In Chapter 6, we examine Jesus’ economic plan, the Jubilee.
God commands Moses to observe a “jubilee,” a holy year that where the community’s balance sheet would be straightened out. In the year of Jubilee, debts would be forgiven and lands returned to their rightful owners. In the year of Jubilee, any Jew enslaved by another would be set free. During this holy year, injustice would be righted, oppression would cease, and the people would experience safety and fruitfulness in their land.
This is the “good news” that Jesus announces as he starts his ministry. He reads from Jubilee scripture, Isaiah 61, and announces his plan. “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18-19) Jesus does have an economic model, and it’s not “free market,” that is, unregulated capitalism.
“Unregulated” capitalism tends to run the economy into a ditch over and over from the Great Depression that began after the “crash” of 1929 to the Great Recession of 2008 and the many economic downturns in between.
Instead of producing good jobs, our current economy manufactures debt and without sufficient regulation, this debt brought down the economic house. We can’t let that happen again. In addition, we have to deal with the pile of debt that is now imperiling the middle class and driving people further and further into poverty.
A new Occupy project called “Rolling Jubilee” brings this Biblical idea into the 21st century. By donating at Rolling Jubilee individuals can give money to buy up distressed consumer debt that is normally sold to debt collectors for pennies on the dollar. But instead of acting like debt collectors, hounding folks for the full payment, you are giving to cancel the debt, that is, forgive it.
So much of our current economic crisis is a debt crisis. One area is student debt, and the other is the mortgage crisis that has become a foreclosure crisis. Both of these are very much a part of the #Occupy movement as it has evolved from 2011. In fact, student debt has been called the “new front” for the #OWS movement. The new iconic face of #Occupy is the masked “Unemployed Super Hero,” wearing a cape and a ball and chain marked “Student Loans.”