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Please help a girl out and grade her GRE Argument essay


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In surveys Mason City residents rank water sports (swimming, boating and fishing) among their favorite recreational activities. The Mason River flowing through the city is rarely used for these pursuits, however, and the city park department devotes little of its budget to maintaining riverside recreational facilities. For years there have been complaints from residents about the quality of the river's water and the river's smell. In response, the state has recently announced plans to clean up Mason River. Use of the river for water sports is therefore sure to increase. The city government should for that reason devote more money in this year's budget to riverside recreational facilities.

Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on the assumptions and what the implications are if the assumptions prove unwarranted.

My response:

Although it may hold true that the Mason City government should devote more of its budget toward maintaining riverside recreational facilities, the author of this passage does not present a cohesive argument in favor of this notion. Even though Mason City residents seem to enjoy water sports like swimming, boating, and fishing on paper, it cannot be concluded that cleaning up the river will undoubtedly lead to increased usage of the river--there are many factors to be considered.

At a first glance, it is logical to conclude that because Mason City residents seem to enjoy water sports, all that is needed to prompt them to grab their swimsuits and head to the river is a noticeable improvement in the water quality and smell of the river, and that it is for this reason that the government should spend more on maintaining riverside recreational facilities. However, upon closer inspection, it seems that this argument relies on a correlation rather than a causation. It may be true that Mason City residents enjoy water sports, but this in no way guarantees that residents will be prompted to use the river even if the river is cleaned up. Mason City could, for example, be located in a climate or geographical area that does not favor water sports. The river could be exceptionally cold, or the city could be located in a part of the country that has very few sunny or warm days; this would deter the residents from engaging in recreational activities in the river even if the water were dazzlingly clean. Similarly, the river could be rocky, dangerous, or full of rapids, further deterring the residents of the city from using the river for recreational activities. Simply stated, the fact that the residents respond favorably to water sports in a survey implies correlation rather than causation; it does not guarantee that cleaning up the river will lead to a marked increase in the usage of the river or of riverside recreational facilities. 

Along a similar line of reasoning, the argument is inherently flawed because it does not fully guarantee that the proposed timeline for increasing the money spent on maintaining recreational facilities will coincide with the separate plan to clean up the river. The argument only states that the government has recently released plans to improve the quality of the river water; it does not guarantee that this will be accomplished in the same fiscal year as the plan to reallocate more funds to maintaining riverside recreational facilities. The argument, therefore, relies on the assumption that the river will be fully cleaned this year, the same year that the money is spent on maintaining recreational facilities. However, there is no proof that this will happen. It can thusly not be concluded that residents will have any more reason to use the river, even if more money is spent on facilities, because the plan to clean up the river may or may not come to fruition this year. 

Lastly, the argument is flawed because it relies upon the assumption that the poor quality of the river water is completely fixable—however, this may or may not be true. It is entirely possible, for example, that Mason River is the receptacle for waste flow from a nearby industrial area separate from Mason Cty, and that cleaning up the river is entirely outside the local government’s control. This would preclude the Mason City government from cleaning up the river at all, which would do nothing to quell the residents’ concerns about the appearance and smell of the river. Increasing spending on riverside facilities, then, would be unwise, as there would be no guarantee that use of the river would increase. 

Upon first glance, the author of the argument presents a case that loosely suggests that the Mason City government should increase spending on maintaining riverside recreational facilities because it can assume the river will be cleaned and use of the river will increase. However, upon closer examination, it quickly becomes clear that the argument is inherently flawed. Cleaning up the river in no way guarantees use of the river will increase, as Mason City could be located in a region which precludes use of any river for waterspouts altogether.  The argument does not address the concern that the plan to clean up the river will come to fruition in the same fiscal year as the plan to increase spending on facilities. Finally, the argument fails to take into consideration the possibility that the quality of the river is beyond the control of the local government. For these reasons, the argument is inherently invalid and should be readdressed and made to consider these issues. 


Thank you in advance! :)

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