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in the case of sickness it cannot be so, unless upon a basis. different to what has hitherto been adopted, for I hardly need say that while a man only dies once he may require sick relief a dozen times during his lifetime, depending of course upon the locality, his occupation, and his habits. This may at first seem rather a weak argument, but as the assertion is a fact I have no reason to fear any criticism upon that point. As to a graduated scale of contribution according to the age at which a member may join I entirely agree with, but I consider the numerous amounts usually mentioned by the executive bodies for the guidance of the branches of Friendly Societies quite unnecessary. according to the returns compiled by the Corresponding Secretary of the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows (the lateMr. Ratcliffe), the average of sickness of City, Rural, and Town Districts are very different, and when we come to the Colliers and Miners the difference is still greater. I say then how can it be equitable to base the contributions of the whole as an average for the Rural Districts, as against that of the Coal Districts. In the one case they would certainly be paying too much, while in the other they would be paying too little.
If, however, returns could be obtained and statistics compiled showing the experience of sickness and death in each particular district, and tables of contributions and benefits. framed upon such a basis, I do not think anything could be nearer perfection; for, as I said before, the experience of a Kingdom can hardly be applicable to every individual District. Let the contributions and benefits of each District be based upon its own experience and we shall then find Friendly Societies more prosperous than ever.
The question of the valuation of the assets and liabilities of the various Friendly Societies is now occupying the attention of all those connected with them, and I have therefore thought it prudent to add a few remarks upon the subject in the latter portion of the Hand-book, which I trust will be found useful.
Not a new feature, but certainly not an universal one in connection with Friendly Societies, is the establishment of a Superannuation Fund, and when its benefits are become more widely known and its results realized, I venture to think that we shall find them connected with a great number of branches. A few remarks upon this subject will also be found within these leaves.
In conclusion, I trust that the title that has been chosen for this book will neither be thought presumtuous nor found to be inappropriate. I may further add that my object in placing it before the public is not with the view of seeking popularity, nor is it to gratify any inclination to appear in print, but rather a desire to endeavour to supply an acknowledged want.
If I succeed in so shewing the advantages of Friendly Societies to persons who are not members at present as to induce them to join one of the many in existence, and in enlightening in any degree the members and officers at present belonging to Friendly Societies, as well as explaining to them more fully the Acts of Parliament under which they are governed, my object is attained.
9th March, 1880.
On the Importance and Advantages of Friendly Societies to the Community, and the principles upon which they should be established to secure their permanent usefulness.
The uncertainty of life and the instability of fortune have been the favourite topics of divines and moralists from the dawn of civilization down to the present time, and until the early part of the last century the exact calculation appears to have escaped notice, and was then rather surmised than correctly ascertained. Several eminent philosophers had endeavoured to dissolve the problem before the days of that celebrated philosopher, Buffon, but it is to his patient labours in collecting reliable vital statistics, to his great care in arranging and in analyzing them, that we are indebted to the present day for the ground-work upon which our Friendly Societies and Life Assurance Associations are now established and carried on.
The improved sanitary conditions of the people, the many improvements in the construction of dwelling houses, and the increased knowledge acquired by the working classes as to their health, have somewhat decreased the rate of mortality (more especially in our large towns), so that the laws and principles laid down by Buffon have been rather proved than affected by the amelioration in the public health, and underlie and support the entire system upon which the present payments into Friendly Societies are established; and, fortunately for those that are unable (through lack of
education) to understand the very difficult and often complicated problems laid down by some of the most eminent writers of this age, the principles are easily understood, and I shall endeavour to recite them in such a form as to render them self-explanatory to those unacquainted with such matters.
Supposing we take the death-rate of England and Wales, for example, to be one in every fifty of the inhabitants, it will be seen at a glance that a Society consisting of the whole population and each person paying on an average a contribution of one pound per annum, could pay the sum of Fifty Pounds at the death of every member. It is however equally evident that a system so very simple would be grossly unjust for the contribution would be far too much for the young and healthy, and far too little for the aged and infirm. The injustice would be very great, as will be seen by the following, which has been extracted from Buffon's works:
"One-fourth of the human race perishes, so to speak, without seeing the light of day, while one-fourth, or nearly, dies in the first eleven months after birth, and that in this short period the much greater number die under five months.
"One-third of the human race perishes before the age of 20 months, that is to say, before attaining the full use of the members and other organs.
"One-half of the human race perishes before the age of eight years and one month, that is to say, before the full development of the body and before the soul has manifested itself by reason.
"Two-thirds of the human race perishes before the age of 39, so that scarcely a third of the men born can propagate or establish themselves in society.