Tag Archives: jubilee

Jubilee — A way forward with deep, ancient roots

It’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, the global price of oil hit minus zero and headlines are declaring the end of the economy as we know it.  And, sorry, but I don’t want to go back to normal. I want to go forward, toward a better future for us humans, Earth and all the creatures that call this planet home. I want to continue to enjoy clearer skies, cleaner water, the quiet. But how, you may well ask? 

Let’s adopt a successful practice that dates back to 1729 BC and declare a Jubilee Year. After 49 successful years, the 50th became the Jubilee Year, when complete freedom from all debt and servitude was proclaimed throughout the land.  The ancient Babylonian King Hammurabi forgave all citizens debts owed to the government, high ranking officials and dignitaries. Boom. Gone. Not to be restarted for an entire year. 

The idea that debt can grow faster than the ability to repay, until it unbalances a society, was well understood thousands of years ago. Ancient rulers weren’t motivated by charity; they were being pragmatic — trying to make sure that citizens could meet their own needs and contribute to public projects, rather than just laboring to pay creditors.  

What’s more, the jubilee year worked, according to economist and historian Michael Hudson.  “Societies that canceled the debts enjoyed stable growth for thousands of years.’’

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