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When a working-man casts even a hasty glance into the future, three great contingencies appear-want of employment, sickness, and death. He may escape the first and second, but he cannot avoid the third. He will at once see the necessity of providing against these, and the impossibility of doing so unless he lives within his income and invests his savings in a profitable manner. There are doubtless exceptions to every rule, but few working-men will be unable, by the help of thrifty and prudent wives, to save sufficient year by year as to make them look on the future with comparatively easy minds. The dangers into which they are liable to run are saving on the wrong items of expenditure, and making ill-advised investments. A man had better not save at all than save by not sending his children to school, or by refusing to allow himself and his family a sufficiency of wholesome food. In the first case, he deprives his children of that knowledge which is better than riches,' and of a means of supporting themselves in the world, at least equal in importance to their physical labour ; while in the second case, his parsimony will sow the seeds of disease and decay, not to be counterbalanced by any investment. In this unwise neglect of the education of children lies the cause of much of the misery that we see around us.. Go into any of our large towns, and you will find thousands of parents spending more money every week in indulgences which they would be far better without, or in subscriptions to clubs which end in disappointment and loss, while their children are growing up not only without the instruction and discipline of the school, but with the instruction and discipline of the streets, that are too well fitting them to tread the same improvident and intemperate path as their fathers. Even among the richer classes a somewhat similar feeling prevails. When a necessity arises for retrenchment, the first item struck off is the expenditure on the education of the children, and they are either altogether removed from school or sent to one of an inferior quality. Parents generally forget what kind of a possession a good education is, and overlook the fact that, unlike material property, when once gained it can never be lost, and that the longer it is used the stronger and more extended does it become.

But there is less danger to be apprehended from saving in the wrong way than from improvident investments. It is with savings as it is in trade and with capital of all kinds—the amount of profits is in the inverse ratio of the security. If a man is anxious to make money fast, he must go out of the field of legitimate business and enter that of speculation, and while he has the chance of great gains he incurs the risk of great losses. When this is practised to an excessive extent it becomes neither more nor less than gambling, and is inevitably followed by the same results. The gains, if any, are not the legitimate interest on capital or the produce of labour, but simply represent the losses of others. There are many societies founded on a speculative basis which hold out to working - men the hope of high interest combined with firm security, but such societies should receive no encouragement. Money, like everything else, has always its fair market - price; and whenever any society offers a higher than the market-price, the difference between the two is a gain of interest counterbalanced by the increased risk of the principal. Working-men, therefore, should be especially careful in investing their money to prefer good security to high interest or other great advantages. Great capitalists 'may with impunity embark in speculations, for their transactions can be so varied that losses in one way are made up in another ; but if the working - - man be unfortunate in his investment, the loss is usually the loss of his all.

Assuming, then, that by a little self-denial and prudent management savings could easily be made, let us now review the various modes of investment open to the working-classes, and the extent to which these have been used. These may be classed under three heads:— 1. Investments to accumulate property ; 2. Investments to provide against sickness and the consequences of death ; 3. Investments both of money and labour, so as to procure a better reward for the latter. Under the first head we rank Savings? Banks, Building, Land, and Loan Societies ; under the second, Friendly Societies and Mutual - Assurance Companies ; and under the third, Co-operative Stores, and Industrial Associations. Each of these we shall consider in detail.

Before the establishment of savings' banks, the working - classes had no place of security in which their savings could be beneficially deposited. Those who were careful and provident hoarded their money in secret and unsuspected places ; wrapped it up in an old stocking, or put it under lock and key in a chest of drawers. It was not perhaps secure, nor did it reproduce itself

, but it was always at hand ready for any emergency. The amount thus hoarded up must have been very small when compared with the sums we now find accumulated in the savings' banks. There are many people who when they have money cannot rest until they spend it : a shilling or a sovereign, to use their own phrase, “ burns a hole in the pocket;' and unless it is put beyond their reach, say in the savings' bank, they are sure to squander it away. Large sums were undoubtedly spent in this heedless manner before such banks were formed. The nature of a savings' bank is well known. It meets the requirements of the workingclasses by facilitating the weekly deposit of small sums; by paying a rate of interest a little higher than the ordinary banks; and by offering the security of the nation. The limitation of the amount received is merely to prevent the use of the bank by persons for whom it was not intended; and the rule requiring notice to be given before any money is withdrawn, must prevent in many cases a reckless application of the money.

It would be difficult to imagine any bank simply of deposit better contrived for the wants of the working-classes than the savings' banks of this country; nevertheless the truth is, that the depositors belong in very few cases to the working-classes, and that these classes look on the banks with jealousy and distrust. The number of depositors on 20th November 1849, the date to which the most recent returns have been made up, was 1,087,354, including 22,323 charitable institutions and friendly societies, and the total amount deposited, including interest, was £28,537,010. The class of the community who are the chief depositors in savings' banks are domestic servants ; after them come clerks, shopmen, and teachers; but of actual working-men the number is very small. The amount invested in these banks has diminished considerably since 1844. In that year it was more than £31,250,000; in 1847 it was £1,000,000 less, and in 1849 nearly £3,000,000 less than in 1844. To some extent this decrease may be explained by the state of trade and employment, but it is perhaps more to be attributed to the increasing distrust of these banks on the part of the working-classes. Nor is this distrust to be at all wondered at. During the last two or three years the cases of defalcation by the managers of savings' banks have been painfully numerous, aggravated by the manner in which they have been performed, and the number of years over which they have extended. The details of many of these cases have exhibited an amount of maladministration and culpable neglect on the part of the trustees, combined with an ingenuity of theft on the part of the actuary or manager, which, had it been described in a work of fiction, would have appeared incredible. The history of railways exhibits many deeds that will not bear the light of day, but they appear bright when compared with the cold, heartless, hypocritical villany that will for ever disgrace the history of savings' banks. But when the frauds came to light the depositors felt little alarm, trusting to the national security;' but they found they had deceived themselves when they learned that the government was responsible only for the money it had received, and that the money of which the depositors had been robbed had never been received by the government at all. The reaction against the banks was natural, and we fear will continue for a long time to come, unless some law, which is evidently much required, should be passed, by which the national security should be given for all the money paid in.

Besides this feeling of distrust other reasons are assigned for noninvestment in savings' banks. It was stated before a committee of the House of Commons last year, that one reason why the working-man does not invest his money in the savings' banks is, that the fact of his being able to save money is used as a pretence for his wages being reduced ; and he carefully excludes from the knowledge of his employer the fact that he is able to save.' In proof of this it was stated that working - men in Clerkenwell did not invest in the savings' bank there, but went to another at some distance, where they were not known, and that people from a distance came to Clerkenwell for the same reason to prevent its being whispered about that So-and-so is a saving man, and


therefore work for less wages.' We hope for the sake of the employers of labour in this country that such cases are rare. The circumstance of a man saving out of his wages ought to make his master respect and value him the more. The rate of wages is determined by a totally different chain of circumstances; but even if wages were to be affected by savings, it would be the interest of the master, as a general rule, to pay his provident better than his improvident workmen, inasmuch as he might gain in the greater economy of labour and material practised by the saving man much more than any diminution of his wages. Before the same committee it was said: 'Very large sums of money are wasted in borrowing money even till the time arrives to get the money out of the savings' bank. If a very poor person wants £3 immediately, he would give 25 per cent. for it.' The rule requiring notice to be given before any money is withdrawn will doubtless be in some cases inconvenient, but it has its advantages. If a man with a deposit in the savings' bank be so pressed for money as to be unable to wait till he can draw out his deposit

, he will have no difiiculty in obtaining, if not a postponement of the claim on him, at least a

loan on reasonable terms on his satisfactorily proving that he has money in the bank.

But doubtless there are other reasons more powerful still which prevent the working-classes from becoming depositors in savings' banks. They are government institutions, and as such a large party consider it a duty to decry them. This perpetual suspicion of the government,' though right to a certain extent, is in this case utterly unjust. The government derives no advantage from the banks; the money is invested in the public funds, and the small difference in the interest paid and received is entirely absorbed in the expense of management. If the banks were either private or joint-stock concerns, and the depositors had a share in their management, they would find more favour, at least for a time, with many among the working-classes. But it requires no prophet to foresee that from such a state of things mismanagement and frauds would ensue, and the establishments share the fate of many other schemes founded on appeals to the prejudices, ignorance, and cupidity of the people.

These banks are, however, simply banks of deposit; the money accumulates at the usual rate of interest, and no indirect advantage results from them. To obtain a higher rate of interest, combined with social or political advantages, building and land societies have been projected, offering a good investment, and at the same time the prospect of the possession of household or landed property, and its natural attendant—the right of voting in municipal and general elections. The principle of the building society may be thus stated :—The society consists of so many shares,

usually about £120 each. Each shareholder pays a certain weekly, fortnightly, or monthly sum-amounting to from £6 to £7 per annum-for each share of the above amount. When the accumulated payments reach the value of one share, it is put up for sale among the members, and sold to the member offering the highest premium; in fact, the money is advanced as a loan, on which interest has to be paid by the purchaser until the society comes to an end—that is, until each member has received the value of the share. The money thus purchased by the member is invested by him in land, buildings, or other premises approved of by the society; and on this property the society of course retains a claim until all the obligations of the member have been discharged. Each society is not expected to last more than ten years, but the time is necessarily shorter or longer according to the success or otherwise of its operations. Thus if each share is fixed at £120, and a member purchases one at a premium of £20, he will have to pay 5s. each fortnight for his share; the same sum as interest on the money advanced, and a portion, say one-tenth (supposing the society to last for ten years), of the premium. These payments would be £15 annually for ten years; but to meet these he has the rents of the property purchased by the money advanced. Now it is obvious that the value of his investment will depend on the choice he has made of the property purchased; it may bring him in 10 per cent., or 5 per cent., or some years it may not bring him anything at all. The cases are extremely rare in which house - property realises more than 10 per cent. per annum; so that the utmost to be expected in the shape of rent would be £12 per annum, leaving £3 to be paid out of other savings for ten years. Virtually, then, at the end of ten years the member would have paid £30 for property originally worth £120. But this is under the most favourable circumstances, and is quite irrespective of fines, repairs, deterioration of property, and casualties. Had the same sum- —that is, £3 per annum—been invested in the savings' bank, it would at the end of ten years have increased, at compound interest, to about £35. If, on the other hand, the property returned only 5 per cent., this would necessitate a payment of £9 per annum; or, at the end of ten years, property originally costing £120 would have been procured for £90. The same yearly sum paid into the savings' bank would during the same time have accumulated to not much less than the same amount. In both the society and the bank the risk of loss by fraudulent management has to be encountered, but the risk is certainly much greater in the former than the latter.

Viewed simply as an investment, it is difficult to say whether such societies are preferable to savings' banks, good management being presupposed. In the one case, a certain yearly rate of interest is guaranteedsmall certainly, but about equal to that received by holders of stock in the public funds, and greater than the dividends paid by many railway companies ; while in the other, the returns from the property are liable to constant fluctuation from bad tenants, houses standing empty, and other causes. The bank investment does not deteriorate by time, but houses are constantly requiring repairs, and at the end of fifty or sixty years many of those built to pay such high interest will be of no value. To superintend property and to collect the rents involves an expenditure of time if done personally, and of money if done by deputy, to neither of which the depositor in the savings' bank is liable.

But irrespective of the question of investment, there are indirect advantages connected with these building societies that greatly commend them to the favour of the people. They are self-governed: each shareholder has a voice and a vote in the management, and at all meetings has a right to that “ honest liberty of free speech' so dear to every man in our island. The lessons in the management of public business given in these societies form in themselves a most important part of the education of the people. It is not in political clubs — where speculative questions are freely discussed, and the management of public business commented on, but where no one has anything but his opinion at stake-that sound practical views of government can be acquired, but it is rather in such societies as we are now considering, where men have real business to manage and actual property at stake. Again, these societies give great facilities for the acquisition of property in its most attractive form of houses and lands, and of that much-coveted privilege—the right of voting. A man who has risen by his own industrial savings to be a house-owner, a landed proprietor, and a free and independent elector, has more importance in the community than the man who has merely a deposit in the savings' bank; and no man rises to such a position without at the same time rising in his general character and in the respect of those by whom he is surrounded. Some of the best citizens of the community are found among these men; for their actual experience of public business has trained them to form just opinions of public affairs, and their love of country is rendered all the more intense because some portion, however small, of that country belongs to them.

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