At a time in which it seems like all the news about celebrities is negative, let's give a round of applause to John Oliver, who just did something, well, awesome, simply for the sake of doing good.
As the host of HBO's Last Week Tonight, Oliver has taken up the mantle of late-night political satire left by the vacancies of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. He's addressed a number of complex issues on his show and broken them down for his audience, including the subjects of net neutrality, Donald Trump and rape culture.
Last night, he tackled the shady practices of debt collecting, where loan shark companies buy bad debt for just cents on the dollar. They then attempt to recoup the costs from that debt with aggressive tactics, without actually double-checking that it's still valid debt. To illustrate the concept, Oliver put his money where his mouth is, but instead of hounding people, he did something amazing: He bought $15 million dollars in people's medical debt — and forgave it.
For about $50, Oliver set up a debt acquisition company called Central Asset Recovery Professionals Inc., or CARP. Shortly after it was created, the company was then offered a medical debt portfolio of just under $15 million for, Oliver explained "less than half a cent on a dollar, which is less than $60,000." He then partnered up with charity organization RIP Medical Debt, and the two companies worked to forgive the debt rather than harass people for it. Oliver confessed it was a little overwhelming at first:
“We bought it, which is absolutely terrifying, because it means if I wanted to, I could legally have CARP take possession of that list and have employees start calling people, turning their lives upside down over medical debt."
And he did turn their lives upside down, but in a good way, rather than a predatory one. Good for you, John Oliver. Good for you.
What do you think of John Oliver's Robin Hood act? Let me know in the comments.