[OPE-L:2478] RE: Welfare functions

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Fri Mar 03 2000 - 12:43:12 EST

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Re Allin's [2468]:

> > 2) such a function could/should be maximisable (or minimisable; e.g.
> > minimising necessary labour-time)

> Personally I don't accept any of (1) through (3).

> Bluntly, I believe the idea of a full-blown SWF is a
> technocratic fantasy. I believe it will be very useful for
> planners and populace to have an explicit measure of the labour
> time required to produce things, and that minimizing labour-time
> in the production of any given vector of goods is a reasonable
> first-order approximation to achieving efficiency, but I think
> it's dangerous to assume that all the factors one would want to
> consider in allocating resources can be collapsed to a single
> scalar measure.

But, how reasonable is it?

If one uses the criteria of the minimization of necessary labour-time as
the means to increase efficiency, then doesn't one minimize necessary
labour-time by maximizing the intensity of labour, ceteras paribus? Yet,
the maximization of the intensity of labour seems a particularly dangerous
vehicle for maximizing the "efficiency" of a "socialist" economy. Indeed,
how can any such decision about labour intensity be left to the
technocrats and planners? Doesn't socialism require an integrated
mechanism for workers' control whereby these decisions are made by the
workers themselves rather than "surrogates" like state planners or the

In solidarity, Jerry

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