George Soros at Cato: It's all about Hayek.

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April 29 2011 1:53 PM

Left, Right, and Soros

The billionaire philanthropist says he wants to stay out of politics, at least for now.

(Continued from Page 1)

"I want you, George, to come out on the record now to say that you're in favor of the repeal of the National Labor Relations Act," said Epstein. "Then we'll have something we can talk about!"

Soros didn't answer that, but he did criticize Dodd-Frank. "I look at the way the Dodd-Frank bill, and its failure to address the issues, how it was lobbied into incomprehension and inconsistency by special interests of various kinds," he said.

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Hamowy mostly prevented the audience from taking the conversation from Hayek to politics. A question about the Affordable Care Act slipped in anyway. Soros didn't love the new law.

"The pharmaceutical companies made a fabulous deal," he said, "when they voted off any reduction in further costs for medicines, and then the insurance companies destroyed the core of the reform, which would have provided a public option."

The speeches ended, and Soros eluded more questions about politics. One reporter tried to ask him about the Koch brothers; Vachon quickly assured Soros that he didn't really know them, and that the question needn't be answered. He did take a question about Hayek.

Was his dream of a high-minded political/economic discussion possible?

"Stop proving your point by proving the other side wrong," he said. "Once you recognize that principle, you have a reasonable base for discussion. Get to some new basis for discussion instead of effectively tearing the country apart, which is what right now the political parties are doing."

But how did that happen? One reason for the renewed interest in Hayek, after all, is the newfound interest in The Road to Serfdom, his best-selling but least serious work. Glenn Beck's viewers haven't read much about Hayek's rejection of conservatism or even his economic theories. They've read about how any and all social welfare leads inexorably toward fascism.

"[Hayek] has, perhaps, allowed himself to be used by some extremists without him being an extremist," shrugged Soros. With that, he headed out of the building.

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