GRE Argument Essay 149

The following appeared in a memo from a budget planner for the City of Grandview.

“To avoid a budget deficit next year, the City of Grandview must eliminate its funding for the Grandview Symphony. Our citizens are well aware of the fact that while the Grandview Symphony Orchestra was struggling to succeed, our city government promised annual funding to help support its programs. Last year, however, private contributions to the Symphony increased by 200 percent, and attendance at the Symphony’s concerts-in-the-park series doubled. The Symphony has also announced an increase in ticket prices for next year. Such developments indicate that the Symphony can now succeed without funding from city government and we can eliminate that expense from next year’s budget. This action will surely prevent a budget deficit.”

The budget planner for the city of Grandview argues that the government should eliminate its funding for the Grandview Symphony Orchestra in order to evade a budget deficit in the coming year. He supports the argument by citing three facts. The first is that the private contributions to Symphony have increased by 200 percent in the past year. The second fact is that the attendance in the Symphony’s concerts-in-the-park series had doubled in the past year. The last fact presented by the arguer in support of his recommendation is that Symphony has announced an increase in the ticket prices for next year. The arguer utilizes these three facts to conclude that Symphony does not require funding from the government for its success and therefore, the arguer recommends that the government can stop funding Symphony for avoiding a budget deficit in the coming year. A close scrutiny of the argument reveals that the facts presented do little towards supporting the recommendation made.

The first fact presented by the arguer is largely unsubstantiated as it fails to prove that Symphony is now enjoying unquestionable success. The increase in the private contributions in the past year may be for a variety of reasons which may not occur again in the coming future. There may have been some celebrities or prominent figures that were approached by Symphony for donations and these people might have made some contributions to help Symphony establish itself. There is no guarantee that such private contributions will be made in the future also. Moreover, it is likely that the funding being done by the government is encouraging people to make private contributions in order to assist Symphony in achieving success. Therefore, it is likely that once the government withdraws its financial support, the private contributions also stop as the people will get the indication that Symphony has achieved the desired level of success.

Even if we assume that the private contributions will continue after the government withdraws its support, it is not necessary that the contributions being made will be sufficient for Symphony to sustain itself. Furthermore, the arguer does not mention the amount that has been contributed and the difference that it would make to the functioning and success of Symphony. It is likely that the private contributions being made were negligible in the past and the increase by 200 percent in the past year makes little or no difference to the financial support needed by Symphony for its success. Therefore, the first fact provided by the arguer does nothing to substantiate the recommendation made by the arguer.

The second fact is related to the attendance for Symphony’s concerts-in-the-park series. It is likely that this series was conducted in a festive season or was conducted in conjunction with some other popular artists. It is likely that there were some celebrities who were attending or performing in these series and that might explain the increase in attendance. There is no mention of the duration of this series of concerts. It is likely that this series is conducted once in a year and so a high attendance in these concerts may not be able to make a significant difference to the total income earned by Symphony.

The third fact counters the recommendation made, rather than supporting it. If Symphony is planning to increase its ticket prices, then it indicates that Symphony has not been able to sustain itself at the present ticket prices. There is no information pertaining to how the people may react to the increase in ticket prices. If there is a dip in the sale of tickets due to the hike in prices, then the overall effect will be that Symphony will not be able to muster enough financial support for achieving success especially if the government also withdraws its funding.

Even if we assume that the government should withdraw its funding as Symphony is now successful enough, there is no information related to the difference it would make to the budget. It is likely that the amount being provided by the government to Symphony is insignificant when compared with the funds allocated to the city as its annual budget. Therefore, stopping the funding of Symphony may not have the desired effect on the budget deficit. Hence, lack of sufficient evidence has rendered the given argument indefensible in several respects.