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Although the price of gasoline can sometimes reach uncomfort

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Although the price of gasoline can sometimes reach uncomfortable highs, the true price of gas is not reflected in the price paid at the pump. Oil companies receive billions of dollars in tax credits and subsidies from the government. In addition, taxes pay for the maintenance of roads and highways, which the oil companies rely on to create a market for their product. Therefore, drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles are subsidizing the gas purchases of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles.

Which of the following would it be most useful to determine in order to evaluate the argument?
(A) Whether other segments of the population, such as pedestrians or bicyclists, derive benefits from road and highway maintenance
(B) Whether, on average, drivers of high-mileage vehicles of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles spend more per month on gas
(C) Whether oil companies earn a substantial proportion of their profits from automobile gasoline sales
(D) Whether the benefits of road and highway maintenance accrue disproportionately to drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles
(E) Whether tax credits to oil companies and road maintenance are the only way the government affects the price of gas

Please explain your reasoning along with your answer.

Originally posted by mba1382 on 03 Oct 2013, 09:58.
Last edited by mba1382 on 07 Sep 2015, 00:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Although the price of gasoline can sometimes reach uncomfort  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Oct 2013, 14:24
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mba1382 wrote:
Although the price of gasoline can sometimes reach uncomfortable highs, the true price of gas is not reflected in the price paid at the pump. Oil companies receive billions of dollars in tax credits and subsidies from the government. In addition, taxes pay for the maintenance of roads and highways, which the oil companies rely on to create a market for their product. Therefore, drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles are subsidizing the gas purchases of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles.

Which of the following would it be most useful to determine in order to evaluate the argument?
(A) Whether other segments of the population, such as pedestrians or bicyclists, derive benefits from road and highway maintenance
(B) Whether, on average, drivers of high-mileage vehicles of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles spend more per month on gas
(C) Whether oil companies earn a substantial proportion of their profits from automobile gasoline sales
(D) Whether the benefits of road and highway maintenance accrue disproportionately to drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles
(E) Whether tax credits to oil companies and road maintenance are the only way the government affects the price of gas

Please explain your reasoning along with your answer.

Dear mba1382
I'm happy to respond. :-)

Apparently, this is a GMAT Hacks question. I'm not sure that I like it.

First of all, let's eliminate (A) & (E) right away --- irrelevant. Perhaps they could be distractors, but when it comes down to it, they say zilch about whether drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles are subsidizing the gas purchases of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles. Those two are out.

(C) is interesting, but suppose we knew the answer were "yes" ---- suppose we knew, "Yes, 75% of the profits of oil companies comes directly from automobile gasoline sales." Even if we knew that was true, that would not tell us who was getting a better deal, drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles or drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles. Knowing the answer does not necessarily shed any light on the answer to the specific question we trying to evaluate. (C) is out.

Now, (B) & (D).

(D) is clearly a valid answer ---- if the drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles benefit disproportionately from the road and highway maintenance, then all those tax dollars spend on that benefits them more, and the other drivers who pay their taxes are paying for those benefits. That would clearly mean that "drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles are subsidizing the gas purchases of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles".

(B) is what I find problematic. The GMAT Hacks folks say, "This is related to the topic at hand, but not very directly. The amount spent on gas depends not only on gas efficiency, but also on number of miles driven. Since we don't know whether high- or low-mileage vehicle drivers drive more miles, we can't evaluate the argument with this bit of information." Something is a little funky about the grammar of (B) ---- "drivers of high-mileage vehicles of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles" --- when it comes right down to it, I'm not sure what they are trying to say there. Should that "of" be an "or"? Or, are they trying to say one subgroup among a larger group?? The unclear wording is identical on the GMAT Hacks website, so there was no copying error in posting this question.
I interpreted (B) as ---- whether drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles spend more per month on gas than do drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles. Let's think about this. Suppose that's true, as one might suspect it would be. Suppose, on average, drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles spend, say, $150/month on gas, and drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles spend, say, $60/month. Now, suppose what anyone pays at the pump is 10% of the true cost of the oil --- the paragraph tells us the true cost is much more that what folks pay at the pump: I just pick 10% for convenience. This means the drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles pay $150 for $1500 worth of gas, netting a 1500 - 150 = $1350 savings from the government. By contrast, the drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles pay $60 for $600 of gas, netting a $540 savings from the government. Assuming, on average, both sets of drivers pay the same taxes, then one group is clearly getting more a savings, and others, by paying their income taxes, are subsidizing this.

If my interpretation of (B) is valid, then it's also a valid answer. BTW, I believe this is what happens in real life --- something often reflected in GMAT CR questions in official material! If they have another understanding of what (B) says, then it is far from clear to me. If what they mean to say is:
(B') Whether, among all drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles, those drivers who drive the highest mileage, on average, spend more per month on gas.
OK, then that answer would be would clearly not be relevant to answering the question, leaving (D) as the only contender. I guess the issue is precisely what they are trying to communicate in (B).

Here's a practice CR question with no ambiguity in the text of the question.
http://gmat.magoosh.com/questions/3128
When you submit your answer, the following page will have a video explanation. Each one of our GMAT practice questions has its own video explanation, for accelerated learning.

Let me know if you have any questions.
Mike :-)
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Re: Although the price of gasoline can sometimes reach uncomfort  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Oct 2013, 20:41
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Thanks Mike for the wonderful explanation. Really good to understand your reasoning. :-)

mikemcgarry wrote:
mba1382 wrote:
Although the price of gasoline can sometimes reach uncomfortable highs, the true price of gas is not reflected in the price paid at the pump. Oil companies receive billions of dollars in tax credits and subsidies from the government. In addition, taxes pay for the maintenance of roads and highways, which the oil companies rely on to create a market for their product. Therefore, drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles are subsidizing the gas purchases of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles.

Which of the following would it be most useful to determine in order to evaluate the argument?
(A) Whether other segments of the population, such as pedestrians or bicyclists, derive benefits from road and highway maintenance
(B) Whether, on average, drivers of high-mileage vehicles of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles spend more per month on gas
(C) Whether oil companies earn a substantial proportion of their profits from automobile gasoline sales
(D) Whether the benefits of road and highway maintenance accrue disproportionately to drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles
(E) Whether tax credits to oil companies and road maintenance are the only way the government affects the price of gas

Please explain your reasoning along with your answer.

Dear mba1382
I'm happy to respond. :-)

Apparently, this is a GMAT Hacks question. I'm not sure that I like it.

First of all, let's eliminate (A) & (E) right away --- irrelevant. Perhaps they could be distractors, but when it comes down to it, they say zilch about whether drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles are subsidizing the gas purchases of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles. Those two are out.

(C) is interesting, but suppose we knew the answer were "yes" ---- suppose we knew, "Yes, 75% of the profits of oil companies comes directly from automobile gasoline sales." Even if we knew that was true, that would not tell us who was getting a better deal, drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles or drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles. Knowing the answer does not necessarily shed any light on the answer to the specific question we trying to evaluate. (C) is out.

Now, (B) & (D).

(D) is clearly a valid answer ---- if the drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles benefit disproportionately from the road and highway maintenance, then all those tax dollars spend on that benefits them more, and the other drivers who pay their taxes are paying for those benefits. That would clearly mean that "drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles are subsidizing the gas purchases of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles".

(B) is what I find problematic. The GMAT Hacks folks say, "This is related to the topic at hand, but not very directly. The amount spent on gas depends not only on gas efficiency, but also on number of miles driven. Since we don't know whether high- or low-mileage vehicle drivers drive more miles, we can't evaluate the argument with this bit of information." Something is a little funky about the grammar of (B) ---- "drivers of high-mileage vehicles of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles" --- when it comes right down to it, I'm not sure what they are trying to say there. Should that "of" be an "or"? Or, are they trying to say one subgroup among a larger group?? The unclear wording is identical on the GMAT Hacks website, so there was no copying error in posting this question.
I interpreted (B) as ---- whether drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles spend more per month on gas than do drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles. Let's think about this. Suppose that's true, as one might suspect it would be. Suppose, on average, drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles spend, say, $150/month on gas, and drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles spend, say, $60/month. Now, suppose what anyone pays at the pump is 10% of the true cost of the oil --- the paragraph tells us the true cost is much more that what folks pay at the pump: I just pick 10% for convenience. This means the drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles pay $150 for $1500 worth of gas, netting a 1500 - 150 = $1350 savings from the government. By contrast, the drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles pay $60 for $600 of gas, netting a $540 savings from the government. Assuming, on average, both sets of drivers pay the same taxes, then one group is clearly getting more a savings, and others, by paying their income taxes, are subsidizing this.

If my interpretation of (B) is valid, then it's also a valid answer. BTW, I believe this is what happens in real life --- something often reflected in GMAT CR questions in official material! If they have another understanding of what (B) says, then it is far from clear to me. If what they mean to say is:
(B') Whether, among all drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles, those drivers who drive the highest mileage, on average, spend more per month on gas.
OK, then that answer would be would clearly not be relevant to answering the question, leaving (D) as the only contender. I guess the issue is precisely what they are trying to communicate in (B).

Here's a practice CR question with no ambiguity in the text of the question.
http://gmat.magoosh.com/questions/3128
When you submit your answer, the following page will have a video explanation. Each one of our GMAT practice questions has its own video explanation, for accelerated learning.

Let me know if you have any questions.
Mike :-)
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Re: Although the price of gasoline can sometimes reach uncomfort  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Oct 2013, 08:16
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Verbal section needs to be properly moderated because questions like these cause more confusion. Where are the moderators?
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Re: Although the price of gasoline can sometimes reach uncomfort  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Oct 2013, 08:50
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Hi Mike,

The premise says that drivers with efficient car are at disadvantage. Because drivers with inefficient cars use more gas and hence get a higher share of subsidy.
If (B) said: Whether, on average, drivers of high-mileage vehicles spend more per month on gas than drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles, wouldnt it be a strong contender? Because now efficient cars are using more gas and hence do not lose on their subsidy share.

As for D, i am not convinced. Fuel inefficient has nothing to do with road or maintenance. Both vehicles will do same amount of wear and tear.
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Re: Although the price of gasoline can sometimes reach uncomfort  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Oct 2013, 14:44
tusharGupta1 wrote:
Verbal section needs to be properly moderated because questions like these cause more confusion. Where are the moderators?

For better or worse, any user can post any question from any reasonably legitimate GMAT prep source. Even if the question is of poor quality, we moderators are not really in a position to remove it --- we would only remove it if the question clearly, unambiguously, included content or a format not at all found on the test. You see, many moderators, such as me, work for individual companies. Now, if folks from Company A started removing questions posted by Company B, that could get into some really dicey legal issues. This question presumably wasn't posted directly by GMAT Hacks, but the folks at GMAT Hacks probably want their questions to stay posted, and eventually may come to defend or edit their question. I can state my opinion, but it's not my place to decide imperiously, "This question does not belong in the forum! Let this question be condemned to the outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth!" Does all this make sense?

summer101 wrote:
Hi Mike,
The premise says that drivers with efficient car are at disadvantage. Because drivers with inefficient cars use more gas and hence get a higher share of subsidy.
If (B) said: Whether, on average, drivers of high-mileage vehicles spend more per month on gas than drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles, wouldnt it be a strong contender? Because now efficient cars are using more gas and hence do not lose on their subsidy share.

As for D, i am not convinced. Fuel inefficient has nothing to do with road or maintenance. Both vehicles will do same amount of wear and tear.

In Evaluate the Argument CR questions, be careful not to presume to know the answer to any of the questions they are proposing. For example (D) asks the question "Whether the benefits of road and highway maintenance accrue disproportionately to drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles" If the roads were unrepaired, would that harm all cars equally? Maybe. Would an unrepaired, unimproved road disproportionately damage some cars more than others? Maybe. Allow yourself to be open-minded with respect to the answers to such questions. The crucial issue is: would a "yes" vs. "no" answer to this be a game-changer in thinking about this argument? If the answer happens to be "yes", don't worry about the details of how or why it could be "yes" --- that's NOT what the question is asking. The overall question is asking --- would a "yes" vs. "no" answer to this particular answer choice make a big difference in how we evaluate the argument?
Does all this make sense?
Mike:-)
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New post 04 Oct 2013, 18:15
Conclusion: Therefore, drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles are subsidizing the gas purchases of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles.
Choice B:
"Whether, on average, drivers of high-mileage vehicles of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles spend more per month on gas"
if yes: high-mileage vehicle+drivers spending more = the number of miles is more. So, using highway more - conclusion breaks
if No: the number of miles is less. So, using less highway.- conclusion holds true.

Choice D:
Whether the benefits of road and highway maintenance accrue disproportionately to drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles.
is it not out of scope? because this choice narrows the scope the road maintenance only?what if road maintenance is not frequent, once in a five year.

Kindly explain!
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New post 06 Oct 2013, 13:35
vivmechster wrote:
Conclusion: Therefore, drivers of small, high-mileage vehicles are subsidizing the gas purchases of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles.
Choice B:
"Whether, on average, drivers of high-mileage vehicles of drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles spend more per month on gas"
if yes: high-mileage vehicle+drivers spending more = the number of miles is more. So, using highway more - conclusion breaks
if No: the number of miles is less. So, using less highway.- conclusion holds true.

Choice D:
Whether the benefits of road and highway maintenance accrue disproportionately to drivers of gas-inefficient vehicles.
is it not out of scope? because this choice narrows the scope the road maintenance only?what if road maintenance is not frequent, once in a five year.

Kindly explain!

Dear vivmechster,
It's not clear to me whether you have read through the entire thread. I have already commented extensively on this question. if you have specific questions in response to something I have already written, I would be more than happy to answer them.
Mike :-)
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Re: Although the price of gasoline can sometimes reach uncomfort  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Oct 2013, 15:13
I can confirm this is a GMAT Hacks question of the day. It appeared on April 9, 2013. I've updated the source tag for future reference. Included below is the Official Explanation.

Answer: D This is an evidence question. The argument is that, because of the various benefits that go to oil companies and road maintenance, the "true price" of gas is supported by the government. This means that drivers of inefficient vehicles aren't paying their fair share. We're looking for a choice that has an outcome that would either strengthen or weaken the argument (that is, "evaluate the argument"). (A) This is irrelevant to the comparison between high- and low-mileage vehicles. (B) This is related to the topic at hand, but not very directly. The amount spent on gas depends not only on gas efficiency, but also on number of miles driven. Since we don't know whether high- or low-mileage vehicle drivers drive more miles, we can't evaluate the argument with this bit of information. (C) This is off-topic, though it does relate to things in the argument. It doesn't matter how oil companies make their money--the point is that, thanks to government support, the price of gas is lower than it would otherwise be. (D) This is correct. The argument is essentially claiming that the benefits of those "hidden costs" are to the advantage of inefficient vehicle drivers. If we knew whether some of those benefits really were accruing to certain types of drivers, we would be better able to evaluate the argument. (E) This is irrelevant--the argument is about how certain governmental policies affect the price of gas, not whether the listed mechanisms are the only ways it does so.
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New post 01 Aug 2014, 06:20
Hi Mike,

Assuming your first interpretation of B is correct would make both B and D valid. In that case which one would be the correct answer? Or can we be sure that such situations will not arise in the GMAT?
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New post 01 Aug 2014, 13:16
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tsatomic wrote:
Hi Mike,

Assuming your first interpretation of B is correct would make both B and D valid. In that case which one would be the correct answer? Or can we be sure that such situations will not arise in the GMAT?

Dear tsatomic,
I'm happy to respond. :-) My friend, you can bet all your money, all your family's money, and all your friends' money that this situation will NEVER happen on the real GMAT, nor is it especially common with questions from any high quality GMAT prep source. On any well-written question, there is one unambiguously correct answer, and four unambiguously wrong answers. This question is particularly poor question. If my first interpretation of (B) is correct, that makes this a 100% flawed question, not worth studying, not at all representative of what you will see on the GMAT.

My friend, just because someone out there calls a question a GMAT CR practice question, do not be naive in assuming that the folks who wrote it necessarily adhere to the high standards of the GMAT. There are very good practice questions, and very not-good practice questions ---- all under the same label "GMAT practice questions" ---- and this particular question is one of the latter. There are many people out there who don't have much talent but are producing questions they call "GMAT practice questions." I can say nothing about this particular company overall, but this particular question is not good. Caveat emptor.

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
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Re: Although the price of gasoline can sometimes reach uncomfort  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Dec 2015, 04:57
A great Q, except for the wrongly worded option B.
B wasted a lot of time. :(
D was a direct answer though.

Thanks.
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New post 28 Jun 2017, 23:48
this is an assumption question.
Key word in D is "benefit" and "disproportion". This matches what is described in the conclusion.
Whereas in B, more spending from a type of vehicle may not lead to the conclusion stated in the argument.
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Re: Although the price of gasoline can sometimes reach uncomfort   [#permalink] 22 Feb 2019, 09:50
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