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Activities that are good in themselves are good for the economy, and activities that are bad in themselves are bad for the economy. The only intelligible meaning of “benefit to the economy” is the contribution – direct or indirect – the activity makes to the welfare of ordinary citizens.
Teachers and doctors strongly resist the introduction of a bonus culture: not just because they resent measurement of performance and accountability for their activities – although they do, and with little justification – but because they oppose importing the culture of assembly lines.
The benefit of road improvements is principally the reduced time and strain on private motorists, not the economic advantages to road transport operators: that lesson should influence the way we plan our road networks. Fast roads for light traffic are much cheaper to build than superhighways.