ISSUE-133

Claim: Governments must ensure that their major cities receive the financial support they need in order to thrive.

Reason: It is primarily in cities that a nation's cultural traditions are preserved and generated.


Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim and the reason on which that claim is based.


To what extent should governments provide financial support to major cities in order for the cities to thrive? Some people argue that it is imperative for governments to ensure the funding because it is mostly in cities that a nation’s cultural traditions are generated and preserved. While I agree that such funding is essential to the economic development of a city, I do not agree with the notion that cultural traditions are born in cities. That being said, it should be acknowledged that cities do preserve cultures that would otherwise perish, but it is not the primary reason for government financial support.


To begin with, the idea that cultural traditions are generated in the cities needs a second look. To understand this, one needs to realize how cultural traditions come into being in the first place. It is the interactions between people that lead to a culture, consisting of norms and a share value. As a result, whenever the number of people has reached a critical mass, cultural traditions shall form spontaneously. While a considerable number of people have become city residents today, in the past when no city existed villages and towns also nurtured cultures. The cultural traditions in the American West were almost exclusively generated by cowboys and farmers, neither of who has ever lived in cities. In this light, it is not hard to comprehend why cities in the modern sense have only emerged in the past a few hundred years or so, while many cultural traditions significantly predate that.


That said, we cannot deny the role of cities in preserving cultures. As I argued earlier, the interactions between people give birth to cultural traditions and, consequently, such traditions shall change as the ways of social interactions evolve. In this process, some traditions will disappear. Let’s still take the cultures of American West as an example. Today mechanical farming has replaced the traditional ways of lie of farmers and cowboys, rendering many aspects of the Western Culture on the verge of perishing. However, the establishment of museums has largely preserved the cultures through exhibitions and educational programs. Apparently today cities are where museums are located and therefore where cultural traditions that would otherwise vanish are preserved.


Despite the problems with the reasoning that cultural traditions are the justification for financial support to major cities, I do believe that such financial support is necessary from two points of view. First, in order for cities to thrive, the infrastructure is often considered to be one of the key aspects. Roads, bridges, ports, and airports connect the city to the outside worlds and facilitate the flow of merchandise and capitals. That is why nearly all mega-cities today, such as New York, London, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Paris, and Tokyo and so on, are located near the shore or near a major river that can support cargo transportation. As governments are usually responsible for the construction and maintenance of the infrastructure, funding is certainly justifiable.


Second, cities need to attract talents in order to thrive and while many factors can influence one’s decision on where to work, the quality of life is a major point of consideration. This includes the quality of air and water, the access to public transportation, and the quality of public service such as schools and hospitals, all of which require government spending to sustain. One needs to look no further than the decline of Detroit, once a bustling metropolis in the United States. With the local economy staggering and a defunct city government, Detroit today is anything but appealing to the younger generation of workers and inventors. Therefore, many have predicted a dire future for what used to be the powerhouse of American economy.


To sum up, while I support government funding for cities to thrive, the reason is not because of cultures being generated here. Instead, my main reason is that in order to develop economy and attract talents, a city must have well-maintained infrastructure and high-quality public service, which, without the financial support of the government, would not exist.

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