6. “An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.”
In a speech on November 13, 1969, then Vice President Spiro Agnew opined that “Bad news drives out good news.” His theory said that the news media prefer to cover salacious, scandalous, or confrontational news because the excitement it generates sells papers. And monotony doesn’t.
Agnew stated a “race to the bottom” argument. We observe this same line of reasoning used in many other fields. For example, when seemingly artistically principled musicians make an album designed for wide appeal, they are called sellouts. The same holds for filmmakers who appear to be trying to make a hit rather than a cinematic statement. Folks or organizations in any industry or endeavor that has important, mission-oriented goals or publicly places high value on quality is vulnerable to this kind of accusation.
What do people say about those accused of engaging in race-to-the-bottom tactics?
- They are appealing to the least common denominator.
- They lost their integrity.
- It used to be about the music.
- They put the bottom line ahead of quality.
- I can’t trust them anymore.
- I might as well buy anything in their market now.
- I wish they’d go back to doing what they used to do.
If there’s a common theme underlying all of these complaints and others like them, it’s an adaptation of Agnew’s line: Bad money drives out good money.
What’s this got to do with us in OA? When it comes to Tradition 6, everything! Because when it comes to our primary purpose virtually any money is bad money.
Greed is one of the deadly sins, warned against in every culture. Like our inhuman compulsion toward food, greed can transform well-meaning people into money monsters by playing on our fears and our self-esteem. It is a defect of character, and it has the ability to tear people apart. Tradition 1 tells us that OA unity is crucial to our recoveries and our ability to carry the message. Money can disrupt that unity very, very quickly. Alarmist? Perhaps, but consider that in recent history, a high-ranking OA treasury official in our region made off with the funds under their control.
So we have a duty to keep money out of the fellowship except as a carefully guarded tool for reaching sufferers. That goes for the money we donate as well as money from outside enterprises. We don’t want to be engaged in competition or cooperation with diet programs, food rehabs, or any other kind of organization lest we get dragged into a race toward profitability. Once that happens people will start talking about us, too:
- What’s the difference between OA and one of the diet companies that never worked for me anyway?
- I remember when OA was about recovery.
- Gee, whatever happened to OA, anyway?