George Soros has recently given away $18 billion to Open Society Foundations, an action that is greater in scale than most philanthropy but hardly unprecedented for the man himself. Soros developed the first Open Society foundation in 1984, and has been giving them quite a bit of money over the years. According to the New York Times, he typically donates about $800 million to $900 million per year. Lately he has increased his giving, to the point that Open Society Foundations now has an endowment of $19 billion.
What does this amount to? In southern and eastern Asia, the effects of Soros’ work can be seen in the commercial and the legal sector. According to Forbes magazine, Open Society Foundations has supported the prosecution of torturers in Nepal, the inclusion of disabled children in Mongolian education, and investment in start-up companies in India, among many efforts. In general, the goal of Open Society Foundations is to get past the work of immediate humanitarian aid and invest in the future of societies. The author of the Forbes article says that their organization means to help people obtain the rights and abilities to look after themselves in the long term. Read more at Fortune about George Soros.
Devi Sunuwar was aided by George Soros’ organization in prosecuting the soldiers who killed her sister. She has gone on to unite many victims and survivors of the Nepalese crisis in demanding justice and rooting out corruption. As Sunuwar says, “It’s not enough now to get justice for myself alone…I want to ensure justice for the others as well.” Such is the example of George Soros himself, a Jewish man who survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary. After building his fortune as a hedge fund manager, Soros developed the Open Society foundation as fulfillment of Karl Popper’s philosophy. According to Open Society.org , Popper believed that “societies can only flourish when they allow for democratic governance, freedom of expression, and respect for individual rights”. Soros has promoted this philosophy by giving much financial support to the causes that would promote an open society. He has played a significant role in criticizing the drug war, promoting Marijuana as medicinal, and supporting the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. From the late 1970s until now he has supported democracy and the free exchange of ideas, in South Africa, eastern Europe, and more recently in the United States. According to The Atlantic , Soros’ donations were in large part responsible for the fall of communism in Hungary, and he promoted fledgling democratic institutions elsewhere in the Communist bloc.
Soros, like Sunuwar, wants to ensure justice for more people than himself. It is a hard road to follow, and harder these days now that more political parties are set against the very idea of an open society, but Soros shows no signs of slowing down in his old age. Follow George Soros on twitter.com.