COMMENT:

Despite the fact it's being called the first "Wellbeing Budget," the demands and hopes are pretty much the same as they have always been - which is why branding a Budget is folly.

It's a marketing exercise that, as far as I can work out, no one has fallen for.

People have, what they perceive, to be a plight that needs addressing and they want the government to help to address it. It's the same whether the Budget was delivered in 1956 or 2019. If you give a person a state-funded house is their 'wellbeing' enhanced? Of course it is.

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So today will be no different. There will be the traditional winners and losers, there will be an emphasis on certain areas, there will be those that get something but not enough, there will be re-announcements of what we already know, there will be smoke and mirrors around money and over what period it is spread out over - and there will be the usual back and forward as to whether it was worth the noise or not.

One thing I always look for - and no amount of spin about wellbeing changes it - is how much of other people's money is being used to prop up the lot of others. In other words how many New Zealanders are beholden to the state.

Here's your truth: it is an increasing and alarmingly large number.

By the time you take all the benefits, social programmes, assistance packages from the SuperGold Card, to superannuation, to the Jobseeker Support benefit, to housing, to family support, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of us are reliant on the state.

And that is nothing to be proud of - and it's certainly nothing to aspire to - but it's sadly how a Budget is sold. Getting money from the government on Budget day is not a measure of success or self reliance: in many circumstances it's the exact opposite.

The other thing that, at the end of the day, beats all else are the numbers. Put as much kumbaya, flowery BS around it as you want, but the growth targets, the debt targets, the surplus numbers, the income, and revenue are all that really matters.

Because without those, you have nothing. Without economic prosperity, no bills get paid, no help gets dispensed, no growth occurs, no wealth accumulates, no options are available to you.

And here is my suspicion: the numbers won't look good. And part of the hype around "wellbeing" is to distract you from the simple truth that the economy is in worse shape than they have led us to believe. And it's only through the Budget the truth is revealed.

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This Government is good at handing out hugs, hype, and headlines. Today is a day of fiscal reckoning - wellbeing isn't a currency, it's not bankable.

So forget the waffle - what do the numbers say?