John Oliver Forgives Nearly $15 Million In Medical Debt


John Oliver incorporated the Central Asset Recovery Professionals (CARP, named for the bottom-feeders) debt collection firm for $50 and purchased $60,000 in medical debt. He then promptly forgave the debt allowing 9,000 people to walk away from nearly $15 Million in zombie medical debt. Debt collection is a grimy and under-regulated business and John Oliver does a great job of lambasting their predatory practices.

It should be noted that back in 2012, Occupy Wall Street did a similar thing called a Rolling Jubilee

Occupy Your Personal Debt

Occupy Wall Street has come up with an incredible financial hack that promises to help people by subverting a predatory financial system with a Rolling Jubilee. David Rees’s explains:

OWS is going to start buying distressed debt (medical bills, student loans, etc.) in order to forgive it. As a test run, we spent $500, which bought $14,000 of distressed debt. We then ERASED THAT DEBT. (If you’re a debt broker, once you own someone’s debt you can do whatever you want with it — traditionally, you hound debtors to their grave trying to collect. We’re playing a different game. A MORE AWESOME GAME.)

This is a simple, powerful way to help folks in need — to free them from heavy debt loads so they can focus on being productive, happy and healthy. As you can see from our test run, the return on investment approaches 30:1. That’s a crazy bargain!

Hopefully this will help catalyze some sort of structural change like a law that says than any time a debt is sold, the debtor should have right of first refusal (If a debt collection agency can buy my debt for pennies on the dollar, I should be offered the opportunity to pay it off at the same discount.) and at the same time it will help individuals being crushed with debt.

Child Hunger: Watching Wal-Mart At Midnight

Historical US Poverty Rate
source: US Census Bureau Current Population Reports

This is what a rising poverty level looks like. Bill Simon (Head of Wal-Mart operations) says more Americans paying necessary goods with government assistance. The desperation in the U.S. consumer can be seen in their current buying behaviors.

The paycheck cycle we’ve talked about before remains extreme.

And you need not go further than one of our stores on midnight at the end of the month. And it’s real interesting to watch, about 11 p.m., customers start to come in and shop, fill their grocery basket with basic items, baby formula, milk, bread, eggs, and continue to shop and mill about the store until midnight, when electronic — government electronic benefits cards get activated and then the checkout starts and occurs. And our sales for those first few hours on the first of the month are substantially and significantly higher.

And if you really think about it, the only reason somebody gets out in the middle of the night and buys baby formula is that they need it, and they’ve been waiting for it. Otherwise, we are open 24 hours — come at 5 a.m., come at 7 a.m., come at 10 a.m. But if you are there at midnight, you are there for a reason. And we have to look at that and we have to watch that and we have a commitment to serve those customers who need that. And we are very, very focused on that.

I think this says a lot about the tepid U.S. economic recovery (or lack thereof). You can download a full transcript of the the talk Simon gave at the Goldman Sachs Retail Conference last week.

What To Read Before Taking $25 Billion In TARP Funds

A few (one?) of the new interns at JP Morgan had the guts to email Jamie Dimon for a recommended reading list. And he actually emailed them back. The following is his list of recommended books “which includes a variety of business and history books.”

Business
The World is Flat
Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors
Security Analysis – Classic 1940 Edition
The Intelligent Investor
Execution – The Discipline of Getting Things Done
Jack: Straight From the Gut
Sam Walton – Made in America
Double your Profits in 6 Months or Less
Built from Scratch
Only the Paranoid Survive
Built to Last

History Bio
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation
Autobiography of Ben Franklin
Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America
Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West
Eisenhower: Soldier and President
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
Washington: The Indispensable Man
Lincoln
Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant
Jefferson
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

History Other
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos
A History of Knowledge: Past, Present, and Future
The Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of World Order
The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some are so Rich and Some so Poor

Dimon also attached a copy of his Syracuse commencement speech and a copy of a fake Bill Gates speech in the email.