Few things wind Middle New Zealand up like dole bludgers. Middle New Zealand's solution is simple and unencumbered by theory or complexity: put them to work.
When a politician agrees with this medicine, Middle New Zealand's heart is gladdened.
This week, the politician was Shane Jones. Middle New Zealand possibly rejoiced harder than usual, because this time the agreeing politician was different.
Normally it's only powerless Opposition MPs who openly suggest putting beneficiaries to work. Jones, though, is a Cabinet Minister. He has the power to actually make this happen.
But bad news, Middle New Zealand: Jones' Work for the Dole idea is going nowhere fast.
And what's more, you're probably going to have your populist hearts broken time and time again over the next three years.
Before I explain why you're in for multiple disappointments, I want to tell you about a puzzle I've been mulling over.
It's a solitary occupation because no one else really wants to bore themselves with this puzzle. In fact, someone told me not to waste my time considering events that are 2 years away.
Still, what has been puzzling me is how on Earth NZ First can avoid being deflated by the iron grip of coalition. Every minor coalition party under MMP has ended up suffocated by its bigger ally.
NZ First has been in Government twice, and suffocated twice.
Then Jones made his pronouncement about Work for the Dole and I puzzled no more.
What normally kills minor coalition parties is the lack of attention they get when they've fallen into step with — and into the shadow of — the bigger party. But Jones got a lot of attention this week. He showed us how to be in Government but act like you're not.
First, declare you're going to fix a problem you don't have the power to fix. Jones may be a Cabinet Minister, but he's not the minister responsible for dole bludgers. He's the minister responsible for Regional Economic Development.
Next, make sure you don't tell the Prime Minister before you do it. That way, she has to try so hard to pretend she has you under control she is forced to sound like she (sort of) supports your idea.
Finally, as soon as you can, start warning Middle New Zealand forces are gathering against your shared goal. The enemy in this case is the Labour Party.
That's why Jones quickly started explaining that Work for the Dole has "not been embraced by the entirety of Cabinet".
Jones will claim a victory at some stage. His stunt has forced the issue to become a priority for Ardern's Government.
Employment Minister Willie Jackson is now expected to work a lot faster on the issue and when something comes of it, Jones can say it was originally his idea but those sissies in Labour watered it down and, ahhh well, you can't always get what you want.
That explains why Middle New Zealand will be teased with ideas that go nowhere.
If NZ First can keep this up for the next 2 years, Middle New Zealand may actually believe the story that Winston's mob are the only sensible ones in power, struggling to fix the problems of the country with commonsense solutions that worked in 1930 so will certainly work in 2017, dammit.
So which going-nowhere ideas will NZ First MPs float next?
Heck, which is the most populist?
Hard labour for serious white collar criminals?
Forcing refugees to sign a document accepting New Zealand values?
Allowing parents to smack their kids again?
Any are possible. All of them are or have been NZ First policies.