the power to create money because they promised to use it to help us live healthier and more prosperous lives — not to turn us into frightened peons. They broke that promise. We are under no moral obligation to keep our promises to liars and thieves. In fact, we are morally obligated to find a way to stop this system rather than continuing to perpetuate it," writes the book's anonymous author collective.

As you might expect, the book, The Debt Resistors' Operations Manual, is free and openly downloadable as a PDF at strikedebt.org. Part manifesto, part history, and part step-by-step action plan, it's an easy read that stays away from overly technical language, preferring to stay high-level and comprehensible to most people who have dealt with the modern American financial system.

Observing that 76 percent of Americans are debtors (and one in seven is being pursued by debt collectors), a rhetorically strong introduction puts the lie to the idea that our debt crisis is the fault of irresponsible individuals who deserve moral chiding and no sympathy or help. If you weren't already upset by the chant that "Banks got bailed out; we got sold out," give page 2 a read.

So in this season of giving, the DROM is a reminder not to forget to save — yourself, from the vagaries of our economy. It's also a plea for collective action: "help beat the system that wants you to fail."

Make no mistake: Wall Street literally banks on the struggles of regular Americans. Can't afford education? No problem — you can borrow money, guaranteed by the government, with fees paying private companies to process the payments. Get sick or injured? No problem — medical-debt collectors will pack your bags and send you on a guilt trip as far away as they can, with no return until you pony up. What about living costs, or food? How about mortgage bundling, a credit card, a debit card, or — better yet (for them) — a prepaid charge card?

Worse than all that is how it snowballs into a credit score, which can affect not only your ability to get a loan, but even to find a rental apartment, or even a job. (How sick is that? Being short of money can prevent you from earning anything.)


SPECIFIC DETAILS

In sections divided by type of debt (credit cards, medical, student, housing, payday loans, and so on), the authors provide deep (but brief) histories of how each market got the way it is (you'll see a business-government collusion theme develop), followed by details of the current practices that make these industries so repellent. (Example: credit-card companies are now robo-signing documents claiming to own debt with no actual legal proof, just like mortgage lenders did.)

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