Sinking Funds

Remember this story?

A lifeboatman who served with the RNLI for 15 years was sacked alongside his junior colleague for having mugs with naked women on them in the office.

Whitby crewman Ben Laws and his workmate Joe Winspear were allegedly sacked over the phone on Tuesday.

The pair are reported to have swapped the ‘jokey’ tea mugs for Secret Santa presents.

One featured Mr Winspear’s head superimposed on a naked woman’s body.

And I said:

As an organisation grows and gets more wealthy, parasites in the form of professional “managers” come in and use the excess cash to feather their own nests and set about building their own little empires. In effect, the organisation splits in two. You have a ruling class, sitting in plush air conditioned offices pushing progressive agendas and advancing their careers; and you have everyone else, including those tasked with fulfilling the core function of the organisation.

Well, whaddya know?

The chief executive of the RNLI has said that the lifeboat charity is facing the “perfect storm” of a shortfall in funds at a time when its services are more in demand than ever.

Lifeboat crews and lifeguards are being called out more often to save lives but the charity is suffering from a shortfall, largely created by the economic climate and a drop in money left to the charity in supporters’ wills.

Of course, the drop-off in donations has nothing to do with the RNLI demonstrating to the public that it is nowadays more a jobs program for middle-class grifters than an organisation devoted to saving lives at sea.

In 2018 the RNLI’s financial resources dropped by £28.6m. Its total expenditure was £192.9m but its net income was £186.6m, leaving an operating loss of £6.3m. A leading factor that contributed was a reduction in legacy income of £8.5m.

And how much of that £192.2m is spent on middle managers whose job is to patrol lifeboat stations in all weathers looking out for offensive coffee mugs?

I notice that the CEO who presided over the debacle last year has moved on to another cushy posting, replaced by one Mark Dowie who is:

a former naval officer who went on to work in the banking industry

Which sounds a lot like the previous chancer, but at least this one does seem to have some relevant experience:

Dowie gave the example of Salcombe lifeboat station in south Devon, where he volunteered before taking on the role of chief executive, as an example of how the pressure on the service was growing.

Right, but:

Dowie, who has been in post for four months, said: “As a people we use the sea in ways that change all the time. We have many more people working on the sea, things that we weren’t doing when we were founded, for example wind farms. But there is also a vast amount more pleasure activity in, on and around the sea.”

Are there really many more people working on the sea than in 1824? I doubt it. The man is talking rot. Four months into the job and the only thing on his mind is how to get more money in, his predecessor having demolished the institute’s reputation in a matter of days.

Dowie said he hoped the decrease in bequests was just about “ebbs and flows”. He said: “We don’t have an easy way of getting statistics on why the amount of money from legacies was reduced.”

Translation: we know damned well why the money is drying up but we don’t want to say anything which will detract attention from our core business of policing the morals of those who volunteer to risk their lives for those at sea.

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31 thoughts on “Sinking Funds

  1. The other thing that happens is that when the money starts drying up because of the middle managers, the cuts get made to the productive side so the managers can keep their jobs.

    (Eventually there may have to be a clear-out/restructuring of middle managers. But those clear-outs always seem to involve a whole new bunch of middle managers being appointed with different job titles.)

  2. The other thing that happens is that when the money starts drying up because of the middle managers, the cuts get made to the productive side so the managers can keep their jobs.

    Of course: the middle managers are tasked with implementing the cuts and finding “efficiency savings” and the last thing they’re going to do is the right thing, which is resign en masse.

  3. “Of course: the middle managers are tasked with implementing the cuts and finding “efficiency savings” and the last thing they’re going to do is the right thing, which is resign en masse.”

    I have seen it once. Someone in a bank was tasked with finding efficiencies, the process concluded with them sending a mass email that their job was pointless so they were leaving.

  4. This is why charities (excluding all the fakes) are part of the free market, why they often do better work than the state. People hand over their money freely, because they want something done, and if they see their money can be better used elsewhere, they stop handing over money.

    Like, I’m not a Christian, but I give a good donation to the Salvation Army each Xmas. Part of that is about marketing. Their logo hasn’t changed in 50 years and their website is functional, but not slick. This comes from my experience in work. If you’re Levis or Pepsi, you need a slick website, but most organisations don’t, and the end results don’t justify it. Most visitors don’t care if your anti-aliasing or kerning is out. They just want to know things like where your office is and what you do.

  5. That’s interesting since the RNLI accounts for 2018 have not yet been loaded onto the Charities Commission website. They usually become available some time in September of the following year. It seems like a pre-emptive PR campaign to excuse some dire mistakes

  6. The goal is, of course, to get the government funding the vast majority of the operation. That would enable them to move into more useful fields like climate change and LGBT issues. That’s the future for the RNLI.

  7. You have a ruling class, sitting in plush air conditioned offices pushing progressive agendas and advancing their careers

    So what does that make people sitting in plush offices commenting on conservative blogs at the expense of their careers? A troll feeding off a parasite perhaps?

  8. Why is this a charity?

    Shouldn’t it be funded by:

    1) insurance taken out by people who understand they may be in need of the organisation’s services, such that the provision of said services can be correctly priced in to the economic or leisure activity they are indulging in.
    2) invoices to those rescued but not covered by (1).

  9. “Why is this a charity?

    Shouldn’t it be funded by:

    1) insurance taken out by people who understand they may be in need of the organisation’s services, such that the provision of said services can be correctly priced in to the economic or leisure activity they are indulging in.
    2) invoices to those rescued but not covered by (1).”

    I agree entirely. You can fund the NHS by the same principle while you’re at it too………………….

  10. It’s a charity because that’s how things were done when the need for such a thing was recognised and it was set up. It wasn’t broke and there was no need to fix it; and they actively refused Government money.

    Now that they’ve gone woke and broken it, they’ll probably go begging for Government funding. For the chiiiiiildren.

  11. “It’s a charity because that’s how things were done when the need for such a thing was recognised and it was set up. It wasn’t broke and there was no need to fix it; and they actively refused Government money.“

    And if that happens crews will demand payment as well and then we’re in to a whole new game.

    I don’t think it will happen, in most places it’s still seafarers looking out for fellow seafarers. They do go out to leisure sailors who aren’t in distress but need help after requests for help haven’t worked.

    What may happen is that more places go independent and the RNLI comes under pressure from the Charity Commission to disburse it’s funds.

  12. BiG, RNLI help all sailors in distress, fishermen, yachties, merchant seamen etc. Why hasn’t the EU, the greatest ever thing, come up with a service to help sailors in distress? Remember that Italian cruise liner that went aground off the wonderful EU coast of Italy where the captain was the first person in the lifeboats, leaving the passengers to fend for themselves?

    RNLI is part of a tradition of mutual help that has been wiped out by things such as socialism and the EU

  13. Pournelles Iron Law of bureaucracy strikes again.

    Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people:

    First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

    Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

    The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

    When the original story broke (and don’t forget the same shenanigans occurred in the Jersey RNLI station too) I e-mailed the RNLI stating that, as I am a widower and childless, I had made out a will leaving a good chunk of my estate to the RNLI but would immediately change it to their dis-benefit.

    They e-mailed back to say “We will record this as a complaint”.

    So that was me told off, then …

  14. Phil B, I haven’t yet written a will but always intended to include the RNLI. Whenever visiting the seaside I would make a beeline to the Lifeboat Station to pour all of my carefully accumulated cash into their collection box. No more. If you and I are typical of their donors then they are f***ed. Which means we are all f***ed. Time for a great awakening.

  15. Graeme, seeing as you can’t read, let me spell it out again. i’m not advocating socialism or government funding, I’m advocating that services be paid for by those who use them. Which is entirely neoliberal. I have always been bemused by RNLI charity boxes in Derbyshire, a place with no coastline and the last holdout of iodine deficiency in the UK

  16. Jim, yes you could abd probably sbould move NHS funding to an insurance model. More important though is to decouple payment and provision, and allow a bit of competition. That seems to work reasonably well for most countries.

  17. Christian Aid gone same way. Government Lobbying, Global Warming, more right-on cobblers. Now give to Sally Army.

  18. ” I have always been bemused by RNLI charity boxes in Derbyshire, a place with no coastline and the last holdout of iodine deficiency in the UK”

    One assumes that the British history of seafaring is the reason for such on the surface illogical behaviour. Plus being an island meant (and indeed still means) that much of what we need arrives by sea. So the safe passage of sailors would be just as important to a landlocked resident of Derby who had never so much put a toe in the ocean as so grizzled Bristolian seafarer.

    And much of our current national psyche is still dominated by the last war – then the issue of sailors keeping the nation fed and fuelled against the U-boat hordes was a very real one for everyone regardless of where they lived. Such attitudes are still very prevalent in the farming industry as well for example – the whole idea of ‘The farmer feeding the nation’ and doing work of national importance, of being crucial to the nations survival all go back to the UK’s experiences in the 20th century. Farming is a tuppeny h’appeny industry really, it hardly turns a profit once you take out all the subsidies.Yet the industry itself thinks its far more important than it is, and so do everyone else still – hence today Boris trolling off to Scotland offering farmers £200m in extra taxpayers cash. Lots of business sectors are far more crucial to the UK’s economy and employment prospects, yet they never get offered free money by the State. Its all down to those folk memories of 80 years ago that are driving our actions today.

  19. I’ve said this before but the only good place for your money these days is with sound writers like Tim and me. And Delingpole, etc. At the very least, buying their books. We’re the real do-gooders these days.

  20. I’m sure the UK coastguard would LOVE the RNLI to “get woke” and go broke, because they potter about in shitty little boats whereas our US cousins have RN style cruisers at their disposal.

    I doubt the UK Gov will save the RNLI if they are going broke, but maybe they think there is a shortage of fake charities.

    Either way, it’s the death knell for the RNLI as the organisation it was. A quick sacking of the CEO, reinstatement of staff maligned and a widely broadcast apology might have worked, but now it is too late. Shame really.

  21. I suspect part of it is that the demographic that would be most committed to supporting such charities is in decline (and has failed to culturally reproduce itself). I suspect other historic charities are facing this and will do more so in the future.

    Small point: When I was younger there was RNLI charity boxes in fish and chip shops. Last time I checked, the new business occupying that premises does not sell fish and chips, catering to a slightly different group of people. My guess would be any charity boxes are collecting money for a slightly different cause, perhaps a few thousand miles way.

    Increasingly charities will be right-on public campaign groups paid for by the state to tell the government what the latest “issue” to be addressed is.

  22. ” I have always been bemused by RNLI charity boxes in Derbyshire, a place with no coastline and the last holdout of iodine deficiency in the UK”

    One of the reasons I respected the RNLI was that they robustly and passionately refused any money from the Government on the quite correct assumption that he who pays the piper calls the tune. The RNLI was always supported by donations and legacies so that they could operate the way that their crews and members wanted. That is, as volunteers and using local knowledge and manpower resources. Hence people were more than willing to support them because they knew that the money went to “front line services” and not wasted in bureaucracy.

    But, as I pointed out above, they have gone the way of all organisations and lost sight of their original mission and are building bureaucracy instead.

  23. It was only a year or two ago that they actually felt they had too much money to spend on actual coastal lifesaving, and extended their charter to water safety education.

    This provided a stall of nice young and middle-aged ladies with posters that popped up at pretty much any country or seaside show you care to imagine. I don’t think they are really on hard times yet.

    I’m glad the last CEO left. No idea if the new one is any better.

  24. “It was only a year or two ago that they actually felt they had too much money to spend on actual coastal lifesaving, and extended their charter to water safety education.”

    I wondered who was behind that series of radio ads that were explaining how to survive if you fall in the water. I guess running ad campaigns provides a lot more nice safe office jobs for middle class graduates than actually rescuing drowning people does.

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