Critical Response to Martin and Milway’s Editorial Essay
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In “A Productive Labour: The Only Limit to Productivity Growth is Human Ingenuity,” authors Martin and Milway present an argument for increasing productivity as a means of raising Canada’s economic health and living standards. Although Martin and Milway’s editorial on productivity present a piece that is rational and easily understood, its effort to convince that readers of its main argument is encumbered by weaknesses in the authors’ approach and reasoning that lead to more questions being raised than answered in the course of one’s reading.
The editorial underlines the importance of improving Canada’s productivity in light of rising prices of manufactured goods and services that accompanied the strengthening of the Canadian dollar in 2001. The main argument put forth is that enhancing productivity is critical in ensuring improvements on the country’s living standards.
The authors proceed to support their arguments by presenting two ways by which living standards can be raised, the first by increasing the number of working hours or using up more natural and physical resources for sustained wealth creation, and the second by improving productivity or raising the value created per working hour.
After illustrating that the first way is not a viable alternative, the authors then concentrate on convincing the reader why the second way is better by defining the concept of productivity based on efficiency and innovation.
The strength of Martin and Milway’s editorial lies in its ability to appeal to the rational side of its readers and their ability to tackle an otherwise complicated subject in simple terms. The authors attempt to defend their arguments by stating facts and carefully defining their subject, that is, productivity. As a result, the readers are compelled to view their argument in consideration of the definition that they present. Unfortunately, several weaknesses in Martin and Milway’s editorial in terms of their approach and in their reasoning reduce the effectivity of their argument.
The biggest errors that exist in the editorial are faulty reasoning and the inability of the authors to substantiate their claim. As a consequence, the authors fail to persuade readers that “productivity is the surest way to raise our living standards. ” (par. 4) The editorial was clearly written to convince readers that Canada needs to raise its productivity if it is to continue its economic growth and if it is to raise living standards.
On the other hand, the authors fail to present evidence to substantiate this claim aside from the argument that it is the most cost-effective alternative in terms of labour, time, and natural resources. The authors automatically assumed that the readers of the editorial would readily accept that an increase in economic growth follows from an increase in productivity. Likewise, this argument raises several implications: first, that economic growth is not possible without an increased productivity; second, that productivity growth always leads to a raise in the living standards.
It is here that the informed audience becomes wary as the authors’ bias shows through in their failure to consider countries with high productivity growth but low living standards. This shows a lack of forethought of the authors in answering the questions that would be inevitably raised by their argument. The main weakness of the editorial is that the authors commit fallacies in reasoning. For one, they are “begging the question” wherein the reader must already accept the conclusion in order to accept the evidence forwarded (Boyne, et. al. , 69).
For instance, the authors enumerate the ways by which productivity can be improved to support their main contention. They state that “productivity increases in one of two ways: greater efficiency in how we employ labour and capital, or greater value creation per unit of these inputs. ”(par. 8) This flow of the discussion reflects an assumption on the part of the authors that their main argument has already been accepted by the readers since discussing the ways by which productivity can be improved does not necessarily support the argument that productivity will improve the country’s economy.
This circular reasoning makes the reader feel like the authors are trying to sound logical but cannot support their argument beyond the definition of the subject. Another obvious error in reasoning in the Martin and Milway’s editorial is superstition (Boyne, et. al. , 70) or hasty generalization. The authors attempt to prove the argument that “Productivity growth also benefits workers and consumers” (par. 14) by stating that “countries and regions with higher productivity pay higher wages” (par. 14) which assumes that higher wages automatically result from higher productivity.
If one is to follow this argument, then it would imply that countries and regions that pay lower wages are not productive or low in productivity. In sum, a critical analysis of the piece reveals that the weaknesses outweigh the positive aspects in Martin and Milway’s editorial. Shortcomings in substantiating the editorial’s central argument with credible evidence as well as the inability to defend their argument in a logical manner renders the entire editorial ineffective in convincing the reader of the importance of improving productivity to improve their lives.