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#17 - Using fossil energy more efficiently is in the

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Complete Question Explanation

Weaken. The correct answer choice is (E)

This stimulus provides that although efficient use of fossil fuels is in the interest of the nation and the world, government standards are needed in order to make improvements.

The objection: Energy use should be determined by the market.

The stimulus is followed by another weaken question, so we should look for the answer choice which would cause us to question the assertion that the market should rule in such contexts.

Answer choice (A): There is no mention of implementation "all at once," and no suggestion that either government standards or market forces might immediately maximize efficiency. Since this has no effect on the argument that market forces should rule, this answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (B): Whether or not certain products allow for easy assessment of inefficiencies, this makes it no more or less advisable to leave fossil fuel decisions to the market vs. the government, this answer choice does not weaken and is therefore incorrect.

Answer choice (C): The difficulty of implementation does not weaken the author's argument about market forces, so this answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (D): This answer choice would strengthen the argument that market forces would naturally find efficiency in the use of fossil fuels.

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. If the purchase of such products is often made by someone other than the end user, then market forces would not be as likely to maximize efficiency in every case. Landlords might, for example, buy an old, cheap, inefficient dishwasher to save money, knowing that tenants will be left with the higher bills.
netherlands
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Hi there PS,

I got stuck between answer choice C and E on this one, and chose E but still have questions on how C was disproven.

If using and adopting new energy is difficult and and costly for I guess manufacturers... etc... doesn't that mean that the market would be adverse to or reluctant to adopt energy efficient measures - or that they would do it more slowly?

The only reason that I think I chose E was because it explicitly demonstrated a person's purchasing something and completely ignoring the factor (energy efficiency) that the "objection" says they should be left to regulate. But i still felt like "C" could be a demonstration of how the market wouldn't best serve the interests of energy efficiency.
Steve Stein
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Hi Netherlands,

That's a good question, about whether energy use decisions are best left to the market. It's great that you landed on correct answer choice E--that one provides that the buyer might not make the best long-term decisions, based on short-term cost cutting and the fact that the buyer is not the person who will be paying its energy bills.

Incorrect answer choice C deals with a whole new mode of generating energy, such as a new fuel, whereas the stimulus in this case is only about continuing to use fossil fuels--just more efficiently. Either way, an economist might say that this would be something that the market could adjust to, whereas the problem presented in answer choice E is one that would persist--a continued mismatch between product purchaser and energy user.

Good question! I hope that's helpful! Let me know--thanks!

~Steve
Steve Stein
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netherlands
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Completely overlooked that detail. ( Using fossil fuel more efficiently vs Creating new modes of generating energy)
Erin Li
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Hello,

I was wondering if someone could explain this question? The correct answer is answer choice E but I find this answer choice is really strange and hard to understand. Maybe I've missed something?

Thanks!!

Erin
Robert Carroll
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Erin,

The Objection in the stimulus relies on the operations of the market to decide how to use energy. One way to weaken this objection would be to show a situation where the operations of the market lead to a bad outcome with respect to energy use. Answer choice (E) involves such a situation. The landlord makes a decision based on the purchase price of the appliance, but the landlord, not being his own tenant, won't be using that appliance. So the only cost he can consider is the purchase price. The prospective tenants who would use this appliance might, if they were able, choose to purchase a more energy efficient appliance, but they can't. So the choice of the actors in the market (landlord, tenant) results in its being more efficient from the landlord's point of view to buy an energy-inefficient appliance (if the purchase price is lower), even though a tenant might not want it. So the operation of the market resulted in inefficient use of energy, and the objection is undermined.

Robert Carroll
Erin Li
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That makes much more sense now!

Thank you :D

Erin
justpeachy
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I'm having difficulty understanding the stimulus for this question. I reread it multiple times, which threw off my timing for the total section of course :x but I still am clueless as to what the stimulus is talking about.

What exactly is meant when the objector states "Decisions on energy use are best left to the operation of the market." I had trouble figuring out what was meant by that statement and so naturally none of the answer choices made much sense to me. I know this is a weaken question, but I couldn't understand the argument I was being asked to weaken. Le sigh.
Nikki Siclunov
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Hi justpeachy,

Thanks for the question! This is an interesting problem, so let's start by looking at what's happening in the stimulus. The argument and its objection are rehashing the age-old debate over the government's role in environmental protection. The main argument is the classic pro-government position, whereby it's the government's job to ensure that the most pollutive, least energy-efficient practices are brought to a minimum. The objection is your typical free-market environmentalism, according to which it is the the free market (and not the government) that provides the best means of preserving the environment. In other words, a system whereby rational self-interest leads to economic well-being (i.e. the free-market economy) is perfectly capable of making the right decisions on energy use.

Let me first give you an example that would strengthen the objection: say your summer house has a pool, but you don't want to spend the money heating it up. Oil furnaces are expensive to operate. So you decide to invest in solar panels, which are expensive to buy but energy-efficient, and will save you a ton of money in the long run. Your decision to eliminate a pollutive practice and invest in cleaner energy is driven by self-interest, not by the government telling you what you should or shouldn't do with your pool. Free market wins.

Now, what if you rent out your summer house? If your tenants are responsible for the cost of utilities, are you going to install fancy solar panels? Probably not, because you won't be the one reaping the benefits from a more efficient energy practice. You'll probably put the cheapest shit in there. Do you care how much it costs to operate your oil furnace? Nope. Your decision on energy use is again driven by self-interest, but it's not environmentally friendly.

Ok, does that help clarify how answer choice (E) works? Please let me know if it doesn't, and we can go over this in more depth if so.

Btw, you do need some (limited) Economics background to understand some of the arguments presented on the LSAT. If you don't have any, or if you don't feel 100% comfortable with some of the stuff you see on the LSAT, I'd suggest checking out Naked Economics (http://amzn.com/0393337642) - it's a wonderful little book, and it will help you a lot when you come across similar arguments in the future!

Hope this helps! Please let me know.
Nikki Siclunov
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justpeachy
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Hi Nikki,
Thank you so much for your help! I was a biochem major in undergrad so my exposure to economics is zilch!

Your explanation was very clear. Let me make sure that I am applying it to the question stimulus appropriately: So is it safe for me to assume that whenever the test writers use "operation of the market" I should infer that they mean "free market", and that a "free market" is a market that operates without government intrusion. The people, not government decide how things run. In reality, in a free market people can shit on the environment or economy in the pursuit of their own interests (as demonstrated by your example and Answer Choice E). The objector however fails to acknowledge this, arguing essentially that government intervention isn't necessary because in a free market people won't shit on the environment or the economy just to pursue their own interests, and that we can count on people alone to make decisions that are in the best interest of the environment.

If I got all that right , then Answer E makes sense to me. E weakens the objection because it gives an example of where in a free market system, a person made a decision where they did not consider the best interest of the environment, and made a decision that possibly led to environmental harm. The landlord picked an appliance based on price without regard for the environment and it's possible that the appliance could harm the environment.

Fingers crossed I got that near right.