The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. FRIDAY JUNE 28, 1889. FRIENDLY S OCIETIES.
Very serious reading for a great section of the community is the annual report of the Eegistrar of Friendly Societies, which has just been presented to Parliament, A large and increasing number of working men and tradesmen join one or other of the many (Societies of which branohes are established m flew Zealand, iheir chief object is generally to gain the benefits of Ibo, medical advice and treatment which thu lodge doctor dispenses to members and their families, and to provide to some extent against the total cessation of income m case of their own illness by contributing to the sick fund from which a weekly allowance is paid to members incapacitated for work. It is when help is most wanted, that is, m time of sickness, that the benefits ot the (societies are claimed, and it can hardly be estimated how much distress might be caused were the assistance calculated upon not to be forthcoming, Ihat this contingency is not very remote the Registrar's report tells as with painful distinctness. It states that of thirteen societies having head offices or central boards for New Zealand only eight hold accumulated benefit funds, and of these eight one shows a surplus and six a deficiency. For the reason of the defioiency three of the bodies assign "inadequate contributions" ag the sole cause, and the other three give this as one of the causes. Of 161 branches of the 13 central bodies 39 show a surplus and 102 a deficiency, uf these 102, "inadequate contributions" is assigned m regard to 18 as the sole cause, and m regard to 76 aB one of the causes of such deficiency. In 7 of the 3tt which show a surplus m respect ot the branch benefit fund, such surplus is more than swallowed up by the deficiency m the central body. Uf the fuueral fund of the eleven separately registered lodges one shows a surplus and ten a deficiency, Of these ten, "inadequate contributions" is assigned m regard to seven as the sole cause, and m regard to three as one ol the causes of such deficiency. The advocates of an adequate scale of contributions will thus find much m the report to strengthen their contentions, oouie step must be taken, and that without further delay, to restore these societies to a position of Bolvency. The rtegistrar forcibly says : — " Worse than the folly of a blind disregard of earnest warning is the action of those who admit a new member into their Society which has been shown to be actually insolvent without informing him that if he shah live to be old, there is no reasonable probability that he will receive the benefit which he is being led to expect, and it should bo borne m mind that the breaking up of an insolvent Society does not affect its own members only, its collapse brings discredit on all kindred Societies, because the general public do not distinguish between the sound and the unsound, Out3ide the ranks of Friendly Societies, many are asking ' How can a sound Society be dis tinguished ?' There is a simple answer to this question — The result of a Society's valuation is the true index of its position, so that it is easily within the reach of everyone to ascertain whether a Sooiety is established on a secure foundation, and whether it is being managed with prudence and care. From time to time paragraphs are inserted m the local newspapers m whioh the membership and funds of Friendly Societies are get forth, accompanied by congratulatory remarks on their financial position and numerical progress, These notices cannot be regarked as trustworthy evidence of the soundness of the Society, It bociecies would publish their true position as ascertained by valuation the public would have an exact means of deciding which of them m any given locality itis prudent tojoin. It may betaken for granted that if a Society suppresses its valuation report, it is because that report is unfavorable." Those who desire to make provision for themselves and families m case of sickness should thero fore join no Sopiety until they have carefully examined its position as certified to by the Government actuary, go that they may be sura of reaping, if necessary, the benefits to which their contributions entitle them. The solvency of Lodges and Societies ib a most important matter to their members, yet it is one with regard to which utter carelessness is too often ovinsed, We trust that a crisis will not be needed to compel those who are responsible for the dangerous state of affairs disclosed by the itegistrar's report to set their finances on a sounder footing, and that never again will J there be occasion for such another report «& that just ieeued.