Another bit from the old files, this a Wellington, New Zealand, newspaper article, from the Evening Post, dated March 14, 1962. The files have an itinerary for V. G. Peterson, starting with 2 days in Honolulu, continuting to 14 days in Wellington, 11 in Melbourne, 14 in Sydney, 2 in Singapore, 3 in Bangkok, 1 in Bombay, 5 in New Delhi, 5 in Caiiro, 6 in Athens, 2 each in Madrid and Barcelona, and 4 in Worcestershire, England. Quite a trip!
American 'Townie' of Walter Nash
One of the highlights of her present visit to Wellington has been, for Mrs. V. G. Peterson, of New York, meeting the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Nash), whose birthplace, Habberly Valley, Kidderminster, was also Mrs. Peterson's home.
"When Mr. Nash visited his birthplace some years ago, he was made a freeman of Kidderminster," recalled Mrs. Peterson. "The town regards him as one of its most illustrious people and is very proud of him."
Another interest that Mrs. Peterson shares with Mr. Nash is finance. Since graduating from Columbia University, New York, where her father immigrated from England, Mrs. Peterson has enjoyed an interestingly responsible career as an administrator, and has been concerned to a high degree both with fund-raising and land taxation as the executive secretary of the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.
Mrs. Peterson is interested particularly in the land taxation problem as put forward by Henry George, the Single Taxer, American economist and philosopher, who died in 1897. He wrote several books on the subject which the Schalkenbach Foundation keeps in print and which are of particular interest in academic studies and seminars.
Henry George believed that land, being the basis of all wealth, should be made available for the best and highest use, to any person who wished to use it. He believed that if land values were taxed it would be impracticable for any person to hold more land than he could profitably use and therefore land would be made more easily available for the use of all people.
In Australia and New Zealand taxes are paid on the value of the land and not, as in America, on the improved value.
Mrs. Peterson said that this had the effect of having more and better buildings and the absence of slums. "I have not seen any slums such as the larger American cities know, since I have been in New Zealand," she said.
One purpose of Mrs. Peterson's visit is to arrange for an academic study of how this method of taxation has worked out in the Dominion.
So far, she says, she has not had much success in this objective as inadequate teaching staffs make it difficult for any other programmes outside of the usual university studies. Such a survey, Mrs. Peterson said, would be of great value to the American economy.
"In America today there is an awakening interest in land value taxation," she said, and the question is asked, why, with such vast areas, private enterprise cannot get land it can pay for, for housing purposes. As a result the Government has recommended subsidising housing.
N. Z. independence
"I am greatly impressed with New Zealand. Just how healthy everybody looks and the sense of independence evident among the people has taken me by surprise," Mrs Peterson said. She has also been tremendously impressed with the fact that tipping is not a custom here and with the reply of a porter in another city when unthinkingly offered a tip -- "We earn a living wage here. We do not have to take tips."
Mrs. Peterson will address strong groups of Henry George followers in Melbourne and Sydney after leaving New Zealand on Saturday.