Rachel Ehrenfeld, Author, New York, USA

"I am sort of deus ex machina- I am something unnatural," George Soros says of himself.

Described by the New York Times as "The world's single largest donor" (Dec. 17,1996), Soros uses his philanthropy to change - or more accurately deconstruct - the moral values and attitudes of the Western world, and particularly of the American people. While others give to the arts and higher education or to better the quality of the lives of their fellow men, Soros funds campaigns for euthanasia and to legalize illegal drugs.

George Soros, who made billions plying the markets, last month set himself up as its strongest opponent in an Atlantic Monthly article titled "The Capitalist Threat." He writes that "Totalitarian ideologies like communism and Nazism have a common element: they claim to be in possession of the ultimate truth." He observes that laissez faire capitalism makes the same claim as well. Admitting, that Communism and Nazism were murderous, he nonetheless asserts that laissez-faire capitalism poses a future menace greater than both.

Soros' article is intellectually incoherent. In his critique of capitalism's failings he makes reference to the famous Austrian economist FA Haiku as well as Adam Smith, the father of modern economics. Yet he neglects to mention that both Haiku and Smith believed that a moral society is a prerequisite for a capitalistic system; the two go hand in hand.

Soros concludes that "the time is right for developing a conceptual framework based on our fallibility." It would have been refreshing had be acknowledged his own fallibility. Unfortunately, Soros' financial success has persuaded the American media and an unsuspecting public to pay attention to his vacant philosophizing. That success is also underwriting some very regrettable grant making that is already making its mark on public policy - and undermining the moral foundation that supports our capitalist economy.

Drug Legalization

The May 1996 issue of Organization Trends reviewed Soros' extensive financial support for nonprofit organizations working for the legalization of drugs. Soros says that his overarching goal is to promote informed discussion of drug policy. But debate and discussion are not his objects. Instead, he is using his philanthropy to muddle public opinion and to change public laws to make illegal drug use legal.

According to Soros, "the war on drugs is doing, more harm to our society than drug abuse itself," and since "substance abuse is endemic in most societies... the war on drugs cannot be won." (See Washington Post, Dec. 4, 1996 and Feb. 2, 1997). Because prohibitionist drug policies contradict his vision of "The Open Society," Soros concludes that they are wrong, and be has launched a vast public relations campaign that has made him the new darling of the media Left. Soros and his acolytes have garnered enormous press attention through a barrage of magazine articles, op-ed pieces, and television appearances.

Three years of spending millions of dollars on a campaign to legalize drugs is finally producing results. The terminology of drug "medicalization" has joined "legalization" and talk about the so-called "non-violent drug offender" in the lexicon of public dialogue. Drugs continue to wreak murder, violence, and mayhem in homes and streets all over America. But the White House's policy of divorcing drugs from crime is what Soros promotes. This notion has gone unchallenged and is embraced by the media.

With the canniness of an aggressive businessman, George Soros has assembled, advised and financed a management team to overcome the common sense of the American public. By constant reference to safe use or use to relieve suffering, these promoters are succeeding in making use of illicit drugs appear to be acceptable conduct.

California's Compassion Campaign

Soros played the most important supporting role in the campaign for the passage of pro-drug legalization laws in California and Arizona. His fame and fortune lent credibility and respectability to the campaigns for California's Proposition 215 and Arizona's Proposition 200. both of which passed last November. Soros' checkbook advocacy and advanced marketing techniques enabled the forces of drug legalization to blitz those states with ad campaigns endorsing "compassion" that were designed to play to voter sympathies. They also are apt to encourage other wealthy individuals to throw in the towel in the war on drugs and contribute more money to legalization efforts.

Emboldened, Soros is now eager to take his crusade on the road. Celebrating his victory, be wrote a February 2, 1997 Washington Post op-ed which proclaimed, "I hope that other states will follow suit. I shall be happy to support (with after tax dollars) some of these efforts." Pro-legalization forces are targeting the following states for drug legalization campaigns in 1997: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michican, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas. Tennessee. Vermont and Washington. Another 17 states have been targeted for 1998.

Last November an expensive public relations package made all the difference in swaying voter opinion. In California, advertisements featured desperately ill often elderly end-stage patients or their survivors pleading for "compassion" in their final days. The public was urged to regard Prop. 215 as a humane measure which would allow physicians to use marijuana to treat cancer and AIDS patients and other seriously ill people. But although proponents called themselves "Californians for Medical Rights," they received mostly from George Soros, with other out-of-state supporters, 68 percent of the $2 million that went to finance their campaign. What they did not advertise is that the initiative does not limit marijuana use to AIDS or cancer. Instead, it is allowed "for any other illness for which marijuana provides relief." Headaches and upset stomach, stress, PMS, depression, writer's cramp. No written prescription is required. There are no age limitations placed on users. Minors, felons, even ail inmates can smoke, possess or cultivate unlimited quantities of marijuana on the verbal recommendation of any physician. There are no restrictions on where marijuana can be smoked. Indeed, it would pen-nit marijuana smoking in public places or the workplace which otherwise are "smoke-free."

Cigarette smoking has been vilified following reports that the carcinogen benzo(a)pyrene, which is found in cigarette smoke, causes cellular changes that lead to cancer. Yet legalizers seem unconcerned about the health hazard of marijuana smoking. They should be. Benzo(a)pyrene is present in nearly 50 percent greater concentration in marijuana smoke, a deep-lung smoke that causes greater damage from its heat and greater absorption of smoke gases and particles into lung tissue.

According to the California law, physicians can recommend marijuana use. But most physicians have received little or no education about illegal drugs, other than the treatment of symptoms. At least 10,000 scientific studies have been conducted at reputable universities and laboratories around the world. The vast majority of the findings reject the "therapeutic" use of marijuana for any of the conditions for which the legalizers tout it. But how many physicians will take the time to review the literature each time a patient comes in with a medical complaint and asks for a doctor's "advice" to use marijuana?

In 1994, the National Institutes of Health reviewed the research on medicinal use of marijuana for the treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, weight loss associated with AIDS, glaucoma, muscle spasticy and multiple sclerosis, and intractable pain. The conclusion cited by Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shama stated that "all available research has concluded that marijuana is dangerous to our health ... [it] harms the brain, heart, lungs and immune system." (Despite this readily available information, the Clinton administration recently provided $1 million to several researchers "to review the scientific literature" on medicinal use of marijuana.)

Arizona's Tough On Crime Campaign

Arizona's initiative differed from California's, as did its more than $1.5 million ad campaign. In Arizona, out-of-state contributors represented over 70 percent of the total expenditure on the campaign. The Arizona measure was brazenly sold as a tough on-crime initiative. The language of Proposition 200 calls for multiple offenders of state drug, laws to serve their full sentences. But it prohibits judges from sending non-violent drug, offenders to prison until their third offence. In other words, '2-strikes-and you're out' - of jail. Moreover, the initiative is not limited to "medical" marijuana. It allows physicians to prescribe any of the 117 currently illicit (schedule 1) drugs. This includes LSD, heroin, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine, none of which have received FDA approval or possess any recognized medical benefit. The law simply requires a written prescription and the concurrence of two physicians.

If the Arizona pro-legalizers' agenda was only to permit marijuana use for medical purposes, they could have brought it before the FDA for approval like any other medicine in question. But proponents know that what they want will never win FDA approval. Their objective is to legalize and legitimize addictive drugs, a step that will compromise the practice of safe medical standards in the U.S.

A paymaster rather than a philanthropist, George Soros has been joined by other wealthy contributors in bankrolling the pro-drug legalization movement. Soros' total contributions to "medical marijuana initiatives" was $980,000 in 1996. $550,000 was spent in California and $430,000 in Arizona. Another $325,000 in Soros' money went to fund pro-legalization organizations or their employees (CA-$25,000 and AZ$300,000). Other major contributors included John Sperling of Arizona (CA$200,000 and AZ-$430,000), Peter Louis of Cleveland (CA-$500,000 and AZ$330,000), Laurence Rockefeller (CA$50,000), The Dennis Tradinc, Group Inc, (CA-$ I 00,000), George Zimmer of California (CA-$ I 00,000 and $160,000, either repaid or forgiven), James Zimmer of Houston (CA-$25,000), Rich Goldman of Freemont, California (CA-$25011.25, in stock), Richard Wolf of Florida (CA-$10,000 and AZ-$25.000), and the Life Aids Lobby of Sacramento (CA-$344,750).

It should be noted that in California about 68 percent of the money to finance the initiative came from a few out-of-state contributors.

Clinton Administration Response

Almost two months after the election, the Clinton administration finally offered a belated response to drug legalization supporters. In a much-publicized December 30, 1996 press conference Drug Czar Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, Attorney General Janet Reno and HHS Secretary Shalala attempted to suggest that the Administration was strongly opposed to "medical" marijuana laws. Gen. McCaffrey's strong statement that "these propositions are not about compassion, they are about legalizing dangerous drugs," would have carried more weight had the administration immediately challenged the legality of the new "medicinal drug" laws in California and Arizona. But tour months later, the Justice Department still seems reluctant to challenge the new state laws, which put the U.S. in violation of international agreements regarding the abuse of illegal drugs, marijuana included, which the U.S. signed and in most instances initiated.

Instead of holding that marijuana does not constitute a medicine, a position widely held in medical and pharmaceutical circles, the Administration has promised to "take into count whether a true doctor-patient relationship existed" before illegal drugs were prescribed. It has threatened to sanction physicians who would prescribe such "medicine" without having a prior relationship with their patients. It is not at all clear how such a relationship will be determined, how sanctions will be implemented, and who will supply the drugs that will otherwise remain illegal.

Project Death in America

Many Americans who worry about the unravelling of our social and moral order will not be persuaded by political campaigns for drug-legalization and medical marijuana use. They also will wonder why a man as successful as George Soros is so consumed by this issue. Their disturbance will only be deepened when they become aware of another Soros passion: euthanasia. In 1994 Soros introduced to the public his Death in America project. He observe , ' America, the land of the perpetually young growing older is an embarrassment, and dying is a failure. Death has replaced sex as the taboo subject of our times. People compete to appear on talk shows to discuss the most intimate details of their sex lives, but they have nothing to say about dying, which in its immensity dwarfs the momentary pleasures of sex." Soros provided $15 million in initial funding for Project Death in America (PDIA), whose headquarters are located at Columbia University's College of Physicians & Surgeons.

Soros has attributed his interest in this issue to his late father. In an interview with the New Yorker (January 23, 1995), Soros recounted his father's battle with cancer and voiced disapproval at the senior Soros's unwillingness to die. According to Soros, his father "...unfortunately wanted to live... I was kind of disappointed in him ... I wrote him off." George Soros's promotion of death can also be traced to his mother, who as a member of the Hemlock Society (a pro suicide organisation committed suicide.

Project Death in America (PDIA) is a grant making foundation that supports euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Its mission is "to transform the culture of dying." Soros has acknowledged that "legalizing euthanasia could have unintended consequences, leading to all kind of abuses ... but... aggressive, life-prolonging interventions, which may at times go against the patient's wishes, are much more expensive..."

In 1995 the PDIA funded 43 programs, and it selected 13 faculty scholars "to begin forming a network of doctors that will eventually reach into one-fourth of America's hospitals and lead to ... the creation of innovative models of care and the development of new curricula on dying." The Director of PDIA is Kathleen M. Foley, M.D., who is the chief of pain service at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Some PDIA-funded programs appear to do little more than enlist the forces of political correctness in the new approach towards death. According to the Open Society Institute's site on the Intemet, "Health Force: Women and Men Against AIDS" helps grieving individuals write "Dear Death" letters as a way of coming to terms with their loss. Native Americans are served by a PDIA grant to the Ellen Stephen Hospice. which has been funded to expand its services at South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to become a national model for Native Americans.

But Soros' intentions are far more ominous. For the moment Australia's vast but little-populated Northern Territory is the only place where Soros' checkbook advocacy has attained its goal of legal physician assisted suicide. Local opponents of euthanasia say Soros is behind the legal struggle there. A law was passed in 1996 permitting physician-assisted suicide. Despite vocal opposition from local physicians, the first two acts of assisted suicide occurred in early February, 1997. In addition, the Australian media has carried stories of patients being pressured to accept euthanasia, and successful advocates predict its eventual legalization in the rest of Australia.

As with the campaign for "medical marijuana," euthanasia is depicted as an act of compassion for the individual against the ignorance and bigotry of society. This tactic easily fits the preconceptions of the media habituated to portraying political and legal challenges to existing prohibitions as reform movements. "The holocausts of the 2Oth century," writes scholar David Walsh in an excellent essay, The Compassion Juggernaut, "have all been committed by people who saw themselves as humanitarians. Compassion has been the road to unlimited cruelty."

In November 1996. the Open Society Institute's web site reported on Soros ' Project Death. It noted that "the Institute of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, with PDIA's urging and support, held its first meeting on care at the end of life. Its examination and evaluation of the quality of care for the terminally ill will result in recommendations to policy makers and practitioners on steps to be taken to improve the delivery of services." (The "services" referred to are assisted suicide.)

In the Netherlands, where medical euthanasia has been "unofficially" permitted for several decades, the government has claimed that the system works so well that they may further expand it. But there are also media reports of increasing numbers of involuntary assisted deaths. And patients have complained that they have been pressured to end the burden that their lives represent to their families and the unnecessary expense they impose on the medical system. The elderly fear going to hospitals.

Soros' philanthropy is beginning to pay off

Last year, two federal appeals courts struck down laws banning assisted suicide, holding that there exists a "constitutional" right for physician-assisted suicide. These two cases were recently argued together before the U.S. Supreme Court and are awaiting decision. Already, Washington and Oregon have passed "physician assisted suicide" laws.

If how we respond to legalized euthanasia takes the same course as California voters' attitudes to "medical marijuana," then all Americans may soon have the right to drug themselves and others to death. This is not just a joke for a comedian's late night talk show. Physicians, no longer bound by the Hippocratic oath, will have the authority to mix their professional judgement with political expedience and economic self-interest to decide whose time is up.

Emma Lazarus Fund Grants 1996

  • Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, NYC, $150,000 Asian Law Caucus, San Francisco, $150,000
  • Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California, Los Angeles, $200,000
  • Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Washington DC, $3 million ,Fund for New Citizens, NYC, $2.5 million
  • Immigrant Legal Resource Center, San Francisco, $500,000
  • National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, Washington, DC, $500,000
  • National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials Educational Fund,
  • Los Angeles, $750,000
  • National Council of La Raza, Washington D.C., $1 million
  • National Immegration Law Center, Los Angeles, $1 million
  • National Immigration Forum, Washington DC, $200,000
  • National Citizenship and Welfare Collaborative of the Immigration Coalitions.
  • Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Dallas, $750,000
  • New York Association for New Americans, New York, $150,000
  • Travelers' Aid of New York, NY, $2 I 0,000
  • ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, San Francisco, $200,000
  • Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, $80,000
  • Illinois Coalition for Immigrant/Refugee Protection, Chicago, $100,000
  • Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, Boston, $80,000
  • New York Immigration Coalition, NYC, $100,000
  • Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights, San Francisco, $100,000
  • Texas Immigration and Refugee Coalition, Dallas, $100,000
  • Urban Institute, Washington DC, $50,000

Fuelling the Welfare Lobby

In our own time mistaken approaches to civil liberties questions frequently have gone hand-in-hand with support for increasing government entitlements programs. For George Soros radical individualism and egalitarian redistribution have been joined in his most recent philanthropic pursuit: preserving the welfare- system. In late 1996 the Hungarian-born Soros announced that he bad decided to focus attention on the U.S., his "adopted country." "Appalled" by the passage of welfare reform legislation, he created the Emma Lazarus Fund, a $50 million grant making program which is yet another appendage of the Open Society Institute (OSI), Soros' umbrella organisation. One unobjectionable purpose of the Fund is to provide vocational training for legal immigrants applying for U.S. naturalisation.

However, most of $11.8 million in grants which has been awarded to date has gone to nonprofit legal services groups committed to undermining, provisions of the welfare reform legislation ending immigrant entitlements (see box). According to OSI literature, the Fund "supports organisations engaged in 'advocacy, policy, and impact litigation strategies on behalf of aliens who are lawfully present in the United States."

Arguing that the new laws on welfare reform are antithetical to the values of an Open Society, Soros is attempting to bypass or overturn their allegedly discriminatory provisions. He reveals a strategy that sows the seeds for potential voter fraud when he asserts, "The Fund supports activities related directly to the citizenship application process as well as English as a second language and civic instructions associated with the preparation for the citizenship exam." Last year's elections were marked by countless stories of voter fraud related to the registration and voting of immigrants. Critics accuse the Clinton administration of deliberately naturalizing thousands of new citizens (many with criminal backgrounds) so that they could vote in the November elections. Likewise, in California and elsewhere various get-out-the-vote groups were apparently responsible for widespread voting by illegal immigrants.

Additionally, the Chronicle of Philanthropy has reported (Nov. 12, 1996) that Soros "hopes to reduce the rate of teenage pregnancy . . . He also wants to support programs that further abortion rights and increase access to birth control devices."

It turns out that Soros is actually a creature of the left. an ACLU, rights-oriented liberal with a lot of cash. His "open society" is not about freedom; it is about license. His vision rejects the notion of ordered liberty in favor of an ideology of rights and entitlements.

The Soros who declares, "1 fancied myself as some kind of God," appears determined to replace Judeo-Christian moral values with the rules of his "Open Society." His policy agenda is the extension of his motto, "If I spend enough, I will make it right." History has proved again and again that such thinking produces disastrous results. Unless George Soros is challenged, he and those who support his positions will win and the American people will lose.

Permission to reprint is granted, provided credit is given to the Capital Research Center.