A little bit about Les Miserables. Spoiler alert: there are no Winz offices in Les Mis. Jean Valjean broke the law when he stole a loaf of bread. Then he lied about his identity, and his criminal convictions, to gain financial advantage and public office. Fantine, the solo mother of Cosette, (at a time before the DPB) is a sex worker. Lie, upon lie, upon crime.

Robin Hood dates from the 14th century. Even then, he'd have sold more action figures than the Sheriff of Nottingham. We have a long history of sympathy against cruel power, against the letter of the law, and indeed, against the system that protects princes from paupers.

Having said that, it's not the most obvious political tactic, to confess to fraud. Fraud is illegal, it is dishonest. Like, that's what the word means.

And for a politician, an umprompted fraud confession sure looks like an own goal.


Or - is it a brilliant strategy?

Or - to replay the footage from another angle - is it even more brilliant, for not being a strategy at all? Aha!

Just how many levels of chess is Metiria Turei playing? Is she Picasso, inventing a new style, that will be mocked til everyone else joins in? How do we even keep up with what works politically these days? The fallout seems to be along party lines, and even then, not entirely. Absolutely nobody has called for her to resign. The harshest cry is that she pay it back. Can you imagine if this happened in America? The chorus would be yelling: Lock her up!

Then again, whoever launches the biggest stone, has to be careful not to have something more breakable in their closet.

And maybe this is what she knows. Maybe she's waiting for the serve to come back. And maybe her real weapon is the volley.

Look, it was the 90s. Lance Armstrong was winning bike races.

Winz wasn't lied to, as such. They simply asked questions with obviously correct answers and obviously incorrect answers. When you check into a flight, those questions with pictures of explosives, aren't about your luggage: they're about your IQ. And when Winz asks you a question, the last thing you'd want to say is: um, it's complicated.

Look at it this way. In the 90s, Metiria Turei took out an honesty mortgage. And now, in 2017, she's decided to pay it off. And because it's been years, with compound interest, it requires much more honesty to pay it off.


But we're in 2017, going on 2018. There's a difference between being an admitted fraudster, and being a fraud. Kids these days are into brand authenticity. (Though that term would be met with an emoji of disgust.)

Today, celebrities only become more popular after their meltdown, their rehab, or release from prison. Faults are fortes. Anyone who's untroubled is obviously not looking hard enough.

It can't be long before an athlete will need a major drug problem before they can advertise cereal. The faces of M&Ms will sport tiny tattoos, inked in prison, and they will not want for employment. The Greens are the party that admitted to smoking weed when it was still something to be hypocritical about.

In contrast to Paula Bennett, who's often accused of pulling the ladder up after her, Metiria Turei is declaring the ladder she used - and abused - will be made broader and more accommodating. Her party is adding banisters to the ladder.

Can we afford it? Is there a better way? Well, those are economic questions. And economics, as far as I can tell, is in the eye of the beholder.

Gareth Morgan, economist, reckons it makes sense to just give young people $200 a year. Okay, fine. It sounds to me like NCEA with dollars, where attendance in life gets you a pass. But if everyone gets $200, doesn't that mean $200 isn't worth anything? Or is he saying that $200, given to those people at that stage of life, gives all of society a net reward in the long run? (Beats me.)

It encourages me that her confession hasn't ruled her out of politics. As America reminds us, power looks after power. The henhouse is guarded by the Fox News. Huge, systemic, big-dollar scandals are too complex to light up talk radio. Economics is written by the winners.

Metiria Turei's courageous confession says this. The playing ground has never been level. If you haven't had to lie to The Man, perhaps you were lucky enough that an ancestor did the lying for you.