John Oliver and the Year Of Mercy

by | Jun 29, 2016 | Humor, In the News, Justice, Pop Culture, Pope Francis

Wipe our Debt | Flickr User Images Money | Flickr Creative Commons

On the June 5th episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the host John Oliver, took a closer look at the ugly business of debt collection and debt buying.  As with most of his investigations, they bring to light in a well researched and comical way, an issue that can sometimes be absurd.  This episode was no exception, but it ended with a twist.  



In April John Oliver started a debt collection company in Mississippi for $50.00.  With that initial investment of $50.00 he was able to buy almost $15 million in medical debt for less than $60 thousand.  That’s right, for those of you trying to figure that out at home that is “$.004 on the dollar”.  So what does a TV show host do with $15 million in debt owed by 9,000 people.  Legally, he would be allowed to try to collect that money.  But in a move that would make Pope Francis very happy in this Year of Mercy, he forgave the debt.  It’s gone.  For 9,000 people a burden caused by medical issues has been erased.  

Recently, while giving a retreat to priests, Pope Francis had this to say about mercy.  “Mercy exceeds justice; it brings knowledge and compassion; it leads to involvement”  John Oliver got involved in the lives of thousands of strangers because it was the right thing to do.  The mercy he offered them didn’t require anything in return.  This week’s episode did more than just raise awareness, it led to involvement.   Well done, Mr. Oliver, well done indeed!



Cover Image Wipe our Debt, via Flickr User Images Money, Flickr Creative Commons, available at this link.


Jason Downer, SJ   /   All posts by Jason