The common thread in announcements from opposition parties, and media reporting on them, this week has been the high WIIFM factor – what’s-in-it-for-me.

Of course policies from all parties are almost always aimed to woo voters and the media finds the people who will benefit, or politically partisan, to comment with very little in-depth analysis.

(There is good analysis in the likes of Politik and the paid content in the NBR but most people don’t get beyond the paywall).

Good policy, and reporting, would look beyond WIIFM to WIIFNZ – what’s-in-it-for-New Zealand.

They would take into account not only at who gets what, but the cost – in the short and long terms – and who pays.

When Bill English became Finance Minister he asked ministries to take an actuarial approach to spending with the aim of getting value for money and reducing costs in the long term, even if that meant spending more in the short term.

That is already paying dividends in the reduction in the number of beneficiaries.

That’s good not just for the individuals who have moved from benefit dependence to paid work, it’s good for the country.

Contrast that with opposition policies which will encourage people to stay on benefits which is bad for them and bad for the country.

WIIFM is a shallow approach which encourages selfishness.

WIIFNZ is a more thoughtful approach. It would encourage people to look beyond the short-term and selfish to the longer term and wider benefits not just for themselves but the country.

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