The RNLI are in action here in the UK trying to sort out a mess on the South Coast. RNLI stands for Royal National Lifeboat Association. And here’s the kicker; it’s completely private, in ownership, operation, and even funding! So, something as mind-bogglingly vital to survival in emergencies as sea-borne rescue is undertaken almost exclusively by a private, voluntarily funded charity. Yeah, it already exists, and has received no government money or orders whatsoever since World War Two. This is in marked contrast to the fire and ambulance services, who are entirely government owned and funded.

The rescuers in the video are trying to get the crew off a stricken vessel off the south coast of the UK just North of the Isle of Wight. This is a treacherous stretch of snarling tidal currents and sand banks. It was a sand bank that did for the Hoegh Osaka as its crew deliberately ran it aground due to a problem whereby the ship was listing dangerously. It seems the crew demonstrated profound good sense and conduct, and now thanks to the men of the RNLI all 25 crew are safely on land.

I remember visiting the RNLI station in a town near where I live as a child and talking to the lifeguards, playing on the rescue equipment, and putting some coins in the donations box. The organisation has always been efficiently run, constantly trying to make its pennies go farther as the public’s donations wax and wane. This British institution has not been widely or loudly celebrated, possibly because government can’t take credit for it, but remains there, in the background, providing the equipment and the training to save those in distress at sea and on the coastline. And what of the lifeguards themselves, volunteers to a man, risking their lives every time they put to sea. To date, 600+ volunteers have died in the act of saving lives at sea, while 140,000 people have been saved from death since the institution’s founding in 1824.

So, a private alternative exists. Wherever viable private alternatives exist they must be feted constantly so that a general awareness of the usefulness of free association sets in people’s minds. This will have the effect of starving the state of revenue and thus power over time, as it becomes more and more irrelevant in daily life. It’s becoming more and more evident to us in the liberty movement that we can find ways out of a lot of the statist quo without having to do anything aggressive ourselves – and so much the better – but the real coup will be when people, without ever having heard of libertarianism, start swapping to these cheaper, more efficient and more timely alternatives to the bloated and nasty state services.