So the stimulus — the so-called American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 or ARRA — is starting to wind down. What are the results?

The debate over whether stimulus worked or didn’t is too abstract to be of much help. It’s a better use of time to look at some specific stimulus programs and projects and see how they did.

Take stimulus funds for broadband. President Obama campaigned on expanding access to broadband Internet, and the stimulus afforded him an occasion for doling out federal dollars to that end.

Take the Montana project. The area is not in any meaningful sense unserved or even underserved. As many as seven broadband providers, including wireless, operate in the area. Only 1.5% of all households in the region had no wireline access. And if you include 3G wireless, there were only seven households in the Montana region that could be considered without access. So the cost of extending access in the Montana case comes to about $7 million for each additional household served.

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