GMAT : Analysis of An Argument
79. The following appeared in the editorial section of a monthly business newsmagazine.
Most companies would agree that as the risk of physical injury occurring on the job increases, the wages paid to employees should also increase. Hence it makes financial sense for employers to make the workplace safer. They could thus reduce their payroll expenses and save money.
Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underline the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate in conclusion.
In this editorial the author argues that it makes financial sense for employers to make the workplace safer.
In support of this claim the author reasons that since wages paid to employees should increase as the risk of physical injury increases, the converse should be true as well. Hence, by decreasing the risk of injury, employers could decrease the wages paid to workers and thereby save money.
This argument is unconvincing for two reasons.
To begin with, the author assumes that because companies would agree that wages should increase in proportion to the increase in the risk of injury, they would also agree that wages should decrease in proportion to the decrease in the risk of injury. This is tantamount to the assumption that risk of injury is the primary factor that determines workers' wages. It is obvious that few employers and even fewer employees would agree that this is the case. To adopt this position one will have to disregard education, experience and skill as equally important factors in determining the wages paid to workers.
Secondly, the author's reasoning suggests that the only benefit of a safer workplace is the savings employers could realize from lower wages. This is obviously not true. The costs associated with accidents on the job could far outweigh any savings that could be realized by paying workers lower wages.
In conclusion, the author's argument is unconvincing. Risk of injury is an important factor in the determination of the wages paid to workers but is not the only such factor. Furthermore, there are far better reasons for employers to make the workplace safer than the one presented by the author.