Essays by Jason Zhan
Velazquez’s campaign statementJuly 24th, 2017
In Velazquez's campaign statement, he is advocating jailing people for petty crimes in Barchester on the basis that the city of Spartanburg implemented this policy and saw a 20% drop in violent crimes in the following years. This argument may look reasonable at first glance, but upon further examination, the argument contains severe logical flaws that casts severe doubt on the validity of its conclusion.
To Music or NotJuly 24th, 2017
In the music department chair’s memo to the president of Omega University, he is recommending the university to expand the music-therapy degree program by increasing its enrollment targets. The basis for his argument is that mental health experts have observed less severe symptoms in patients after group music therapy sessions and that job openings in the music therapy field have increased in the past year. While these two factors look appealing at first glance, upon further examination, the argument contains severe logical flaws and casts severe doubt on the validity of his conclusion.
HR DilemmaJuly 24th, 2017
The HR Director’s memo to the executive officers of the company states that communication between employees and management, one of the important issues that has consistently ranked on top of a list of possible improvements based on employee surveys, has been resolved. The memo claims that after the survey was conducted, the company has since then established regular communication sessions led by high-level management in which employees can freely attend and therefore the most important issue that needs to be addressed has been resolved. At first glance, this argument may seem reasonable. However, upon further examination, it contains severe logic flaws that casts major doubt on the validity of the conclusion.
Cost reductionJuly 24th, 2017
In Olympic Food’s annual report that was sent to the stockholders, management asserts that the company can expect to minimize its costs and maximize profits as its twenty-fifth anniversary approaches on the basis that with time, the costs of processing decreases because an organization will become more efficient. The report cites the cost of color film processing that dropped from 50 cents in 1970 to 20 cents in 1984 as an example to support its argument. At first glance, this argument may seem reasonable. But upon further examination, the argument contains severe logical flaws that casts severe doubt on the validity of its conclusion. First of all, the company readily assumes that the cost reduction witnessed in the film processing industry will be replicated in the food processing industry. However, this is a logical fallacy as the company is comparing apples to oranges. The film processing industry and the food processing industry are vastly different in nature provides very different product and services. Technological improvements that will reduce the cost of film processing will most likely have zero impact on the food processing industry. For example, as technology improves and printers become much cheaper, the fixed costs for the film processing industry decreases substantially and profit margin increases. However, cheaper printers will not help to reduce any overhead for the food processing industry. The company’s management does not provide any concrete support to establish any correlation between cost reduction in film processing and cost reduction in food processing. Therefore, it is purely wishful thinking to say that just because costs went down over time in the film processing industry, the same results will be achieved in the food processing industry. Secondly, the company’s management suggests that time is the only factor that will impact cost while neglecting a myriad of other factors. Although time plays an important role for a company to reach economics of scale, it is definitely not the only factor. In fact in most cases what truly drives cost reduction is technological improvements that leads to increase in overall efficiency. For example, one of the major functions in the food processing industry is packaging. As technology of packaging machines improves over a ten year period, the industry can hire less workers to achieve the same output, this will reduce labor overhead and lead to an increase in the bottom line. But once the technology reaches a plateau, the efficiency per machine will stay flat and costs will remain the same no matter how much time passes by. Therefore, the passage of time is definitely not the only factor that leads to increased productivity and cost reduction. Ultimately, the company compares two vastly different industries in its report and wrongly assumes that time is the only factor to have an effect on cost reduction. In order to make the argument stronger, the report should provide more examples of cost reduction in peer companies and also demonstrate tangible ways the company will be able to improve efficiency. In its current form, the report’s argument lacks substance and should not be relied on by the investors.
Educational ReformJuly 24th, 2017
In the Saluda newspaper editorial, the writer proposes to reduce the number of courses offered at Saluda Consolidated High School on the basis that a smaller private school in town offers a basic curriculum with significantly less courses yet consistently sends a higher proportion of graduating seniors to college than Saluda Consolidated High School does. At first glance, this argument seems sound, but upon further examination, the argument contains severe logical flaws that casts major doubt on the validity of the conclusion.
Motorcycle NoiseJuly 24th, 2017
In the business section of the local newspaper, the author attempts to analyze why a foreign version of a popular product Motorcycle X is not selling well in the US market. Some have suggested that it is due to the fact that the foreign copycat version lacks the exceptionally loud noise made by motorcycle X. However, the author argues that there must be another explanation based on the fact that foreign cars tend to be quieter but sell just as well and that motorcycle X advertisements does not specifically promote the loud noise it makes but rather focuses on durability and sleek lines. At first glance, the author's argument seems sound but upon further examination, it contains severe logical flaws and the conclusion can't be relied upon.
School FundsJuly 23rd, 2017
The financial planning office recommends that the Fern Valley University administration to combat declining enrollments and admission applications by holding a fund raising camping in order to secure funds to expand the range of subjects taught at the school and also increase the size of the library facilities. This recommendation is made based on the fact that students often cite poor teaching and inadequate library resources as their number one source of dissatisfaction with the university. At first glance, this recommendation seems to make sense, but upon further examination, it contains severe logical flaws that casts severe doubt on the validity of its conclusion. First of all, the financial office readily assumes that the problem of poor teaching can be resolved by simply expanding the range of subjects taught. But the number of courses being taught may not be at the core of the problem. In most cases, poor teaching is a result of low caliber teachers and inefficient teaching methods. If the school administration does not tackle these issues, then no matter how many subjects are being taught, students will still be dissatisfied. For example, if the school raises money and starts a couple of new courses that students are very interested in taking, but the professors teaching the class are highly unqualified and leads terrible lecturers, then students will still be dissatisfied. In addition, if many professors are still using very outdated teaching methodologies, students will not be able to get a lot out of these courses and will find the teaching insufferable. In order to rectify this problem, the school administration needs to take a deeper look at the student feedback surveys of the different professors in the school. If some professors are constantly receiving low remarks, then perhaps the school should consider making some personnel changes and bring in new talent. Secondly, the finance office’s recommendation is based on the wrong assumption that increasing the size of library facilities will solve the problem of students’ dissatisfaction with library resources. Again, this is not a logical solution as the central problem is not the size of the facilities themselves but rather the quality of the resources the library offers. For example, if students go to a library and is not able to find the academic material he/she needs for a project or paper, then of course they will be very dissatisfied. Simply increasing the size of the library, however, does not fix the problem. The school needs to invest more funds into expanding its book collection and purchase subscriptions to academic databases so students can have access to different research papers and scholarly articles. While increasing the size of the facilities may allow the libraries to accommodate more students, it is not the heart of the issue at hand. Ultimately, the financial office’s recommendations are made on wrong assumptions that do not tackle the heart of the problems. In order to strengthen the argument, the school needs to conduct an in-depth survey to show that student dissatisfaction stems from the array of courses offered and the size of the libraries. Without any empirical evidence to support the argument, the financial office’s recommendation has no legs to stand on and their recommendation should be not relied upon by the school administration.
Dept StoresJuly 23rd, 2017
In the business manager’s recommendation, he suggests the department store to reduce the size of the clothing departments and enlarge the home furnishings and household products. He makes the argument on the basis that the average profits have decreased for clothing in the previous three month period while the average profit for household products has increased. While this conclusion may seem reasonable at first glance, upon further examination, it is made on assumptions that are missing key supporting evidence. As such, the conclusion is weak, unconvincing, and contains logical flaws. First of all, the manager automatically assumes that just because average profits for household products have increased in the past three month, it is more profitable to sell household products than clothing. However, there is no actual economic analysis given to show which product is more profitable. An important indicator of how profitable a product is the profit margin, which is not mentioned at all in the argument. In addition, the relative increase/decrease in the average profits is not mentioned either. Without knowing these statistics, it is impossible to determine which product is actually more profitable. For example, if the profit margin for clothing products is 50% and average profit decreased by 5% while the profit margin for home goods is 20% and the average profit increased by 5%, then the clothing products would still be more profitable than household goods. As such, it would be foolish for the department store to scale back on clothing as that would actually lead to a decrease in profit margin. Secondly, the manager makes the assumption that the trends for the two different products will continue in the long run, but this thinking is very myopic and does not focus on long term profitability. In business, three month is a very short time frame and the performance trends could reverse at any minute. In addition, the manager fails to provide any analysis on the drivers behind the trend. For example, it is very possible that there was a flux of first time home buyers from August to October, as a result, the purchase of home goods increased as well. But in such a case, the trend will definitely not continue after the initial purchases for house products have been made. In addition, August to October is a transitional period of seasonal change, consumers may have withheld their purchases waiting for the summer styles clothing to fade out and the new fall styles to come in. The manager completely overlooks any of these possibilities and simply assumes that the trends will continue, casting doubt on the conclusion. Ultimately, the manager’s argument is made on assumptions that lack key supporting evidence. In order to make the argument stronger, he needs to provide economic statistics to demonstrate that household goods are indeed more profitable than clothing and also provide evidence to show that the trends in the past three month are sustainable going forward. Without these support, the argument has no legs to stand on and the conclusion is dubious at best.
Newspaper TestJuly 23rd, 2017
In the magazine article, the author claims that the general popluation are not as concrened with regulating their intake of red meat and fatty cheeses as they were a decade ago. His conclusion is based on the fact that Heart's Delight, a grocery store known for selling organic fruits and vegetables also has a wide selection of cheeses and that the owners of the new beef restaruant are millionaires while the owners of Good Earth Cafe are just making a modest living. At first glance, the argument may seem reasonable, but upon further examination, it contains severe logical flaws that casts severe doubt on the validity of the conclusion. Firstly, the author readily assumes that there is a direct one to one relationship between Heart's Delight offering fatty cheeses and people's attitude toward regulating red meat and fatty cheeses. But there is no supporting evdience to back this up. There could be many reasons why Heart's Delight offers fatty cheeses. Perhaps they have a good relationship with the farmers who produce the cheese and receive a steep discount. Or perhaps these cheeses are essential for certain salad recipes, the supermarket wants to be a one stop shop where the customers can purchase all their ingredients. Most importantly, the author never mentions when the store started offering these fatty cheeses. If Heart Delight has always offered these cheese selections from the inception from the store, then that would mean there is no corrlation with people's attitude toward food consumption and destorys the author's argument. Second of all, the author again makes a faulty assumption based on the fact that the owners of the new House of Beef are millionaires and claims that people are not as concerned with the intake of red meat. But this is a extremely far fetched argument that overlooks many other factors. The House of Beef could be doing really well simply because they offer delicious food using quality meat and has great customer service. In addition, it is possible that it is a high end steak restaruant catered to wealthier patrons and charges higher premiums onf foods and thus generates more profit. On the other hand, Good Earth cafe could be catered to more average consumers and has lower prices and thus a lower profit margin. The author completley negelects these economic facotrs in his argument , just because House of Beef is doing better as a business does not mean people are indugling themselves in red meat. Ultimately, the author's argument is made based on faulty assumptions that is not supported by any concerete evidence. In order to make the argument stronger, the author needs to conduct better research and show that there has been a large increase in the consumption of fatty cheese and red meat per person over the last decaded. Without any empirical statistics to back up the claim, the conclusion is weak, unconvining and has no legs to stand on.