Transcript: Anna Porter: Buying a Better World | Aug 04, 2015

Piya sits in the studio. She's in her forties, and has dark brown, slightly wavy hair in a bob cut. She wears a black frilled shirt under a beige coat.

She says WELL, GEORGE SOROS HAS DEVOTED
MUCH OF HIS PHILANTHROPIC
SPENDING ON EFFORTS TO TRANSFORM
AND IMPROVE LIFE FOR THOSE IN
EASTERN EUROPE, BUT THE BILLIONS
SPENT HAVE DELIVERED VERY LITTLE
TO THE REGION.
JOINING US NOW FOR MORE ON THAT,
AND MORE, IS ANNA PORTER.
SHE'S THE AUTHOR OF
BUYING A
BETTER WORLD: GEORGE SOROS AND
BILLIONAIRE PHILANTHROPY.

A picture of the book appears on screen. The cover is black and features a picture of George Soros as seen in a profile slightly from behind.
Anna sits in the studio with Piya. She’s in her sixties, with long wavy blond hair. She’s wearing a black shirt under a black jacket, and a thin golden necklace.

Piya continues WELCOME BACK.
SO, WE GOT TO KNOW THE MAN,
GEORGE SOROS, A LITTLE BIT LAST
NIGHT THROUGH OUR CONVERSATION.
UM, AND WE SORTA LEFT OFF LAST
NIGHT TALKING ABOUT THE
CRITICISMS AND WHERE THEY COME
FROM OF SOURCE.
I WANNA READ A CRITIQUE OF SOURCE.
THIS IS, UM--IT WAS WRITTEN IN
THE ATLANTIC, LAST YEAR.
IT COMES FROM GARA LAMARCHE WHO
WAS ONE OF SOROS' FORMER
EXECUTIVES, UM, TALKING ABOUT
THE PROBLEMS WITH PHILANTHROPY.
SO, HERE'S WHAT WAS WRITTEN.

A quote appears on screen, under the title “The dangers of big philanthropy.” The quote reads “I do wonder... about my progressive friends. They believe in a strong government, in a fair tax system, in a robust social-welfare system, and in a vibrant democracy where all voices count equally. Why are they not more concerned about the undemocratic and largely unaccountable nature of philanthropy? Why are we – since I too have failed, for years, to ask these big questions – hypersensitive to the dangers of big money in politics, and the way it perpetuates advantage and inequality, but blind, it seems, to the dangers of big philanthropy in the public sphere?”
Quote by Gara Lamarche, The Atlantic, October 30, 2014.

Piya says GIVEN THAT REMARK, ANNA PORTER,
HOW--HOW ACCOUNTABLE AND OPEN IS
GEORGE SOROS?

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Anna Porter. Author ‘Buying a better world.’"

Anna says WELL, HE DOESN'T HAVE TO BE ACCOUNTABLE.
HE IS, UH--HE'S A BILLIONAIRE,
AND, UH, HE STILL MAKES A LOT OF MONEY.
AND, UH, HE'S A PHILANTHROPIST,
UM, OF HIS OWN DEVISING.
UM, HE IS, IN FACT, INVOLVED IN
AMERICAN POLITICS.
HE, UH--HE SUPPORTED, UH, OBAMA.
UM, HE--HE DIDN'T USED TO BE,
BUT HE IS NOW.
AND, UH--AND HE'S PART OF THE
SUPER PAC NOW ENGAGED
IN--ALREADY ENGAGED IN, UH--IN
TRYING TO GET HILLARY CLINTON TO
BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE
UNITED STATES.

The caption changes to "Buying a better world. Theagenda.tvo.org"

Anna continues SO, HE'S INVOLVED IN PARTY
POLITICS, AND HE'S--HE'S
INVOLVED IN, UH--IN CHANGING
THE-WAY-AMERICANS-DO-THINGS
POLITICS.
NOW, SOME OF THAT IS HARD TO BE
CRITICAL OF.
PALLIATIVE CARE.
UM, WHEN GEORGE SOROS' FATHER
DIED, HE DIED ALONE IN A
SITUATION THAT MADE HIS LAST
DAYS UTTERLY MISERABLE.
THE AMERICAN, UH, MEDICAL SYSTEM
REALLY WAS NOT SET UP TO DEAL
WITH THE DYING.
IT'S A--IT WAS ENTIRELY A
SYSTEM, UM, TO HELP, UH, KEEP
PEOPLE ALIVE WHICH IS OF
COURSE--I MEAN, YOU KNOW, THAT'S
WHAT WE HAVE HERE TOO.

Piya says YEAH.
AND WE'RE IN A DEBATE ABOUT, YEAH.

Anna says DEBATE, EXACTLY.
WHEREAS HIS MOTHER MANAGED HER
OWN DEATH AND DYING.
AND, UH--AND HE HAD--HE SET UP A
FOUNDATION TO--TO HELP, UH, GET
PEOPLE THINKING DIFFERENTLY
ABOUT DEATH AND DYING THROUGHOUT
THE UNITED STATES.
NOW, YOU KNOW, IF YOU'RE A
FUNDAMENTAL CHRISTIAN, THIS IS
NOT THE KIND OF THING THAT YOU
LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN, A
FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIAN.
UM, HE HAS A--HE--ACTUALLY, HE
HIRED GARA LAMARCHE WHOSE
STATEMENT YOU READ, AND I THINK
THAT WAS IN THE ATLANTIC.

Piya says IT WAS.

Anna says IT WAS ALSO IN--IN A NUMBER OF
OTHER PUBLICATIONS.
SO, I READ IT.
I LIKE GARA LAMARCHE ENORMOUSLY.
HE--HE IS--HE'S AN INTELLECTUAL
INVOLVED IN--IN RUNNING
PHILANTHROPIC ENDEAVOURS,
INCLUDING THE DEMOCRACY
ALLIANCE--NOT DEMOCRATIC,
DEMOCRACY ALLIANCE--WHICH IS,
UH, AS THE NAME SUGGESTS A
POLITICAL GROUP.
UM, THAT'S WHAT HE'S DOING RIGHT NOW.
HE'S AN INTELLECTUAL.
UM, HE ACTUALLY READ THE
MANUSCRIPT.
I SHOULD SAY THAT.
I SHOULD'VE SAID THAT RIGHT AT
THE OUTSET.

Piya says THAT'S OK.

Anna says HE READ THE MANUSCRIPT BEFORE IT
WENT INTO PRINT.

Piya says DISCLOSED YEAH.

Anna says THAT'S HOW WELL I THINK OF HIM.
I ASKED HIM TO READ IT.
HE--HE MAKES A VERY, VERY GOOD POINT.
AND, IN FACT, IT'S A POINT
THAT'S BEEN MADE BY OTHERS, BUT
WHEN HE WENT TO WORK FOR SOROS,
UM, INITIALLY HE--HE WAS ASKED
BY ARYEH NEIER WHO WAS SOROS'
CHIEF EXECUTIVE, HE WAS ASKED
TO, UH, COME UP WITH SOME PLANS
THAT WOULD HELP ELIMINATE A NEW
GOVERNMENT POLICY, UM, THAT
DEPRIVED IMMIGRANT--NEW
IMMIGRANTS WHO WERE NOT YET
AMERICAN CITIZENS, UM, FROM
HEALTH CARE.
IT WAS CALLED THE EMMA LAZARUS
FUND AFTER THE POET, EMMA
LAZARUS, WHOSE WORDS APPEAR ON
THE STATUE OF LIBERTY.

Piya says YEAH.

Anna says YOU KNOW, GIVE ME YOUR WHATEVER
TIRED ETC., YOU KNOW?
SO, LAUDABLE, REALLY WHEN YOU
THINK--BUT IT IS, UM--IT'S
TRYING TO IMPACT POLICIES
THAT--THAT ARE SUPPOSEDLY IN A
DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY.
THE PURVIEW OF PEOPLE WHO'VE
BEEN ELECTED TO OFFICE, NOT TO
A MAN WHO IS WITH IDEAS WHO
WISHES TO CHANGE THE WAY--

Piya says AND--AND AS YOU SAY,
UNACCOUNTABLE TO ANYONE--

Anna says THAT'S RIGHT.

Piya says EXCEPT FOR HIMSELF.
AND, YOU KNOW, FOR SOROS TO GO
SO MUCH BEYOND WHAT HE'S DOING
IN HIS OWN COUNTRY, IT GOES TO
HIS--HIS REACH AROUND THE WORLD.
AND I--I--ESPECIALLY IN EASTERN
EUROPE WHERE WE'RE SEEING A LOT
OF TURMOIL RIGHT NOW, A LOT OF
CONCERN ABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON
THERE, THIS YEAR, LAST YEAR,
PROBABLY INTO NEXT YEAR, UM, SO
WHAT WAS IT FOR SOROS THAT HE
LOOKED AT EASTERN EUROPE AND
SAID, “UH-HUH, THAT'S A FOCUS;
DEMOCRATIZING EASTERN EUROPE
IS SUCH A BIG ISSUE TO ME?”

Anna says HE COMES FROM THERE.

Piya says SIMPLE, YUP.

The caption changes to "Failure in Russia."

Anna says I MEAN, I THINK IT'S AS SIMPLE AS THAT.
AND HE--HE HAS AN UNDERSTANDING
OF WHAT IT'S LIKE TO LIVE UNDER
A DICTATORSHIP THAT DOESN'T
ALLOW YOU FREE SPEECH OR EVEN
FREE THINKING.
UM, AND, UH--WHEN HE BECAME
INVOLVED IN TRYING TO HELP, UM,
EASTERN EUROPEANS SHAKE THE
SHACKLES OF THE GOVERNMENTS THAT
RAN THEIR COUNTRIES WHICH WERE
IN TURN, OF COURSE, FUNDED,
CONTROLLED, BY THE USSR, HE--HE
WAS INFLUENCED BY HIS OWN YOUTH
AND HIS IDEAS ABOUT THE
IMPORTANCE OF AN OPEN SOCIETY.
UM, HE WAS, UM, WELCOMED
BY SOME OF--OF THE PEOPLE THERE.
AND, IN FACT, A LOT OF THEM
BENEFITED FROM HIS LARGESSE.
UM, HE HANDED OUT VERY, VERY
LARGE SUMS IN, UM--IN RUSSIA,
FOR EXAMPLE.

Piya says BUT, DOING KINDA--WHAT
KIND OF PROJECTS DOES HE FUND IN RUSSIA?

Anna says OH, IT'S, UH, FELLOWSHIPS.
HE CALLED THEM FELLOWSHIPS, AND
THE IDEA WAS TO HELP RUSSIAN
SCIENTISTS SURVIVE THE CHANGE
AS--AS THE USSR WENT INTO A
TAILSPIN TRYING TO COME OUT OF
ITS OLD SELF AND RE-CREATE A NEW
RUSSIA INSTEAD OF, YOU KNOW,
SATELLITES, THEY WOULD BE
INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES.
OF COURSE, UH, WHETHER THAT--NO,
IT HASN'T WORKED.
I MEAN, THE SAD--THE SAD
COMMENTARY ON ALL THAT IS HE
SPENT MORE THAN A BILLION
DOLLARS IN RUSSIA TO GET
DEMOCRATIC IDEAS, UH, GOING.
IT HASN'T WORKED.
RUSSIA IS NOT A DEMOCRATIC
COUNTRY, AND IT--IT IS NOT
BECOMING ONE.
HIS FOUNDATION IN--IN, RUSSIA
WAS CLOSED DOWN BY A BLACK-CLAD,
UM--I DON'T KNOW WHETHER THEY
WERE SOLDIERS.

Piya says RIGHT.

Anna says NOBODY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE.
THEY WERE PROBABLY POLICEMAN
PAID FOR BY THE GOVERNMENT
BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT GETS
INVOLVED IN DOING THAT SORT OF THING.
THEY--THEY LIKE TO KILL CRITICS.
MORE--MORE JOURNALISTS
HAVE BEEN KILLED IN RUSSIA SINCE
1989 THAN IN ANY OTHER COUNTRY.
SO, YOU KNOW, THEY SHOT DOWN HIS
FOUNDATION, HE'S PERSONA NON
GRATA--

Piya says SO, THE ÉLITE HATES HIM?
THE RUSSIAN ÉLITE HATES HIM?

Anna says WELL, THE RUSSIAN ÉLITE THAT'S
CLOSE TO, UM, THE GOVERNMENT HATES HIM.
PUTIN HATES HIM AND HAS SAID SO PUBLICLY.
BUT, THE SCIENTISTS, UM, HE HAD
HELPED, DON'T HATE HIM.
UM, THE WOMAN WHO USED TO RUN
HIS FOUNDATION, SHE IS STILL A
GREAT ADMIRER.
SHE'S NOW IN--SHE NOW RUNS
FOREIGN LANGUAGE LIBRARIES IN,
UH, RUSSIA.
SHE--SHE BELIEVES THAT EVEN
THOUGH HE'S NO LONGER, UM,
ACTIVE WITH A FOUNDATION ON THE
GROUND IN MOSCOW, HIS IDEAS
ARE--ARE STILL THERE.
AND HIS IDEAS WILL ULT--HIS
IDEAS ABOUT AN OPEN SOCIETY,
ABOUT DEMOCRACY, AND SO FORTH,
WILL HAVE SOME EFFECT IN THE LONG HAUL.
NOW I, YOU KNOW--I SEE NO SIGN OF IT.
SO, IT'S--YOU KNOW, YOU CAN LOOK
AT IT AND SAY, “OK, IT'S A
BILLION DOLLARS DOWN THE DRAIN.”
YOU CAN.

Piya says YOU CAN.
AND GIVEN THAT, IF WE SEE IT
FROM THAT, I MEAN, WHAT WENT WRONG?

Anna says TOO MANY THINGS TOO--TOO COUNT.
UM, YOU KNOW, YOU--PEOPLE HAVE
WRITTEN WHOLE BOOKS ON WHAT WENT
WRONG IN, UM--IN RUSSIA.
BUT FROM SOROS' POINT OF VIEW,
HE WAS THERE TO--AT A CRITICAL
TIME, AND HE WAS THERE TO DO GOOD.
HE DID NOT FORESEE THAT
GORBACHEV WOULD BECOME PERSONA
NON GRATA IN HIS OWN COUNTRY.
UM, HE DID NOT FORESEE THAT THE
LOSS OF EMPIRE WOULD INSPIRE SO
MANY RUSSIANS TO KEEP VOTING FOR PUTIN.
HE DID NOT FORESEE THAT YELTSIN,
UH, WOULD APPOINT PUTIN.
HE DID--YOU KNOW,
THERE'S--THERE'S THINGS, UH--

Piya says AND SO MANY PEOPLE DIDN'T
SEE ALL THESE THINGS. I MEAN--

Anna says NO, BUT HE WAS THERE.
AND, UH--AND PEOPLE EXPECT MORE
OF HIM BECAUSE THIS IS
WHAT--THIS IS WHAT HE DOES.
AND, YOU KNOW, I ACTUALLY
THOUGHT HE MIGHT GO BACK, AND I
ASKED HIM THAT QUESTION, WHETHER
HE WOULD EVER GO BACK, UM, INTO
RUSSIA, IN A SERIOUS WAY WITH A
NEW FOUNDATION AND SO FORTH.
BUT, UM--AND AT THE TIME I ASKED
HIM THAT QUESTION, HOLAKOVSKY,
FOR WHOM HE HAS GREAT
ADMIRATION, WAS STILL IN--IN
JAIL, YOU KNOW, TRUMPED-UP
CHARGES AND ALL.
UM, NOW, HE'S OUT.
AND I ASKED ASKED HIM WHETHER
THIS IS A SIGN--WHEN THE NEXT
TIME I SAW HIM AND HOLAKOVSKY
WAS OUT OF JAIL, AND, IN FACT,
OUT OF THIS RUSSIA, WHETHER THIS
WAS A SIGN THAT HE MAY.
AND HE SAID, “NO, NOT YET.”

Piya says NO.

Anna says NOT YET.

Piya says HMM.
YOU MENTIONED YESTERDAY THAT
SOROS IS A MAN THAT IS SCARED TO
FAIL, THAT HE BELIEVES THAT YOU
COULD LEARN FROM FAILURE.
IS HE OK ABOUT FAILING IN RUSSIA?

Anna says YES.

Piya says HE'S OK ABOUT IT?

Anna says YES, YES.
YES, HE SAID HE LEARNT A LOT FROM IT.
I ASKED HIM.
I ASKED HIM HOW--YOU KNOW, HOW
HE SAW WHAT HAPPENED IN RUSSIA?
HE SAID IT WAS A TOTAL FAILURE.
“I LEARNED A LOT FROM IT.”
SO, I HAVE MY--

Piya says WHAT DID HE TELL YOU?
WHAT DID HE LEARN?

Anna says WELL, YOU KNOW, WHAT, HE LEARNED
THAT HE WAS IN TOO DEEP, AND
THAT, UH--AND THAT HE HAD MADE
ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT
THAT WERE PROVEN TO BE WRONG.
I MEAN, THAT IS A BIG LESSON TO LEARN.
I THINK HE LEARNED A LOT IN THE
CZECH REPUBLIC AS WELL WHERE HE,
UH--HE SUPPORTED VACLAV HAVEL
WHO IS--WAS A VERY DIFFICULT MAN
NOT TO BE SUPPORTIVE OF BECAUSE
HE WAS SO WONDERFUL AND SO
GENUINE AND SO CHARMING.
AND I--YOU KNOW, WHEN I MET HIM,
I WAS TONGUE TIED.
JUST BECAUSE I WAS SITTING
ACROSS FROM HIM.

Piya says SURE.

Anna says AND I WAS GOING, “AW.”

[PIYA LAUGHS]

Anna says UM, HE DID NOT--YOU KNOW, THAT
DIDN'T GO DOWN WELL WITH--WITH
THE SUBSEQUENT PRESIDENT OF THE
COUNTRY, KLAUS.
I MEAN, HE HATES GEORGE SOROS.
AND SOROS WAS, UH--HE SHUT DOWN
HIS UNIVERSITY IN PRAGUE WHERE
HE'D BEEN HOPING FOR GOVERNMENT
SUPPORT BECAUSE VACLAV KLAUS
WASN'T GONNA GIVE HIM ANY
SUPPORT--
BECAUSE VACLAV KLAUS HATES HIM.

Piya says RIGHT.

Anna says AND I ASKED HIM ABOUT KLAUS.
AND HE SAID, “WELL, YOU KNOW,
SOME PEOPLE HAVE VISCERAL DISLIKE.”

She laughs.

Piya says OK.
SO HE--THAT'S, YOU KNOW, A
COUPLE WORLD LEADERS HE DIDN'T
GET ALONG WITH.
HE--HE DID GET VERY INVOLVED,
UM, IN THE BREAKUP OF THE FORMER
YUGOSLAVIA.

Anna says YES.

Piya says THAT'S, YOU KNOW, WHERE HE
MADE HIS IMPRINT.
SO, HOW DID HE PUT HIS MONEY TO
WORK THERE IN WHAT ARGUABLY
COULD BE CALLED, YOU KNOW, ONE
OF THE BIGGEST QUAGMIRES, UH--

Anna says YES.

Piya says IN EASTERN EUROPE.

Anna says YES.

Piya says SO, WHAT DID HE DO THERE?

The caption changes to "Meddling in the Balkans."

Anna says WELL, HE--HE WAS--IT WAS BOSNIA
THAT--THAT ATTRACTED HIM, I THINK.
ALTHOUGH, HE HAD SMALL
FOUNDATIONS ALREADY IN SOME
PARTS OF THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA,
OR WELL, AT THAT TIME, STILL,
YOU KNOW, MUCH OF YUGOSLAVIA,
BUT UM, WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN
BOSNIA WHEN THE--DURING THE
BOMBARDMENT OF THE CITY IN
SARAJEVO, UM, AND THE ETHNIC
CLEANSING IS--WAS REALLY WHAT
BROUGHT HIM THERE, AND HE WANTED
TO DO SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT,
AND, UM, YOU KNOW, HE WAS THERE IN PERSON.
Anna says HE ACTUALLY WENT TO
SARAJEVO IN PERSON.
ANYWAY, UM, IN BOSNIA, UM, HE
GAVE 15 MILLION dollars IN CASH TO
RESTORE, UH, WATER TO HOMES
BECAUSE PEOPLE WERE, UM--WERE
LINING UP FOR WATER AT THE PUMPS.

Piya says HE SAVED LIVES.

Anna says YES.
AND THE SERBS WERE FROM THE
MOUNTAINS, UM, JUST THE SNIPERS
WERE KILLING PEOPLE AS THEY WERE
STANDING IN LINE.
SO, I MEAN, I THINK THAT
WAS--AND A LOT OF, ODDLY ENOUGH,
AS I WAS INTERVIEWING A LOT OF
PEOPLE WHO HAD WORKED FOR SOROS
AND STILL DO, A LOT OF THEM
ACTUALLY FIRST MET IN SARAJEVO.
SO, UM, IT WAS--WHAT HE DID
THERE, HELPED SAVE LIVES.
AND, UH--AND IT CEMENTED
RELATIONSHIPS WITH PEOPLE, UM,
WHO ARE STILL WITH HIM.

Piya says AND, UM, GIVEN THE CONTEXT OF
THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA AS IT'S
FALLING APART AND BALKANIZATION,
I MEAN, HOW DID THE VARIOUS
ETHNIC GROUPS VIEW HIM?

Anna says MMM.
WELL, THE SERBS DID NOT VIEW HIM
WITH ANY DELIGHT, UM, BUT--BUT
HE NOW HAS A FOUNDATION IN
SERBIA, AND HE'S GOT FOUNDATIONS
THROUGHOUT, UM, ALL THE
FORMER--THE STATES THAT WERE
FORMERLY PART OF YUGOSLAVIA.
UM, MONTENEGRO, I MEAN, JUST ALL
OF THEM.
HE'S GOT FOUNDATIONS EVERYWHERE,
AND, UH--AND LOCAL PEOPLE
WORKING IN THOSE FOUNDATIONS.
NOW PERIODICALLY, HIS
FOUNDATIONS GET, UH--GET SHUT
DOWN, AND--AND THE GOVERNMENT
DECLARES THAT HE AND HIS PEOPLE
ARE PERSONA NON GRATA, AND
OCCASIONALLY THEY JAIL THEM.
UH, BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE THAT,
UH, HE'S TRYING TO--HIS PEOPLE
ARE TRYING TO HAVE INFLUENCE ON
HIS BEHALF IN LOCAL POLITICS.

Piya says AND AS HE SORT OF SPREADS
HIS WORD OF OPEN SOCIETIES AND
DEMOCRACY AROUND--AROUND THE
WORLD, AND MORE THAN SPREADS HIS
WORD, PUTS HIS MONEY WHERE HIS
MOUTH IS, SO TO SPEAK, UM, AND
TRIES TO IMPROVE LIVES FOR THE
PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN THESE
COUNTRIES, IS HE A MAN WHO CAN
RECOGNIZE, UM, THE SHORTCOMINGS
OF DEMOCRACIES?
CAN HE SEE THAT?
OR IS HE--IS HE SORTA
BLINDED BY THIS BELIEF THAT THEY
ARE THE BEST SOLUTION?

Anna says WELL, IT MAY NOT BE A PERFECT
SYSTEM, BUT IT'S PROBABLY THE
BEST WE'VE GOT.
I THINK THAT WOULD BE HIS--HE
BELIEVES THAT AN OPEN SOCIETY IS
THE BEST WAY TO BE.
SO, UM, I DON'T--YOU KNOW, I
MEAN, IT'S, UH--IT'S IRONIC THAT
UNFORTUNATELY, UM, A DEMOCRATIC
COUNTRY CAN ELECT SOME TERRIBLE
PEOPLE, UH, BUT ALAS, THAT IS
WHAT HAPPENS.
AND, UH, WE IN THE WEST, WE'RE
ENCOURAGING DEM--DEMOCRACY IN
THE PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, FOR
EXAMPLE, AND WE GOT HAMAS IN
GAZA, SO--AND NOW, YOU KNOW, WE'RE NOT.

Piya says YEAH, FIRST DEMOCRATICALLY
ELECTED GOVERNMENT.

Anna says DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED.
AS PUTIN WAS DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED.
UM, SO DEMOCRACY DOESN'T
GUARANTEE THAT YOU'RE GOING TO
GET A BETTER GOVERNMENT.
YOU'RE JUST GOING TO GET A FREE
ELECTION, AND PEOPLE WILL ELECT
WHOEVER THE HELL THEY WANT.
AND SOMETIMES YOU GET A WORSE
GOVERNMENT.
DOES HE SEE THAT?
YES.
HE'S VERY GOOD AT SEEING IRONIES.
HE IN FACT SAYS, ISN'T IT IRONIC
THAT I HAVE BECOME ONE OF THE
MOST HATED FIGURES IN EASTERN
EUROPE WHERE I HAVE TAKEN SO
MUCH TROUBLE TO HELP PEOPLE.

Piya says AND IS IT--
I MEAN, HE DOES SEE THAT.
IS THAT TRUE, THAT HE'S ONE OF
THE MOST HATED?

Anna says HE IS.

Piya says I MEAN, THAT'S A FAIR--

Anna says YES.

Piya says--REPRESENTATION, YES?

Anna says OH, YES, YES, YES.
HE'S NOT LIKED.

Piya says BECAUSE HE'S SEEN WHAT?
SEEN AS A MEDDLER--

Anna says YES.

Piya says AS AN INFLUENCER.

Anna says YES.

Piya says A GUY WHO'S JUST JUST STICKING
HIS NOSE--

Anna says AND A LEFTY.

Piya says WHERE IT'S NOT INVITED OR
WANTED OR NEEDED?

Anna says YES.
AND A LEFTY.
YOU KNOW, SOMEBODY ON THE LEFT.
UM, AND HE--HE IS MORE ON THE
LEFT THAN THE RIGHT, ON THE ONE HAND.
ON THE OTHER HAND, HE'S
CERTAINLY MADE HIS MONEY, UM,
THAT HE'S GIVING AWAY--UM, ALL
OVER THE WORLD, HE'S MADE THAT
MONEY IN A CAPITALIST SYSTEM
WHICH IS OSTENSIBLY OF THE RIGHT.
NOT THE LEFT.

Piya says THERE'S ONE MORE, UM,
CAUSE--”CAUSE,” I'LL PUT IT IN
QUOTATIONS THAT I WANT TO ASK
YOU ABOUT WITH HIM, AND THAT'S
THE ROMA PEOPLE.

Anna says YES.

Piya says UH, THAT HE'S VERY PASSIONATE
ABOUT--

Anna says YES.

Piya says--AND HELPING.
AND, UM--WELL, JUST SET THE STAGE FOR US.
I MEAN THE DISPARITY BETWEEN
ROMA PEOPLE ACROSS EUROPE AND
OTHER EUROPEANS, I MEAN--I DON'T
WANNA SAY THE LOCALS, BUT THE
PEOPLE THERE, JUST PAINT THAT
PICTURE FOR US, ANNA, I MEAN IN
TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT, IN TERMS OF
HOUSING, IN TERMS OF EDUCATION.

The caption changes to "The struggles of the Roma."

Anna says CATASTROPHIC, I THINK, WOULD
DESCRIBE IT AS--IN A SINGLE WORD.
UM, THERE IS NO EQUALITY.
UM, THERE'S NO EQUALITY IN EDUCATION.
UM, THERE'S NO EQUALITY IN JOB OPPORTUNITIES.
IN FACT, IT'S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE
FOR ROMA TO GET WORK IN EASTERN EUROPE.
THERE'S BEEN A, UH, STEADY RISE
IN THE PAST SEVEN, EIGHT, TEN
YEARS IN ANTI-ROMA SENTIMENT,
UH, WHICH EXPRESSES ITSELF IN
EVERYTHING FROM BEATINGS TO, UH, MURDER.
IN HUNGARY, IN THE CZECH
REPUBLIC, IN SLOVAKIA, UH, IN
ROMANIA, THE SITUATION OF THE
ROMA IS ABSOLUTELY INTOLERABLE.
NOW, WHAT HE HAS--HE--HE STATED
THAT HE WANTED TO REALLY MAKE A
DIFFERENCE IN--IN THIS AREA.
AND I THINK HE--TO SOME EXTENT, HE HAS.
IT DEPENDS ON HOW YOU VIEW IT.
HE'S FUNDED THE EDUCATION OF A
THIN LAYER OF ROMA WHO HAVE
BECOME AN ÉLITE, REALLY.
A ROMA ÉLITE.
AND ON THE ONE HAND, YOU KNOW,
DOCTORS AND LAWYERS AND SO
FORTH, BUT THEY ARE A SMALL
SEGMENT OF THE ROMA POPULATION.
UM, THEY--THE IDEA WAS THAT BY
HOLDING THEM UP AS SHINING
EXAMPLES OF WHAT THE ROMA CAN
ACHIEVE, UM, IT WOULD MAKE A
DIFFERENCE TO A LOT OF THE ROMA,
AND IT HASN'T.
THE SITUATION'S BECOME WORSE.
IT ISN'T BETTER.
THE ROMA ARE--ARE FLEEING
HUNGARY, THE CZECH REPUBLIC AND
SLOVAKIA.
NOT BECAUSE THEY FEEL LIKE
MOVING AROUND, THE ROMA HAVE NOT
BEEN WANDERERS FOR A VERY LONG
TIME, I MEAN, A VERY, VERY,
VERY--MANY DECADES, CENTURIES.
THIS IDEA OF THE ROMA WANDERING
BECAUSE IT'S PART OF WHAT THEY
DO IS IDIOTIC.
IT'S NOT TRUE, SO--

Piya says IT'S A MYTH.

Anna says WELL, IT'S AN OLD--IT'S A
MYTH BASED ON OLD HABITS.
BUT THEY'VE BEEN STATIONARY
IN--IN THESE COUNTRIES TRYING TO
MAKE A LIFE FOR THEMSELVES, SO
THIS THIN ÉLITE HASN'T REALLY
MADE A DIFFERENCE.

Piya says HMM.
OK.
SO, GEORGE SOROS--I MEAN, I'M
NOT KEEPING A TALLY HERE.
SOME SUCCESS, SOME FAILURES YOU
SAY WHEN IT COMES TO THE PLIGHT
OF THE ROMA PEOPLE AND
MARGINALLY PERHAPS CHANGING
PEOPLE'S ATTITUDES.
DIDN'T DO SO WELL IN RUSSIA.

[ANNA LAUGHS]

Piya continues THIS IS A MAN WHO IS 84 YEARS
OLD, HAS HIS FOOTPRINT, HIS
THUMBPRINTS, ALL OVER THE WORLD
IN TERMS OF HIS PHILANTHROPIC
GIVING AND WORK.

A picture shows Soros. He’s in his eighties, clean-shaven, with short white hair and a wrinkled face.

Piya continues I'M NOT WISHING FOR HIS DEMISE;
I'M NOT SAYING HE'S GOING
ANYWHERE ANYTIME SOON.
BUT WHAT WAS GEORGE SOROS AT THE
END OF HIS LIFE WANT TO BE
REMEMBERED FOR?
WHAT DOES HE WANT HIS LEGACY TO BE?

The caption changes to "Legacy."

Anna says HMM.
IT'S A GOOD QUESTION.
I ASKED HIM THAT.

Piya says I KNOW YOU DID.
YOU'RE A GOOD JOURNALIST, THAT'S WHY.
[PIYA LAUGHS]

Anna says AND I ASKED HIM--WELL, I'M MUCH
MORE COMFORTABLE ASKING
QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERING THEM AS
I--I REALLY AM.
UM, BUT HE--HE DOESN'T WANNA
THINK ABOUT LEGACY, AS HE
DOESN'T WISH TO THINK ABOUT
BUILDINGS NAMED AFTER HIM.
AS HE DOESN'T WISH TO THINK
ABOUT THE FOUNDATIONS NAMED AFTER HIM.
HE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT SEEING HIS
NAME UP IN LIGHTS.
UM, I THINK THAT HE WOULD LIKE
TO SEE, UM, THE WAR ON DRUGS IN
WHICH HE HAS SPENT A LOT OF TIME
AND EFFORT, AND HE WANTS TO SEE IT OVER.
HE BELIEVES THAT IT IS ABSOLUTE
ANATHEMA IN AN OPEN SOCIETY, AND
AN EXCUSE FOR POLICE TO
INCARCERATE BLACK MEN.
IT'S NOT--THIS BELIEF IS FOUNDED
ON TRUTH IF YOU LOOK AT THE STATISTICS.
UM, HE WOULD LIKE TO SEE THAT HAPPEN.
HE WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE
EUROPEAN UNION BACK TO BEING AN
EFFECTIVE--HE CALLED IT A SHINY
BAUBLE THAT IS WAS IN ITS INFANCY.
HE WOULD LIKE TO HAVE IT STOP
BEING A COLLECTION OF DEBTOR
NATIONS RULED BY A COLLECTION OF
CREDITOR NATIONS.
UM, WHICH IS WHAT IT'S BECOMING.
HE--I THINK HE WOULD LIKE HIS
LEGACY TO INCLUDE ANGELA MERKEL
FINALLY--

[PIYA LAUGHS]

Anna smiles and concludes
HEARING WHAT HE HAS TO SAY.

Piya says LISTENING TO HIM.
SHE'S NOT LISTENED TO HIM, EXACT POINT.

Anna says SHE HAS NOT ONCE.
AND I DID ASK HIM, I SAID,
WELL--HE PUBLISHED A BOOK ABOUT,
UM--ABOUT HOW TO SOLVE THE
PROBLEMS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
AND I SAID, “WELL, AND WHAT DID
ANGELA MERKEL DO?”

[PIYA LAUGHS]

Anna says “SHE DOESN'T PAY ANY ATTENTION
TO WHAT I SAY.”
YOU KNOW. IT WAS
KIND OF DISARMING.
I THINK HE'D LIKE TO SEE THAT.
UM, ULTIMATELY, I THINK HIS
LEGACY WILL PROBABLY BE WHAT HE
LEAST WANTED WHICH IS A BUILDING
IN DOWNTOWN BUDAPEST.
THE OPEN--THAT THE OPEN SOCIETY
HELPED FUND, AND THE OPEN
SOCIETY FOUNDATION IN--OF
BUDAPEST--OF HUNGARY IS ACTUALLY
HOUSED IN THE UNIVERSITY,
CENTRAL EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY,
WHICH IS THERE, AND THERE'S
THREE BUILDINGS, AND IT'S
WELL--YOU KNOW, IT'S ENDOWED.
AND IT'S A GOOD UNIVERSITY; IT'S
TURNED OUT SOME VERY FINE
SCHOLARS WHO, YOU KNOW, DO WHAT
FINE SCHOLARS DO.
LECTURE, TEACH, AND SO FORTH,
AND PHILOSOPHIZE--PUBLIC
PHILOSOPHERS, AS HE IS.
WELL, I SUPPOSE LIKE MOST
LEGACIES, IT WILL BE LEFT TO,
UH, INTERPRETATION FOR OTHER PEOPLE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Colin Ellis. Follow @ColinEllis81."

Piya says THANK YOU FOR TALKING TO US
ABOUT GEORGE SOROS.
I APPRECIATE IT VERY MUCH, ANNA.

Anna says THANK YOU.

Watch: Anna Porter: Buying a Better World