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03 Jan 2013, 21:02
"Americans spend far too much of their time buying and consuming non-essential goods. Studies show that, on average Americans spend over a quarter of their leisure time shopping. As such, it is no secret why America is losing its competitive edge relative to other countries. Instead of spending their time productively, Americans are wasting time through frivolous consumption. In order to counteract this trend, Americans should spend more time focused on personal and communal development--by, for example, pursuing educational advancement or participating in volunteer opportunities."
The conclusion suggests that if Americans spend more time focusing on personal and communal development, America will have better competitive edge in the global market. The argument has stated some reasons which are not well substantiated. There are many flaws in reasoning. Further explanation and concrete evidence would have made this argument stronger. I will elaborate on the weaknesses of the argument, in the following paragraphs.
Firstly, the argument states that Americans are spending a lot of time buying and consuming non-essential goods, which results in spending more than one fourth of the leisure time of an average American shopping. The author fails to explain what non-essential goods are. Perhaps, consumer sales of these non-essential goods are helping the country’s sales to increase. This could also indirectly lead to an increase in the manufacturing, retails and the exports to be profitable and providing better and more job opportunities to Americans. The author’s argument should have mentioned if these reasons are not true with proper data and examples to prove that retail sales of the non-essential goods is the reason for America to not do well.
Americans should participate more in pursuing activities such as educational advancement or volunteering for personal and communal development. This claim is weak for we do not understand what the outcome would be if Americans spent time in the developmental activities the author mentions. There is a possibility that these activities may not help America on economic grounds and make its stance better in the global market. Americans could still be jobless after an educational degree or volunteering may not be very fruitful. There is no correlation which is mentioned between the developmental activities and economic betterment of America. Proper and elaborate examples of how these developmental activities would have helped American would have helped this case become stronger.
Frivolous consumption is only a waste of time. I would like to understand what frivolous consumption means in this context. Appropriate data and evidence to substantiate this point would have given some credence to it.
The argument also fails to mention how America is losing its competitive edge relative to the other countries. The author has assumed this without presenting any strong evidence. There can be many factors and parameters which are not mentioned in the paragraph. The country could be in debt, outsourcing its jobs, lack of skills, some natural disaster, credit crisis and so on. If the other reasons are weakened then, they could have been ruled out. I could still give some credit to the reason stated by the author for America losing it competitive edge.
The argument present is weak and flawed due to many assumptions, lack of evidence and explanations. I would agree with the Author if he/she could strengthen it with more examples, stronger evidence, substantiating the assumptions and weakening other reasons.