The Rolling Jubilee project is seeking donations to help it buy up distressed debts, including student loans and outstanding medical bills, and then wipe the slate clean by writing them off.
Individuals or companies can buy distressed debt from lenders at knock-down prices if it the borrower is in default or behind with payments and are then free to do with it as they see fit, including cancelling it free of charge.
As a test run the group spent $500 on distressed debt, buying $14,000 worth of outstanding loans and pardoning the debtors. They have now raised $115,000, which they say is enough money to buy and cancel more than $2.3 million of debt. After a variety show and telethon this Thursday, both sums will surely rise substantially.
David Rees, one of the organizers behind the project, writes on his blog: "This is a simple, powerful way to help folks in need - to free them from heavy debt loads so they can focus on being productive, happy and healthy.
"Now, after many consultations with attorneys, the IRS, and our moles in the debt-brokerage world, we are ready to take the Rolling Jubilee program live and nationwide, buying debt in communities that have been struggling during the recession."
A video released to promote the project says: "We shouldn't be forced into debt to cover basic needs like healthcare, housing and education. We need a jubilee, a clean slate. The math is on our side; a little bit of money goes a long way. If we can raise $50,000 we can buy a million dollars worth of debt and abolish it.
"We bailed-out the banks and in return they turned their backs on us. We don't owe them anything, we owe each other everything. It's time for a bail-out of the people, by the people."