In last night’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver continued his crusade against America’s corrupt systems, this time taking on the debt industry. Debt industry, you might ask? Well, yes. There is an industry that operates purely on the buying and selling of consumer debt, which is to say: if you have $3,000 to pay on a Barclays card, Barclays probably sold that presumptive $3,000 to someone else for $1,000, and now that company is doing everything it can to make a profit on that $1000, maybe even selling the debt to another company if they fail to solicit that money from you. It’s a weird system, but it’s one that allowed John Oliver to pull off one of the greatest moments in television history: buying up roughly $15 million dollars in Americans’ debt for less than $60,000, and then forgiving all of it.
Oliver did this by forming a debt acquisition company called the Central Asset Recovery Professionals — or CARP, which Oliver points out is a bottom-feeding fish. He did this by forming the company (online) in Mississippi, where you don’t need a license to purchase debt. This twist comes, of course, after Oliver points out the further idiocies behind this industry, which are perpetuated by lawmakers who do things like pass bills to give debt collectors the proper title of creditor, and, equally, allowing for an assumption of correction for all debt information they possess or present, which just seems like an absurd thing to provide to any person in any industry.
The episode ends, as so many episodes of Last Week Tonight do, with a grand act on the part of Oliver, which is to forgive all of the debt he purchased, which only affects 9,000 people. In doing so, he performed the biggest TV giveaway of all-time, topping Oprah’s car giveaway.