Page:Picturesque New Zealand, 1913.djvu/45

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17
THE COUNTRY'S WEALTH

exclusive of the incomes of wage-earners, amounting, Sir Joseph estimated, to $230,000,000 annually, and excluding the incomes from salaries and professions, totaling about $20,000,000 yearly. On a population basis of 1,060,000, this, exclusive of the incomes named, gives a combined private and public wealth of $3065 per capita.

To what does New Zealand owe its prosperity? Why is its estimated per capita wealth greater than that of the United States, considering that, little more than twenty years ago, within its borders tramping "sundowners" were met on every road, and industrial conditions were so bad that empty, neglected houses with broken windows and unkempt lawns were common?

The answer is, that New Zealand has burdened itself with an enormous national debt. Borrowed money is the prime cause of its prosperity.[1] And as one result of its borrowings there has developed a condition in which, it has been estimated, about every eighth person is dependent on the Government for a living, either as a State employee or as a dependent of such.

In 1912, the net general indebtedness of New Zealand approximated $395 per European head. In the twenty-two-year period of 1891-1913, its net national indebtedness increased one hundred and twenty per cent, or fifty-six per cent more than its increase of European population in the same time.

  1. While this is fundamentally true, it is equally true that the Dominion's present good fortune would have been unattainable without the accompanying land reforms.