Who is George Soros?
George Soros is a Hungarian-born investor who lived through the Nazi regime that perpetrated the murder of over half a million Hungarian Jews. After World War II, Soros moved from Budapest to London where he studied at the London School of Economics and worked as a railway porter and nightclub waiter to support his studies. In 1956, he emigrated to the United States where he began his career in the financial sector and would become one of the most successful financiers in the world as the head of Soros Fund Management (later renamed Quantum Fund). In addition to his financial career, he has five children, some of whom chose similar career paths in finance and philanthropy.
Soros has amassed much of his wealth through his work in hedge fund management. He began his career by opening the Soros Fund Management hedge fund in 1970. During his time with the hedge fund, Soros has accumulated capital in several high-profile trades. In 1992, he famously shorted the British Pound, which reportedly earned him a profit of $1 billion while simultaneously crippling the Bank of England. But that was not his only controversial position. According to Business Insider, he also made money in 1997 by making trades against several Asian currencies, specifically Thailand and Malaysia. From the wealth that he amassed throughout his financial career, he started the Open Society Foundations which connects philanthropic projects in over 100 countries.
Why Many People Don’t Like Him
Soros is a vocal proponent of liberal, progressive political and economic policy. At a recent World Economic Forum dinner, he spoke out against the Chinese government, suggesting that the regime is utilizing machine learning and artificial intelligence to suppress people in China. A frequent keynote speaker, Soros uses his platform to call out world leaders that he considers to be a threat to open societies. He has spoken publicly in favor of past issues such as Kosovo’s independence, as well as more current concerns such as Donald Trump’s suitability as president, and the likelihood that Brexit will fail in Great Britain.
Many progressive causes have also been closely associated with Soros. He was an early proponent of same-sex marriage in the United States, dedicating at least $2.7 million to the cause in 2013 which is the year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the cause. Soros has also been credited with kick-starting the medical marijuana movement. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Soros says that the “criminalization of marijuana did not prevent [it] from becoming the most widely used illegal substance in the United States and many other countries” and instead has cost taxpayers billions of dollars for a failing war on drugs.
His many outspoken opinions on political and economic policies mean that Soros has become a polarizing figure worldwide. Governments and politicians on the receiving end of his criticism dislike him, and opponents of his progressive causes consider him a formidable roadblock.
What Makes George Soros Admirable?
The financier and philanthropist is not afraid of tackling problems that many find hopeless. Soros created the Open Society Foundations to reflect the principles of philosopher Karl Popper’s work Open Society and Its Enemies. Popper’s principle suggests that there is no fundamental truth but that so long as a society adheres to the democratic ideals such as freedom of expression and individual rights, the society can advance.
The Foundations include more than twenty offices which oversee the work and influence the funding priorities of the overall organization. Their funding concerns cover a variety of domains, including support of Europe’s Roma minority population to criminal justice reform in the United States. According to the Open Society Foundations website, they usually “provide no more than 33 percent of the funding” to organizations they have chosen work with, in an effort to “maintain their autonomy” and often work with people whose work may be considered controversial by other investors or funders.
Despite his advanced age, Soros’ website reports that he “continues to take an active personal interest in the Open Society Foundations’ work, travelling widely to support their work and advocating for positive policy changes with world leaders both publicly and privately.”