Proclaim liberty throughout all the land

Proclaim liberty throughout all the land October 4, 2011

My plan for economic recovery is as all-American as the Liberty Bell and as “values-voter” friendly as the Ten Commandments.

Here it is: Declare a year of Jubilee — “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

And no, I’m not kidding. Neither are some economists, as Jennifer Ablan and Matthew Goldstein report for Reuters:

More than three years after the financial crisis struck, the economy remains stuck in a consumer debt trap. It’s a situation that could take years to correct itself. That’s why some economists are calling for a radical step: massive debt relief.

Federal policy makers, they suggest, should broker what amounts to an out-of-court settlement between institutional bond investors, banks and consumer advocates – essentially, a “great haircut” to jumpstart the economy. …

Renowned economist Stephen Roach, currently non-executive chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, has gone a step further, calling for Wall Street to get behind what others have called a “Debt Jubilee” to forgive excess mortgage and credit card debt for some borrowers. The notion of a Debt Jubilee dates back to biblical Israel where debts were forgiven every 50 years or so. In an August appearance on CNBC, Roach said debt forgiveness would help consumers get through “the pain of deleveraging sooner rather than later.”

The Jubilee laws, laid out in Leviticus 25, ensured that no one would ever become forever trapped in debt, dependence or poverty.

Those laws aren’t widely read or well known, but part of that chapter is familiar to many Americans:

And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. … In this year of jubilee you shall return, every one of you, to your property. When you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not cheat one another. … You shall not cheat one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.

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