George Soros – Philanthropic Rebel With a Cause

George Soros was born in Hungary in 1930 and was a teenager when the Germans occupied that country in 1944. During the years of fascist rule, his family, being Jewish, survived because of the astute actions of his father. In those years of danger, he learned how and when to take risks and to judge when a risk would be fatal. These lessons have helped him as an investor. He has reported having an instinctive physical reaction about when to buy and sell. Active as a philanthropist since 1979, Soros retired in 2000 as one of the world’s wealthiest investors in history. He has donated huge sums to causes worldwide that are untouched by other donors. In his later years, he made the statement, “My success in the financial markets has given me a greater degree of independence than most other people. This allows me to take a stand on controversial issues: in fact, it obliges me to do so because others can’t.” One of George Soros most far-reaching investments is the Open Society Foundation https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/people/george-soros founded in 1993, which operates in more than 100 countries. It has a human rights mission “to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people.” Soros believes in using indigenous institutions and empowering the local leadership, and that the commitment of the locals is important for the Foundation to succeed. They have their own energy and their own sense of mission. In later years, he has taken up and spoken on a number of controversial issues: the financial crises in Europe and the United States; the problem of the Euro; and warning Europe about Russian expansion http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/nov/20/wake-up-europe/ and the need to support the birth of a “new Ukraine.” In 2003, he donated substantial funds to American liberal groups to defeat George Bush in the 2004 elections. Currently, he is funding a Democratic legal fight http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/06/05/bankroller-of-democratic-voting-rights-cases-george-soros/?_r=0 against restrictive voting laws existing in certain states. And most recently, he has called on the European Union to meet the asylum crisis http://www.marketwatch.com/story/george-soros-heres-my-plan-to-solve-the-asylum-chaos-2015-09-29 with a uniform, comprehensive plan that also seeks a global response to deal with this overwhelming problem on Washington Times. George Soros is an example of a free individual who is not afraid to voice his often controversial views on how current world problems should be tackled. Perhaps his successful ways of investing and the wisdom he has gained from taking many risks have lessons for how institutions and governments can transcend intractable problems in today’s world.

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