I recently wrote an article, The Truth about Craig Biddle vs. Smears by Some at ARI.
Rather than respond to the article, ARI issued a statement attacking it as “riddled with errors and distortions.” What errors and distortions? They don’t say. Surely they could have spent a few minutes out of respect for readers to provide a few examples of errors and distortions. If I got something wrong, the correction would be welcome.
Instead, they announced that, after 25 years, “Mr. Barney was removed from ARI’s Board of directors by a vote of 11- 0” and listed the 11 directors complete with their credentials. Well, that should settle it. Right? They don’t say why I was voted off. You’re supposed to fill in the blank. Was Mr. Barney dishonest?… was he immoral?… was he stealing money? …was he incompetent? What? You are left to wonder. So, let me fill in the blank.
In my companies, and in the business world in general, agreements are taken seriously. A major policy is: “Keep all agreements once made.” Keeping agreements is a matter of integrity. Lead by Yaron, ARI broke important agreements. Most recently they twice broke the agreement (announced publicly) to work with Craig Biddle and The Objective Standard. Much earlier, they also promised me that if I continued contributing money, they would (among other things) develop and implement a conflict resolution process for dealing objectively with disputes and differences. They never did what they promised. I was cheated.
After this chain of broken agreements (I’ll post more about this later), I confronted Yaron about them and pointed out that this is not how business and fundraising is done. I asked him to honor his promises and keep his agreements. He didn’t, so I withdrew my funding and said I would not resume it until he started keeping his agreements.
Yaron’s angry response was to complain that I didn’t trust him and demand that I get off the Board. He gave the Board an ultimatum: Either I would be voted off the Board or he would resign. So, what could the Board do? Obviously, the Board could not lose its chairman and spokesman. He called a special Board meeting in which he complained about my distrust. When he was done complaining about me to the Board, I invited the Board to vote me off. The vote was on Zoom, and it was a “kinda-sorta” vote in that many did not speak or physically indicate their vote (it was recorded).
Such an ultimatum to a Board would usually result in implementing its dispute resolution process—a rational process for getting the relevant facts on the table to discuss and work through. But no such process existed, and reason was not applied. Applying reason to such a conflict—thinking deeply and logically, and engaging respectfully in civil discourse—is the Objectivist ideal. And upholding justice—judging people in accordance with the relevant facts and treating them accordingly—is a central Objectivist virtue. ARI should have applied these virtues to Craig Biddle and to me. But they did not.
Rather than face the facts and uphold their agreements, the Board capitulated to Yaron.
I had given 25 years of dedicated service to the Board and massive financial contributions over 35 years—including creating and funding ARI Campus, probably the greatest improvement to ARI in 35 years.
All I asked for was for ARI to uphold its agreements.
“The Objectivists Ethics” (in The Virtue of Selfishness) is the most valuable document on ethics ever written. It clearly sets out how to live rationally, productively, and with purpose and pride. And these virtues apply to companies as well as individuals. ARI must uphold these principles.