October 24, 2015

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The British Save the Children Fund is not really a charity at all, as many similar charities are not: It is a department of state, or at least of the politico-bureaucratic class. Last year, for example, it received nearly two-thirds of its income from governmental or quasi-governmental sources. The British government and the European Union were by far its largest donors. Without such funding it would cease to exist, certainly on its present scale. There would not, for example, be more than 880 employees at its headquarters.

The wages bill of those employed by the Fund plus the costs of raising voluntary (privately donated) funds was equal to just over 84 percent of those latter funds; raising the funds alone cost just short of 29 percent of the funds raised. By the standards of ordinary commercial companies, perhaps, the wage structure was not particularly regressive: The average salary was about £27,000, while the two most highly paid received just less than £140,000. But one should not judge charities by the standards of commercial companies, unless charity is regarded as just another branch of commerce.

Without government funding, Save the Children would have had just £17 million over and above its wage and fund-raising costs. Its brochure says that it raised a record £370 million last year, without mentioning that £228 million came from government sources of various kinds. I think the above figures make clear that employees of the charity are essentially publicly funded bureaucrats.

It would have been more honest, then, if Cumberbatch had come forward to appeal for the Save the Aid Workers Fund, or alternatively to ask for voluntary contributions to the government’s efforts to keep unemployment down by means of pseudo-Keynesian policies.

Perhaps the connection between the incontinently emotional production of Hamlet and the subsequent oleaginous appeal by Hamlet for contributions to a disingenuous charity is tenuous, but one cannot help thinking that it is there nonetheless.


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