(Action Institute) -- When Communism collapsed, Eastern European countries faced any number of enormous challenges, including this one: How does one form voluntary associations in a society riddled with a collective sense of guilt, mistrust, and mutual suspicion? In the impoverished world of Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, or Romanians, the resources available for building a network of think tanks were very limited, indeed. It was in this post-1989 vacuum that the controversial billionaire George Soros (born in Budapest right before the Second World War) decided to operate. Most Eastern European intellectuals welcomed contributions from his tax-exempt Open Society Foundation to the advancement of knowledge, academic debate, and the public scrutiny of democratic institutions.
Not many supporters of President Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia (or of President Emil Constantinescu in Romania) knew that George Soros had a reputation for being ruthless and made vast sums of money through actions that have severely negative social and moral implications. In fact, Soros embraced business practices that have been detrimental, not only to the lives of millions of people living in Thailand or Malaysia, but also to the English middle class. He has himself deemed some of his actions "amoral," though his supporters have dubbed their fallout “unintended consequences.” Even the European Court of Human Rights has decided that Soros used criminal methods, such as inside trading practices, against the French bank Société Générale.
Despite some evident shortcomings of character, Soros managed to brand himself as a genuine philanthropist, interested in protecting the rights of the disenfranchised, such as the Roma population.
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