The writing manages emotion well, never becoming truly overwhelming, and always offering hope for a better world. Just when you're mad enough to want to act come the specific steps for rectifying almost any situation.

For example, there are solid suggestions about how to avoid having to use the usurious payday lenders without subjecting yourself to the full power of Big Finance.

Many of these ideas subvert the existing systems — like detailing a multi-month, multi-step letter-writing campaign to dispute validity of reports to credit-monitoring agencies, and even forcing debt collectors to prove they are empowered to seek repayment from you. It might be a pain to write and mail various letters, but you'll help keep the US Postal Service operating, and the dollars you'll need to spend will likely be far less than you owe. (Don't miss the super-clever way out of doctor and hospital bills, involving an overlap between collection laws requiring itemization of debts and medical-privacy laws barring disclosure of medical treatments to third parties.)


But rather than deciding it's enough to simply take advantage of the byzantine "consumer protection" regulations, the DROM also explores the sort of options that few official sources will tell you about — like how to escape payday-loan hell (it involves borrowing lots and then leaving the country) and mortgage resistance. (Occupy's unsurprising, but surprisingly effective basic rule: Don't leave; see a variant in the sidebar.)

The DROM also highlights the potential power of collective action. (Student debt in the US totals more than $1 trillion, and 41 percent of the college class of 2008 is already in default on their loans. Think of the power of the people!)

A goodly amount of the book is devoted to exploring how to play defense if you're already in a bad situation. But there is quite a lot there about playing offense too. The basic idea is a call for systemic reforms to align the US with other industrialized countries, many of which have far less wealth than we do — such as supporting universal health care and instituting free higher education.

A revolutionary book whose time has truly come, the DROM is worth much more than the time you’ll spend downloading it. It might even save the US economy, since nobody else will.

ONE THAT GOT AWAY:Here's an idea the DROM folks could use

We're no lawyers, but for people who can't afford their mortgage payments, rather than walking away, rather than trying to negotiate with a nameless, faceless bank — what if they just stayed? Pay the utilities, keep the lawn mowed, and even do some light maintenance. Stop paying the mortgage and just wait for the bank to come foreclose. There's the trick: Banks actually don't want to foreclose — it means taking a valuable asset off the books (the mortgage) and turning it into a lower-valued asset (the property at its actual worth) plus a liability (taxes and upkeep).

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