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Behind Occupy's Rolling Jubilee Debt Campaign, Personal Finance Book For Debtors And Defaulters

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OCCUPY WALL STREET DEBT
A masked protestors celebrating the one year anniversary of the Occupy Movement marches in the financial district Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) | AP

Occupy Wall Street alumni have hatched a new plan: Raise money and then bail people out of debt. The campaign, called Rolling Jubilee, kicks off Thursday night with a live-streaming telethon broadcast on the Jubilee's web site.

While Occupy's latest initiative may or may not succeed, Strike Debt, the group behind the Jubilee campaign, hopes to aid struggling debtors in another way: They have written a personal finance book. Unlike other educational money books, it's not for people who have money, but for people who don't.

The book, which is free of course, is called the Debt Resistors' Operations Manual. In very simple terms the book outlines strategies for haggling with creditors, the consequences to defaulting on loans and background on how financial institutions operate.

Occupiers published the book in September to mark the one year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests. It's sort of a 21st century equivalent to the Anarchists' Cookbook. (For the uninitiated, that is the 1971 underground hit that contained things like recipes for homemade explosives and advice on how to smoke banana peels to, like, get high.)

The Manual offers the kind of real-world advice that most personal finance books don't: a how-to guide for writing angry letters and defaulting on a payday loan. There is even a sidebar from an anonymous payday industry employee, offering a step-by-step plan of how to take down the industry altogether. (In sum: It's a far-fetched plan requiring 1,000 people and four different countries.)

The book also lists all things a defaulter can expect to happen if he or she walks away from student loans, for example: The consequences can include garnished wages, lawsuits, withheld Social Security benefit payments, and even losing the right to renew some professional licenses.

For people with serious debt problems, the most helpful part of the book may be the appendix, which offers dozens of templates to write creditors and credit reporting agencies to dispute or counter claims. It also offers advice solid advice for anyone who has a terrible credit score: Create your own credit report with reference letters and job history.

The book was written anonymously by a "collective of resistors, defaulters, and allies from Strike Debt and Occupy Wall Street," but also has ties to British anthropologist and author David Graeber, author of Debt: The First 5,000 Years.

Of course, much like the original Anarchists' Cookbook, some of the ideas presented in the book are just plain illegal, or could be fatal, financially speaking, such as walking away from massive debt. But it's a rousing read nevertheless for anyone who has felt under the thumb of creditors.

The best free advice for the book: Use your company's printer to print the thing out. It's 122 pages long.

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