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William Watson: Montreal tests the value of infrastructure—the hard way

The Ottawa-based Public Policy Forum was holding a policy discussion today in Montreal on the topic “Shovel Worthy? Doing Infrastructure Smarter.” The term “shovel worthy” is an interesting and useful twist on the usual “shovel ready,” used to describe projects governments want to bring online (to mix the metaphor) whenever the economy runs into strong macroeconomic headwinds (mixing it again).To begin with, “shovel” itself is inappropriate. We hope nobody’s literally using shovels these days. As we discussed in my history of economic thought class the other day, one reason the early classical economists all go on about the prohibitive cost

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