QUESTION TEXT: Pundit: Our city made a mistake when it sold…
QUESTION TYPE: Necessary Assumption
CONCLUSION: The city could have earned extra money by raising parking fees, if it hadn’t sold the rights to the fees.
REASONING: The city sold parking fee rights to a private company. The company raised rates and is earning more money.
ANALYSIS: The pundit’s argument makes a false equivalence between the city and the private company. There are differences between a company and a local government. It’s possible that the city would not have been able to raise fees.
- Maybe the company is more competent.
- Maybe the city would face public pressure if it raised fees.
- Maybe the city leaders would have been too reluctant to raise fees.
Etc. There are always alternate possibilities, and the pundit failed to establish that the city could have successfully raised rates.
- The pundit is talking about what would happen if the city didn’t sell the rights to a private company. So it doesn’t matter if any other companies are available – the city isn’t selling!
- CORRECT. If the city couldn’t have raised fees, then the pundit is wrong to say the city could have earned more money.
Negation: The city couldn’t have raised rates, had they kept the rights to them.
- This tells us what the city should do. But the argument is about what the city could do. Those aren’t the same thing.
- It doesn’t matter what factors the city needs to consider in setting rates. This argument is about a yes or no question: could the city have raised rates, or not?
- This weakens the argument if true. It provides a reason the city couldn’t earn as much money as the private company did.
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