ARG-051

The following recommendation appeared in a memo from the mayor of the town of Hopewell.

"Two years ago, the nearby town of Ocean View built a new municipal golf course and resort hotel. During the past two years, tourism in Ocean View has increased, new businesses have opened there, and Ocean View's tax revenues have risen by 30 percent. Therefore, the best way to improve Hopewell's economy—and generate additional tax revenues—is to build a golf course and resort hotel similar to those in Ocean View."


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 these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.


In this memo, the author argues that Hopewell (H) should follow the lead of Ocean View (OV) and stimulate its economy by building a golf course and resort hotel to raise taxes. Although the author’s argument is somewhat plausible, his conclusion relies on some assumptions that, if proven wrong, severely undermine the author’s conclusion.


First, the author assumes that OV’s construction of a new municipal golf course and resort hotel is the only factor contributing to its rise in tourism. But this assumption is problematic. This is because OV’s rise in tourism is due to other factors, such as environmental control, the country’s overall economic situation getting better, OV’s traffic system being more developed, etc. If any of these happen, the author’s assumption will be weakened, and thus the conclusion will be challenged.


Secondly, even if the development of tourism in OV is due to the construction of the golf course and resort hotel, the author’s conclusion would still be weakened by another dubious assumption, namely that the towns of OV and H are analogous in terms of industrial structure. But this assumption is untenable. For example, OV is a tourist town with inadequate amenities, and it would certainly attract tourists by building a golf course and resort hotel; however, H is an inland industrial town with serious pollution problems, and would not be visited by tourists. If this were true, the author’s conclusion would be challenged.


Third, even if the above assumptions hold true, the author’s conclusion depends on the validity of another assumption: that the growth of tourism is decisive for H’s economic growth. However, this assumption is also untenable. By improving H’s tourism industry alone, it may not fundamentally enhance its overall economic development. For example, the local tourism industry accounts for a very small share of the economy. Even if a golf course and resort hotel were built like the OV, its contribution to economic growth would be very limited. In addition, the author assumes that the construction of a golf course and resort hotel in H will increase tax revenue. Again, this assumption does not stand up to scrutiny. If there is an indication that the economy is on a downward trend and a lot of shops are closing down, then even if the golf course and resort hotel is built, it will not be able to compensate for the loss of tax revenue caused by the closure of shops. Similarly, if H raises tax rates significantly to increase tax revenue, this will also lead to a series of store closures, which will lead to an economic downturn. If this were to be the case, the author’s assumption would be untenable, and thus the author’s conclusion would be challenged.


Finally, even if tourism in H plays a pivotal role in its overall economy, the author’s conclusion may still be untenable because of another dubious assumption, that building a golf course and resort hotels is necessary. However, improving H’s local tourism may be possible in other more viable ways, such as improving the environment, lowering taxes, and attracting investment. If these alternatives go beyond the author’s proposal, then the author’s conclusion will be challenged.


In conclusion, the author’s argument relies heavily on the assumptions mentioned above, which, if proven wrong, would severely weaken the author’s conclusion.


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