Occupy Wall Street 2.0: The Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual

The anniversary of Occupy Wall Street is September 17. While there will be public events in New York, it’s likely that number of people that will be involved will not be large enough to impress the punditocracy (multi-citi militarized crackdowns have a way of discouraging participation), leading them to declare OWS a flash in the pan.

That conclusion may be premature.

The release of the The Debt Resistors’ Manual suggests something very different: that the movement is still alive, if much less visible, and is developing new avenues for having impact. This guide is designed not only to give individuals advice for how to be more effective in dealing with lenders but also sets forth some larger-scale ideas. This is a project of a new OWS group, Strike Debt. Fighting for debt renegotiation and restructuring, something that the bank-boosting legacy parties have refused to do, is becoming a new focus for OWS efforts.

Quite a few well qualified people who in Occupy fashion are going unnamed, participated in developing this manual. Having read most of the chapters in full and skimmed the rest, I find that this guide achieves the difficult feat of giving people in various types of debt an overview of their situation, including political issues, and practical suggestions in clear, layperson-friendly language. For instance, the chapter on credit ratings gives step-by-step directions as to how to find and challenge errors in your credit records, and what sort of timetable and process is realistic for getting results. The chapter on dealing with debt collectors is similarly specific and detailed. The discussion of the bankruptcy process includes this section:

One detailed law study found that bankruptcy laws, specifically Chapter 13, implicitly favor a certain profile, an “ideal debtor,” who is usually white and married. Most bankruptcy laws tend to favor wealth over income, ownership over renting, formal dependents over informal dependents and heterosexual married couples, all of which have significantly higher rates in white communities. Before 2005, African Americans filed for Chapter 13 nearly 50% of the time, compared to less than 25% by whites. Why, you may ask? Here’s one explanation: a study found that when all other factors are equalized (identical financial cases), lawyers are twice as likely to steer Black clients toward Chapter 13 than they are white clients. The study could find no other cause besides racism in all forms: conscious, unconscious, structural and institutional.

The manual also includes two chapters on “fringe finance”, meaning financial services for the barely banked or underbanked, including check cashing outlets, prepaid cards, payday lenders, and pawn shops. It stresses that these are tantamount to a poverty tax, since low income people pay more for these services.

Each chapter has a list of resources at the end, including websites, articles and books, as well as footnotes. Some end with ideas for collective action, others with survival strategies. And it presents a manifesto:

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.

This collective act of resistance may be the only way of salvaging democracy because the campaign to plunge the world into debt is a calculated attack on the very possibility of democracy. It is an assault on our homes, our families, our communities and on the planet’s fragile ecosystems—all of which are being destroyed by endless production to pay back creditors who have done nothing to earn the wealth they demand we make for them.

To the financial establishment of the world, we have only one thing to say: We owe you nothing. To our friends, our families, our communities, to humanity and to the natural world that makes our lives possible, we owe you everything. Every dollar we take from a fraudulent subprime mortgage speculator, every dollar we withhold from the collection agency is a tiny piece of our own lives and freedom that we can give back to our communities, to those we love and we respect. These are acts of debt resistance, which come in many other forms as well: fighting for free education and healthcare, defending a foreclosed home, demanding higher wages and providing mutual aid.

You can download the manual here or from the link below. Strike Debt will also be handing out hard copies of the manual in Washington Square Park on Saturday from 10:30 AM till 7:30 PM and at Judson Church from 7:30 PM till 9:30 PM.

Occupy Wall Street/Strike Debt: The Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual

Update: Please note that this document was removed by ScribD over our vociferous protests. They apparently received a complaint from someone associated with Strike Debt about a copyright violation. We pointed out to ScribD that Strike Debt had asked us to publish the manual, and that it had clearly displayed a Creative Commons License which allowed for it to be freely published and redistributed. That did not make any difference to ScribD. They don’t adjudicate complaints. They just react.

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70 comments

  1. psychohistorian

    I like the manifesto at the end. It warms my heart.

    In 8 days I turn 64 and have had the Beatles song When I’m Sixty-Four going on in my head for the past few. I was almost radical in the late 60’s and know some other early Boomers that are going to have fun being almost radical again.

    I keep wondering what Sir Paul thinks about the world of the global inherited rich and revolution now? We know what John would think.

  2. CB

    I do not have a FB account and I am not signing up for one. I really resent the coercion in putting this document on a forced sign up site. If it’s free, hang it on the web where anyone can download it.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I have no idea what you are talking about.

      You do not need a Facebook account to download from ScribD, or for that matter, from Dropbox.

      1. CB

        I followed your link………..to FB. That’s what I’m talking about. ScribD requires a FB account. Dropbox is sign up. What are you talking about?

        1. Guy Fawkes

          Scribd does not require a FB account. Neither does Dropbox. Jesus. I thought people on this site were the more intelligent of the online community?

          1. Skaperen

            Scribd requires a signup, at FB, or elsewhere, or their own site. This is contrary to being “off the grid”. The document should have been placed on a site that covers their costs through non-tracking advertising.

          2. Francois T

            @Publius:

            “Then you obviously haven’t read any of the site’s content.”

            For people like you who’s looking for intelligent readers and content, there’s always newsmax.com and michellemalkin.com…

      2. CB

        And in any case, why are you defending? My objection is with Strike Debt. Or any of the FB/twitter/livestream/linkedin/etc devotees who assume EVERYBODY uses [fill in the blank]. No, everybody doesn’t. Quite a few everybodies. Maybe some of these groups would get wider audiences if they understood that.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          1. I put the document on ScribD. And you do NOT need FB to download, I have no FB account and I can UPLOAD, fer Chrissakes. And as LucyLulu points out, look at the bottom of the image in the post, you can download from there.

          2. You can also download from Dropbox (the link in the text, “here”).

          Again, I repeat, I have no idea what you are talking about.

          1. Bob Haugen

            > Again, I repeat, I have no idea what you are talking about.

            What people are talking about is the most visible Download button on Scribd, the first one you come to, which does require either a FB account or a Scribd signup process.

            Thank you and LucyLulu for providing and pointing out other options, but what CB was talking about was obvious to me when I followed the Scribd link.

          2. LucyLulu

            When it comes to computers and the internet, there is always more than one way to skin a cat. Usually at least three or four. If at first you don’t succeed…. if you try again, you’ll improve your computer literacy, and soon alternative paths will become intuitive.

            My apologies to my fellow feline afficionados for the gruesome analogy.

      3. Skaperen

        Aside from the “going around the signup” link someone posted, scribd still requires a signup somewhere, if even their own site. The principle of being “off grid” also means not doing signups at these sites. Uploading to another site that covers their costs through non-tracking advertising would be a good thing to do. That, or just post the “go around” link directly.

        While I do support being “off grid”, I do not support things like theft or illegal activities. A “go around” link probably isn’t theft as they certainly could, if competent, block access making no such link workable. So since it does work, it’s probably legal, but I cannot say for sure. If in doubt, don’t use it, and look for the manual to appear on file shoring (no doubt it will).

  3. Middle Seaman

    Just downloaded the manifesto without difficulty. It makes me proud to see, through this post, such a serious work/contribution. We have to start to resist. Hopefully, civil disobedience will suffice. Although, since 50% of the population votes for complete and utter crazies, I doubt we can avoid less peaceful means.

      1. Fred Fnord

        Goodness, yes. That tactic sure is making the US a better place. I mean, if fewer people had done that in 2000, we might have had a president who believed global warming was an actual important issue, and then where would we have been?

  4. alex

    Lets see, the authors know the law, they know personal finance, they know these things in a practical boots-on-the-ground way, and they write well. They sound very dangerous. I like that. Bonus points if they wear shirts and ties.

  5. Norman

    An educated mind, is a dangerous mind. We may be witnessing the start of the revolution that has to happen. Whether it’s a peaceful one, without the usual violence, remains to be seen. Those who are complacent, will be on the losing end of things, especially if it gets hot, as it surely will with the attitude[s] prevelent today in the political arena.

  6. citalopram

    This is excellent. Educating consumers on the most important weapon in their arsenal is great. Thanks for posting this.

  7. docG

    How earnest. How sad. The document looks like one of those legal “agreements” we are expected to endorse (after claiming we’ve read them) anytime we download software. No one’s going to read it, and whoever does read it is going to feel overwhelmed, so what’s the point?

    There is only one way to undermine a system so firmly entrenched as this one. Encourage it to destroy itself. So if it’s promoting obscene and ultimately self destructive lending practices, then push that tendency to an extreme by borrowing even more. Borrow to the hilt! But do it in an organized, coordinated way, via an organization like OWS.

    Instead of occupying Wall St. for the umpteenth time, why not occupy the student loan offices in every College and University in the country? But instead of staging protests, stage borrow-ins. Encourage all students to borrow to the hilt, borrow way more than anyone could ever be expected to pay back. But do it en masse. Let the system choke on its own excess!

    For details, see: http://amoleintheground.blogspot.com/2012/07/consume-mass-quantities.html

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You are operating from yesterday’s playbook.

      You apparently missed the coordinated paramilitary crackdowns in 17 cities on OWS encampments. If you don’t think they’d do the same to students on campuses (with a little delay as the politics are negotiated with the educational institutions in question) you are smoking something very strong.

      The only way getting people out on the street will work is if the numbers are huge (like hundreds of thousands in a single city, beyond the ability of the police to have more than a marginal impact) and/or general strikes.

      1. docG

        Read my comment again, Yves. Also the blog post I linked to. I’m not advocating organized protests of the confrontational type. I’m advocating something far more subtle and insidious: a protest movement based not on confrontation but overly enthusiastic cooperation, Good Soldier Schweik style. No one will call the cops, because we’ll be giving them what they think they want: more loan applications. Only we’ll make sure to stuff it down their throats.

        My advocacy is tongue in cheek, natch, because I don’t really expect OWS to endorse that sort of thing and it could backfire for sure. My point is that the system is inherently self destructive, and yes, this is exactly what the Fed thinks will be helpful. It won’t. But the process is taking much too long, so it would be nice to figure out some way to help it self-destruct more rapidly and efficiently.

  8. F. Beard

    Nice to see!

    However, the counterfeiting cartel has cheated non-debtors too (ask any Austrian; of course they have no sympathy for debtors).

    A debtor, non-debtor alliance would include everyone by definition. So why not? Except for the very rich who isn’t cheated by the banks?

    But progress is progress…

  9. sierra7

    Bottom line:
    What about not using debt at all to “finance” your life(style)?
    That would (will) be the “true” revolution…..
    DUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

    1. F. Beard

      No. When counterfeiters are lending the choice is borrow or be priced out of the market by those who do borrow.

      The system drives people into debt so blaming debtors is unjust.

    2. G.G. Allin

      You should do some reading on why the American working class began borrowing so much money a few decades ago. Also, I might look into who derived the overwhelming benefit from this change.

    3. jdowd

      you do realize that if everybody did that our economy would crash worse than any depression we’ve ever experienced. Imagine if everyone who owed money stopped spending. Everyone with a credit card balance, a student loan, or any other debt they had trouble keeping up with decided to stop buying non necessities. How many stores would go under in 6 months? How many more after all those businesses go bankrupt and their employees are out of work?

      Until workers gain the power to push wages up, “irresponsible spending” is all we got keeping this economy afloat.

  10. Kevin Harvey Oswald

    I aggree with the OWS movement (and yes marched along in Milwaukee last year) but doubt that camping / marching / sign waving will accomplish anything. I assume the establishment would let that sort of thing go on indefinitely. (The police are another matter.) What will get the attention of the rentiers is if we withold payment, either in cash or labor. And it doesn’t have to be overly dramatic: a 1 day general strike or an organized “skip a bank payment for a month” event.

  11. JEHR

    I am so impressed by the way the Occupy Movement has morphed into advisory groups (Occupy the SEC) and self-help information (how to get out of debt manual). The movement has become our hidden weapon against the plutocracy.

    Growing up, I was taught never to get into debt. About the only time debt is needed is to obtain a higher education and for owning a home. The rest of the time, you pay as you go. Or you save for something in particular that you want or need. We were poor but never did without the essentials.

    Never owing anything has its drawbacks. I do not have a credit rating because I have never paid installments on anything. (I have to use my husband’s credit rating for cards, etc.) My credit card is used in emergencies (or when that is the only way to pay such as for an airline ticket) and is paid off right away.

    1. LucyLulu

      Just a guess, but you’re part of the baby boomer generation?

      When we were younger, we could graduate college without astronomical debt. In fact, most people I knew graduated with no debt or little debt. Tuitions were reasonable. Pay was at a level that you could live on, even one income households were commonly sufficient. A VW bug still cost under $1000 until the 1970’s. Heck, in the 50’s and 60’s, some people still paid cash for their homes, but the average home could be bought for twice the annual median salary.

      Today, you have students graduating with tens of thousands of student loans. If they find employment, it is little over minimum wage. If they need a car to get to work, when have they had the opportunity to save several thousand to buy a reliable used car? (Not everyone is mechanically inclined to fix their own cars.) At the peak of the bubble, home prices averaged close to 5x median annual salaries and in some markets close to 10x annual salary. Discretionary income has vanished. One unexpected problem and basic living expenses get put on the credit card.

      It’s harder now.

      1. Lucy (but not that Lucy)

        AbsoLulutely! :)
        Where the banks are set up as Too Big Too Fail, ordinary people are set up as Too Insignificant to Succeed. Housing, healthcare, education and everything else have all grown disproportionately so that what was once attainable by hard work is now only gained through hardship.

        I understand restraint is needed. We have been enculturated into debt, and to break that cycle we must do our part. But as things stand, it’s not as simple as just going without little luxuries. As a nation (U.S.A. – the RWAs’ so-called “greatest country in the world”), we are devolving into a warmongering, cannibalistic survival mode when we should be thriving into a greater, more enlightened existence. Those of us who want better are told that it’s the “law of the jungle” and “survival of the fittest” (for decades at least) by those who profit from keeping us desperate enough to behave like animals toward one another.

        For example, we are still telling our children that an education is the ticket to prosperity when it is more and more untrue – and even a faster road to debt for most. When the average American has to choose debt to educate him- or herself while keeping a roof over one’s head, then discovers the “responsible” choice could end up causing MORE poverty and not less, there is something seriously out of balance.

        It is well past the time to duck and cover and wait for the system to crash and burn. We will, if we don’t do something, burn out first.

    2. Mel

      The lasting good from OWS will be in teaching people how to rediscover politics, so that politics will no longer be something that’s done “for” them.

  12. Tyzao

    The document is interesting, but there really isn’t anything radical inside. How about something with some teeth.

      1. reslez

        The gold standard solves nothing. If you think governments will cheat under fiat but not cheat under gold, you don’t understand what cheating is. If you think you can make an amendment that prevents the government from cheating, why tie it to gold?

        The gold standard is unjust. People who happened to stockpile a lot of gold end up big winners. Or are you going to confiscate their gold first? Why should growth in the money supply depend on how much gold we dig out of the ground every year? The money supply should grow based on the growth of our population and economy, not the geographic distribution of shiny rocks.

        1. John Regan

          Well. The gold standard was only part of the proposal. The other big part was the jubilee idea. What did you think, if anything, about that?

          Perhaps as important as either is the recovery of the mechanism of self government, to remind a populace that seems to have forgotten that it can still amend its constitution, that it isn’t in the end subject to the “policies” wonks and technocrats – unless it agrees to be.

          Finally, I just addressed some of your concerns about a gold standard earlier this morning:

          http://strikelawyer.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/fiscal-cliff/#comment-2458

          But again, that is not the main thing. The jubilee is.

          1. F. Beard

            A gold standard is fascist, you ninnie! Cui bonbo? You?

            Why not a FB’s hair clipping standard? My hair is rare, difficult to counterfeit, etc. So why not?

            Begone goldbug!

      2. Tyzao

        how about something realistic, what we need is a handbook for attacking the kleptocracy in every legal jurisdiction throughout the country, jam the system and shut it down until they agree to change, that is the only thing that will work, is to take away the means of their control, and the only way to do that is to spam them through the existing institutional mechanisms, county, district courts, banking offices throughout the country

        additionally, it would nice to give the banks a taste of their own medicine, something like a reverse robocaller for every bank employee in the country, how about that, if they can do it to us, why cant we do it to them

        as for the foreclosures, there is very little in the manual about potential legal approaches — for example, why not transfer the deed to a second party, set up leases to the owner, for 99 years each year for 1 dollar, or something like this — OK maybe 1 dollar wont work, but come up with some algorithm which is so complicated it is terribly impossible for the mills to argue it in court

        attack the legal system, locally — that’s the solution, additionally, attack the banks directly, legally, using the existing telephone network would be a good start, e-mail spam, etc…

        what’s good for the goose …

        1. John Regan

          I don’t know why you don’t think of a constitutional amendment as being “realistic”. There have been 27 of them. There have even been amendments in response to popular pressure. Unfortunately, one such was prohibition.

          Still, that got corrected after a while, also as a result of popular pressure.

          As I say, it seems we have to recover our sense of the law, and our belief that through the law we can govern ourselves. That, at least, has been the idea for some time.

          1. Tyzao

            look, I’m not saying you do or don’t have a good idea there on your webpage, that’s not my point — I just don’t think there is any way the current system can change without some kind of systemic overhaul. Here’s exhibit A, the entire world financial system nearly collapses primarily due to massive and widespread corruption in the Mortgage market, and what is the solution — we bail all the crooks who are liable for the collapse, because they hold the global market hostage in the first place. The system is not for the American people and its not going to change. Come up with all the good ideas for how to do it better, but it simply doesn’t matter, because the people who truly do control our government, could care less … it’s that simple.

            The result is going to be a general decentralization and decoupling of any existing vertically integrated institutions, unless we completely rethink the different levels of spatial subdivisions which comprise the USA. The system is simply too inefficient to exist and at some point will start to crack.

            We need real democracy in the worst way possible, and until that happens, the long slow painful demise will just continue.

          2. Tyzao

            here’s another idea, turn facebook into a voting booth, it’s not really that new of an idea actually — don’t focus so much on legitimizing individuals, while that is important, there is no way that legal, on-line electronic voting is going to happen anytime soon, instead just start a parallel voting system, which in fact competes with the existing system of government. try to implement it at the local level and see where the seeds start to grow.

            Its remarkable to me how much time Americans have started to spend on the internet sharing our thoughts etc… but how little time we spend actually voting. Why couldn’t interested citizens vote once per week, if not more!

  13. Dean

    I like where the manifesto is heading. It is a practical approach to operating within the existing system of debt service and financial complexity. However, it does not go far enough. This manual proscribes how to fight while entrapped in the system. Again a very practical manual for trying times.

    The following phrase from XI troubles me:
    “The reason you have tens of thousands
    of dollars of student loan debt or medical bills that you
    cannot pay is because we live in a society that refuses to
    make education and health care accessible and free to all. You didn’t make some horrible mistake to get into the
    situation you are in.”

    Without a doubt, unfortunate circumstances do put people into serious debt. However, there are many others who opted for the good life and lived beyond their means, who bought into the trap of easy credit and lived a lifestyle they couldn’t afford.

    If this movement is to be truly viable, the next logical step in my opinion is to show people how to stop playing within the rules of the existing system. I’m not talking anarchy or protest.

    I’m talking about making meaningful individual choices: Eschew debt and pay cash. Live a simpler life and within ones means. Buy local from your farmers market. Cut the cable cord. Kill the television.

    Find every way you can to “opt out” as much as you can of the current system. Don’t buy into ‘the American dream’ as it is portrayed through the mass media. Seek out your own happiness. This is when real change will take place.

    I understand that to get there people need to operate within the system. But without a corresponding change in personal choices about what kind of life one wants to lead, the debt treadmill may not end.

    1. alex

      “Without a doubt, unfortunate circumstances do put people into serious debt. However, there are many others who opted for the good life and lived beyond their means”

      I agree but the manual specifically mentioned medical bills and student loans. The former would clearly be due to unfortunate circumstances (and our insane ripoff medical-industrial complex).

      Student loans are a little different. Yes, some people pay outrageous tuition for degrees that, realistically speaking, won’t help them earn the money to pay back the loans. But what about people who graduated with a degree that just a few years ago would let you get a good job, but now find that there are no such jobs. What about people who had to drop out due to personal circumstances (e.g. family problems). What about people who flunked out because they couldn’t do as well as they hoped? Is that now a crime that should be punished with lifelong debt? Should only children of the rich be allowed to take the chance of trying an academic program that they might not be cut out for?

      1. alex

        Free healthcare and free (or at least low cost) education? Clearly the people who wrote that are wild radicals from some dangerously radical and unstable country like, uh, North Korea? No… Iran? No… Canada, that’s it! Quick, let’s close the borders.

        1. Lucy

          Okay, great idea! Let’s leave all the stingy prosperity-gospel preaching right wingers who think you must be a bad person if you’re poor, tie them together within their precious borders and lock it down.

          But let me get out on the next refugee boat, first. :)

  14. pws (@pws4)

    I spoke to a Bankruptcy Lawyer in a free consultation the other day…. she advised me to commit suicide…

    (Rimshot)

    Seriously, these are the jokes folks…

  15. LucyLulu

    One of my neighbors turned their keys into the bank this last weekend. Her dad would occasionally help me with “man” things, like carrying a cast iron fireback into my house and putting it in my fireplace for me (it had to weigh 100 pounds). Their young teen daughter has walked my dog sometimes for a couple years. She has a little brother. The daughter, Hannah, came over to tell me. She acted excited about the move. Closer to school and dance and downtown (if you call it that) and all that. Give it a couple weeks, and there won’t be any excitement left, just reality.

    They lost the home they had for several years. Both parents work. He’s a supervisor for the city, been there a long time (union? this is NC) This is a working class neighborhood, neat but modestly priced homes. I feel so bad for them.

  16. steelhead23

    This is great. Perhaps it is presumptuous of this mere spectator, but while educating debtors may the most immediate need, educating our children to avoid becoming debtors/bankster victims is more important to achieving the goal, as expressed in the manifesto – destroying the stranglehold of the creditors on our lives and environment.

    This would not be easy. TPTB control curriculums and textbook selections. I suspect the first thing such an effort at developing a curriculum to teach elementary finance and money management to this nation’s children would create is controversy. But controversy would be a good thing. It would bring awareness – and awareness is sorely lacking.

    It astounds me the level of propaganda (advertising) encouraging Americans to be debtors as inducements to consume. Even here on NC one can find arguments that WE are a consumer-based economy. I recently read that 70% of the American economy is fed through consumption – a statement I find hard to comprehend. In the final analysis, one cannot consume more than one produces on an ongoing basis. Where is the counter-argument to “borrow to get _____ (ahead, what you want, etc.)”? The U.S. Government should be the counter-propagandist here, encouraging people to be productive and frugal and to save today for tomorrow’s needs. In stark contrast, yesterday we had the Chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank mentioning, almost as an aside, that his policies are designed to hurt savers – in order to do what? Maintain the health of his true benefactors – the 1%?

    In short, Good Start OWS, but don’t rest on your laurels, there is much to do.

  17. McWatt

    I walked into Doc Daneeka’s tent looking for some advice and he told me:

    “Catch-22 says they can do anything we can’t stop them from doing.”

  18. aletheia33

    for decades now, the 12-step program debtors’ anonymous has been a place where people overwhelmed by debt can find support and valuable information (available nowhere else) in how to establish a happy and rewarding life free of the fear of debt collection proceedings and loss of credit rating, etc., while paying off one’s debt in as small increments as one wishes/needs to.

    the middle classes live in abject fear of the creditor, debt collector, credit rating agency, and stigma of bankruptcy because people simply have not had access to the kind of information on offer at d.a. and in this wonderful new manual. as middle class impoverishment spreads, more and more this fear will be replaced by realism, as it already has been for many.

    i am thrilled to see Occupy working so constructively to help all those who think they are trapped in debt realize that the trap is to a large extent comprised simply of intimidation, and that with some of the right kind of guidance and thought, one can get free. life’s problems and our society’s problems must still be faced, but once one has attained freedom from such imaginary constraints, one has gained the power to live more freely in many additional ways. this manual, if it can be disseminated widely enough, can help many to do this.

    the throwing off of punitive, unjust, and soul-destroying “debt,” along with accompanying excessive fear, could in itself constitute a social and political revolution of magnificent proportion.

    VIVE LA DEFAULT!!!

  19. Christophe

    Starving the parasitic economic system is indeed a necessary interim goal towards establishing a healthy one. Unfortunately, a brief survey of successful parasites well-adapted to exploiting their ecological niche makes it all too clear that starving the parasite often requires starving the host. Banks are nothing if not well-adapted to exploiting their economic niche.

    I would argue along with several previous commenters that avoiding all debt (starving the parasite) is not a healthy option for most citizens (it would starve the host.) A healthier way to starve the parasites is to make use of forms of debt that do not involve banks or other financial institutions. Those would include lending and borrowing directly with friends and family, and bartering goods and services with unequal delivery dates.

    It all comes down to keeping track of communal reciprocity, which is basically the only service banks offer. Most “primitive” peoples make that a cultural priority and manage it quite well, so why does our “advanced” population require banks (and pay them handsomely) to keep track of our communal reciprocity? Are we that much less competent than our “primitive” counterparts? Obviously, I am not suggesting that business forgo banking, but individuals could make much lighter use of banks than is our norm.

    As an example, I am paying off the mortgage on my New York apartment by borrowing the money form my sister. The headache of shopping mortgage rates, closing costs, and points gone in one phone call. Her headache of shopping around for a decent yield on her savings by investing in risky assets gone in one phone call. We’re taking the borrowing and the lending away from the banks and keeping it in the community. Of course, we are having a real estate lawyer is draw up the mortgage to be as safe and binding as any bank loan. I am still paying interest on my debt, but it is going to my sister. Somehow, that makes me happier than paying a bank.

  20. Patrick

    The document is a pretty good compendium on how to handle debt issues at the individual level and I certainly appreciate the efforts of the people who took time to create it. They are speaking to the disenfranchised and that is good. OWS may be the only movement speaking to that demographic right now. The advice is nothing new, however, nothing that is not widely available through other sources. Overall, it lacks revolutionary zeal.
    A practical note: If you rip off a payday loan lender, make sure you open a separate checking account. Make sure that account is open for at least thirty days. Open multiple accounts with several different payday lenders. Once they all deposit, withdraw the funds and close that account. Payday lenders don’t credit report often, so the only bother is the debt collectors. Send a cease and desist once they start contacting you and you are all good. Free money. The handbook states you should secure a pre-paid phone to misguide their collection efforts. All collection agencies, even the shady payday sorts, use data aggregators like accurint and tlo.com to locate you (and your family). Whether you provide a bogus ssn or phone number, they will be able to find you using those skip-tracing tools if they even have a scrap of relevant personal information. They have no leverage and sue in only the rarest instances.

  21. Linda

    i want to thank occupy for this effort.

    i noticed another reply complaining about having to be part of facebook or other social media in order to see the pamphlet and the reply to that complaint that you can see a pdf document by using the “download here” link. i did this. it worked. however, i would like to point out that the print is jumbled on the left margin and difficult to read. if this could be rectified, it would be greatly appreciated. thanks again, occupiers, for all you’ve contributed to the cause.

  22. Linda

    ok. i just posted my problem about the print being jumbled and as i scrolled back up, i found another “download” button which produced a perfect pdf document. sorry for the confusion.

  23. Carol Anne

    Be warned:

    The document is 5.5″ x 8.5″; if you want to print it out, it takes 132 pages!

    I tried to export from PDF to Word so I could reformat, but they have “hidden text” that corrupts that export and renders it useless. I was planning on giving paper copies to people I know who don’t have a computer, but who need to see this information.

    I hate to waste 66 pages of paper, when I could print it as a “booklet” on 33 pages.

    I’d even buy a copy, if it were available;

    Not useful techniques for making sure everybody who needs it can have it. Your efforts to “copy protect” your PDF is just a trick the 1% use all the time to thwart customer needs.

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