Sunday, July 31, 2011

This paper is a critical essay on the The New York Times Magazine article: The End Of Middle-Class America (and the Triumph of the Plutocrats) by Paul Krugman

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This paper is a critical essay on the The New York Times Magazine article The End Of Middle-Class America (and the Triumph of the Plutocrats) by Paul Krugman. I will be using the concepts that we have learned in class to analysis this article. The New York Times article looks at the fall of the Middle Class in the United States since the 10s. To analyses this paper I will be referring to Aristotelian Proof and the Toulmin model.


Aristotle used three terms to define the human psyche


Ethos is how the author presents himself or herself. In other words, what are the authors qualifications for making this argument? Is he humble, sarcastic, arrogant, scientific, etc. We make judgments all the time about peoples ethos. Think about going into your doctors office and seeing a medical degree from Harvard versus seeing a degree from a no-name town university. What is the difference. The same is true about an author of a piece of writing. The clues are more subtle but they are there if you look for them.


Pathos is more about the audience. How is the audience (of which you are a part) being manipulated. If the writing is a story, and the story is very sad and you are sitting at home crying while you read it, are you going to be more sympathetic to the argument that is being made? Commercials such as those put out by MADD or SADD are heartwrenching when they show pictures or talk about children who were killed by drunk drivers. Does the emotion make you more sympathetic? Of course. You can still believe the argument is valid, but it is important to realize that your emotions are being manipulated. Other areas where this happens is during very patriotic speeches in which you can almost imagine hearing the national anthem playing in the background.


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The argument may or may not be valid, but you are being manipulated by your emotions. Be suspicious of these arguments in general because our emotions are funny things; they can turn our heads away from a very illogical argument. If you can imagine music being played in the background when you are reading or listening to a speech, pathos is probably involved.


Finally, logos does not mean logic. Instead, it means where the author and audience members meet. Where is the common ground between the two? Both sides of a discussion must have common ground on which they can build in order to have a discussion. Major issues, such as abortion or capital punishment, are problematic issues to discuss because neither side can find any common ground with the other side. Therefore, no discussion can take place. There has to be common ground to build on in order to have a discussion and find resolution. These issues will never be resolved between the two binaries because no common ground exists between absolute black and white issues.


The Toulmin model describes the following


claim the element in the Toulmin model of argumentation that is the proposition the arguer supports


data another name for grounds in the Toulmin model of argumentation


backing; the element in the Toulmin model of argumentation that justifies believing the warrant


qualifier the element in the Toulmin model of argumentation that is any term or phrase that indicates the strength of the claim.


warrant the element in the Toulmin model of argumentation that explains why the grounds legitimately support the claim.


fields of argument subject related communities of arguers with argumentative rules specific to each community.


grounds the element in the Toulmin model of argumentation that is the evidence used to support the claim


modal qualifier another name for the qualifier in the Toulmin model of argumentation.


possible rebuttal the element in the Toulmin model of argumentation that is a statement indicating under what circumstances the claim may not be true.


verifiers the element added to the Toulmin model of argumentation that provides justification for believing the grounds.





Krugman starts the article by writing of the Gilded Age mansions that were monuments of a bygone social area. This is to connect with the reader no matter where they may be Long Island, Pittsburgh or Uniontown. The reader can refer to their personal experiences when reading the article that these homes were built by people of wealth at the turn of the century and this wealth was not evident in the 150s and 60s. He also writes about how these homes in the 150s and 60s in a middle class societies were not personal residence as they were when they were built, but now museums, nursing homes and Private Schools. The reader has to takes his word on what it was like in that area during the 150s and 60s because most of us reading it were not there. This is setting up the argument using Ethos as the persuasion tool. Ethos is the quality or strategies in writing that impresses the reader/audience with the authority and sense of the writer/speaker. So again, we take the writer’s word that this is how it was in the 150s and 60s. Krugman is setting up his argument by comparing the 150s to the late 10s with comeback of the mansions and the excess that many of the new wealth has and how poor the low class has become in the same time period.


The information in the beginning of the article is to anger the average reader so to get the reader to continue and finish the article. This article is an opinion or editorial so as to give one or a few persons point of view and to stir up debate or to create conversation on the differences in the classes. For example Krugman states in the beginning of the article that “ My sense is that few people are aware of just how much the gap between the very rich and the rest has widened over a relatively short period of time. In fact, evening bringing up the subject exposes you to charges of “class warfare”, the “politics of envy” and so on” these coments are to stir the


So in the beginning of the article he is explaining his argument the way Stephen Toulmin explained it in his model. Toulmin model shows that opinion (argument) is already created, due to the writer or speaker already having his or her mind made up and if this wasn’t true there would be no need for the argument to exist.


After establishing the argument Krugman now begins to justify his position by adding data that supports his belief. He uses an example from 1 when The New York Times Magazine profiled Thierry Despont an architect who specializes in designing houses for the supper rich. The homes that Despont design range from 0,000 to 60,000 square feet. This is just slightly smaller that the White House. This piece of information is just the start of Krugman’s argument that the inequality in the classes. This is only the beginning of the argument to persuade the audience to believe there is a large discrepancy


between the “haves and the have nots” .


Not only does Krugman talk about financial difference he continues to discuss the discrepancy with health care and political power in the United States. Krugman provides us with the warrants for the Toulmin Model. What is true for the financial system can be generally true for the health care and political system. Krugman is also able to have backing for his warrants (Toulmin Model). For example He writes about how “The 1,000 richest families in America now have almost as much income as the 0 million poorest. And those 1,000 families have incomes 00 times that of the average family”.


Krugman in his argument continues to go for the readers sense (Pathos) of injustice.


This is not to say that the reader does not have the right to draw these conclusions of injustice in the U.S. society concerning the extremely wealthy. This type of writing fuels the reader with more hatred for the wealthy, by taping into the readers personal experience toward the wealthy. Krugman use Pathos through out the piece to stir emotion and possible prejudices that the reader may already have toward the wealthy or ultra rich.





http//mrs.umn.edu/~joinerj/CollegeWriting-Spring-0/ethos.htm


http//mrs.umn.edu/~joinerj/CollegeWriting-Spring-0/


http//www.humboldt.edu/~act/Toulmin/review.html


http//www.concentric.net/~Creyn66/COMM5/Toulmin.htm


http//www.thismodernworld.com/weblog/archive/00_10_1_bloggera.html � analysis


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