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The Following Is A Letter To The Editor Of The Waymarsh Times. - With A Free Essay Review
ĎThe following is a letter to the editor of the Waymarsh Times. "Traffic here in Waymarsh is becoming a problem. Although just three years ago a state traffic survey showed that the typical driving commuter took 20 minutes to get to work, the commute now takes closer to 40 minutes, according to the survey just completed. Members of the town council already have suggested more road building to address the problem, but as well as being expensive, the new construction will surely disrupt some of our residential neighborhoods. It would be better to follow the example of the nearby city of Garville. Last year Garville implemented a policy that rewards people who share rides to work, giving them coupons for free gas. Pollution levels in Garville have dropped since the policy was implemented, and people from Garville tell me that commuting times have fallen considerably. There is no reason why a policy like Garville's shouldn't work equally well in Waymarsh." Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.í
First of all, the author mentions that traffic in Waymarsh is becoming a problem, since the typical commuter took 40 minutes to get to work compared to 20 minutes three years ago. To test the veracity of this claim, we need evidence about the relative distance of a typical commuter needs to commute now, and compare the distance to that of three years ago. It is possible since more and more people start to drive, the city has expanded, and people tend to live farther away from their work places. If the evidence shows that the typical distance for people to go to work is much longer than it was three years ago, then people spending more times in their cars is not because of the heavy traffic; instead it is because they need to travel longer distances to work; in that case, the authorís claim would be weakened. Whereas, if the evidence shows that people still leave close to work nowadays, then, it might because the traffic is heavier now, and the authorís claim would be strengthened.
Moreover, the author suggests that Waymarsh should encourage people car pooling because the pollution levels have dropped since the policy was implemented. In order to verify this claim, we need evidence about what kinds of pollution have been improved, and whether Garville has also implemented another policy that could possibly contribute to less pollution. It is not specified in the argument what kinds of pollution have dropped; thus, if the evidence shows that the water pollution was improved, which is not related to cars at all, then the pollution levels in Garville might not have dropped due to implementing the new policy, and the authorís argument would be weakened. Even if the evidence shows that the air pollution has been improved, then, we would need evidence about whether Garville implemented other policies that can potentially contribute to improving air pollution at the same time. If it is clear the Garville has not done anything that can contribute to improving air pollution except the carpooling policy, and we can rule out any other possibilities, then it is likely that the new policy might help reduce the air pollution level, and the authorís argument would be strengthened.
Finally, the author also mentions that people reported that their commuting times have fallen due to the new policy. To test the veracity of the claim, we need evidence about whether people reporting that their commuting times have fallen is due to less heavy traffic or other reasons; in other words, do they still go to work at the same time as they did before. If the evidence shows that considering there are more people going to work at the same time, and people tend to leave to work earlier than they did before, then it would be possible that it takes less time now is because people tend to go to work earlier and avoid the rush hour, and the authorís argument would be weakened.
To sum up, in order to evaluate the argument, we need evidence about the distance people commute now and compare that to the distance three years ago, and did Garville implemented other policies that can contribute to improving pollution levels or not, and do people leave for work at the same time as they did before.
The penultimate sentence of the first paragraph has problems similar to those discussed in my response to your last essay (the Rialto essay); I've made a few minor corrections here to give you another example of how to deal with those problems. Note especially the addition of semi-colons to avoid comma splices; you could use periods there instead, and so break the sentence up into shorter sentences, which is the strategy that I earlier advised.
Your first argument is reasonable (itís well-spotted, in fact) but note that there could have been an increase both in commuting distance and in traffic congestion (and there probably would be an increase in congestion in the scenario that you imagine).
The second and third arguments are reasonable, but laborious. If one began with the general question "Are there other possible causes of the decline in pollution and commuter travel time?" then I could imagine one dealing with these issues in relatively short order. Again, articulating a general question like that will mean it is less important if you miss out on identifying a specific bit of evidence that might explain happenings in the strange town of Garville (where, possibly, half of the population or car drivers died off in a freak accident at the nuclear power plant).
Finally, since the Waymarshans are interested in avoiding the cost of building roads, evidence about the cost of the coupon program would also be relevant.