There was this movie with Peter Sellers in which he played a character who was — with all this political correctness floating around, we don’t know the appropriate phrase du jour; perhaps it is — “mentally challenged,” but who everybody else thought was a great genius. At a press conference he was asked what he thought of China. He paused, bowed his head and slowly said, “China is full of Chinese.” The reporters nodded their heads in awe and murmured, “Full of Chinese, hmm,” remarking to each other how brilliant he was.
Money also does this to people. If you have a lot of it, people will never say you are crazy. Only poor people are crazy. You would be “eccentric.” When a rich person shows up at a party wearing the most ridiculous clothes, everybody else then thinks they’re the ones who aren’t in style.
All this makes us think of George Soros, who apparently believes his money makes him a player on the world’s stage — someone whom other people should listen to and respect. Worse yet, these “other” people are beguiled into actually believing this nonsense. The thinking goes something like this. “All my life I have directed all my energies into making as much money as possible. Now, this man makes more in one day than I make in twenty years. Therefore, he must be a genius.” But, if a baseball player hits 500 home runs, does that make him anything other than a home run hitter? If a tap dancer knocks your socks off and sounds like a combination of Fred Astaire and Bojangles, would you say he is anything more than a great tap dancer? Would you go to him to have your tonsils removed or for advice as to which mutual fund to buy?
George Soros came under our microscope some time back when he and some other billionaires took out advertisements in the newspapers opposing the abolition, or even the lowering of, the Federal Estate Tax. We, on the other hand, believed that President Bush was on the right track when he expressed the thought that the estate tax was the unfairest of the panoply of taxes that we pay. When you make the money, you are taxed up to 50 percent. Then if the government is lucky enough to have you die, they tax your estate, which is whatever you have left after a lifetime of paying income tax, once again up to 50 percent. If a small businessman or farmer works hard his entire life, pays his taxes in the hope of passing something to his children, perhaps even to keep the business or farm running when he is gone, at his death the government will swoop down to grab a substantial portion.
Millionaires have legions of lawyers and armies of accountants who devise ways to avoid these taxes, unlike the rest of us ordinary people. Mr. Soros and his colleagues who urge that estate taxes be maintained should first reveal what they have done to minimize their estate taxes. Our guess is that they have spent more on tax lawyers and accountants than most of the rest of us could possibly leave as our entire estate. Soros reminds us of the guy who wins board approval and gets into a private club or cooperative apartment house, and then tries to make it difficult for the next guy.
One thing we do know for sure, in the advertisement that Soros and friends ran in the press, basically urging that everyone should be liable for paying taxes, mention was made of an organization that was formed by them to support their aims. The office of this organization was in Boston or Philadelphia (coming from New York the geographic lines are blurred). We called and told them, to their eager delight, that we wanted to make a contribution. But we wanted to make sure it was tax deductible. We were assured it was. We were reminded of the old Southern preacher who said, “Don’t do like I do. Do like I say do.”
There is also the moral problem that we have with the way enormously rich people make their money. Other than wealth created by virtue of an invention, such as Edison and electricity, the acquisition of wealth is not a guiltless process, nor certainly is it a profitless and without harm transfer of monies. Notwithstanding Soros’s professed interest in helping people via his charities, there is the fact that speculation in foreign currencies à la Soros can beget economic havoc in countries. In 1992, Soros earned one billion dollars in a one day by betting that the British pound would fall. Although Soros denies it, there are some that accuse him of causing the 1997 Asian economic crisis by his betting against the Thai baht. When these sorts of things occur it ultimately filters down to the humblest of a country’s citizens. It is said that when a butterfly flutters its wings on a plain in Africa, it begets a hurricane in Louisiana. Soros is no butterfly!
IF THESE WERE OUR ONLY thoughts about Soros we would happily consign him to our private hell peopled by hypocrites, windbags, parasites and blowhards such as some used car salesmen, critics, lawyers, landlords, theatrical agents and real estate brokers, and simply forget all about him. No, we believe he is a more destructive person — a self-hating Jew whose money gives him a podium to spout his nonsense.
We live in a world awash with anti-Semitism, from bombings of synagogues in Istanbul to the bombing of a Jewish school in a Paris suburb to the French ambassador making scatological remarks about Israel at a London dinner party, to a German politician and army leader spewing hatred.
A recent study demonstrated that Europeans believe Israel is the greatest threat to world peace. Nearly 60 percent of people surveyed from 15 E.U. countries said they consider Israel a threat. Only 53 percent said they consider Iran and North Korea to be a threat.
Self-hating Jew Soros openly says that he is not supportive of Israel. Here’s his reference to his Jewishness and perhaps to the fact that he does not donate to Jewish organizations: “[M]y Jewishness did not express itself in a sense of tribal loyalty that would have led me to support Israel.” Somebody should interrupt him from counting his money long enough to explain to him that Israel is a nation not a “tribe.”
Another gem from Soros. “There are some people in the Bush administration who have the same mentality as Arafat or Sharon.” Thank goodness for those who do think like Sharon! But to equate our administration’s leaders with a thug and murderer is beyond the pale. Soros ought to dwell on the fact that if he were a citizen of any one of the dictatorships that now threaten Israel and he equated one of its leadership with a common criminal he probably would soon find himself headless.
The world, with all its technological improvement, has not changed in its psyche. Anti-Semitism still walks much of the land, a seething venom under a facade of racial acceptance and equality. Three things are certain: death, taxes and anti-Semitism.
The ovens, grown cold over the last sixty years, are there, waiting only for a spark to be fired up. The only thing in this regard that is different now from then, is that now there is a State that Jews can turn to, that righteous countries can morally and practically support, a State that even if it were abandoned by the whole world could defend itself and be a haven for all Jews.
If the unhappy day ever comes when Israel is deserted by the rest of the world, Mr. Soros should understand that all the converting in the world, as his mother did, or all the passing as a non-Jew, as he did to survive World War II, will not help. The ovens did not distinguish between rich or poor. Nor should all of Soros’s money give him a “pass” when it comes to public repudiation. If you put a pile of cash upon a donkey’s back, underneath it he is still a donkey.