[OPE-L:3423] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: objectivity of value

From: Patrick L. Mason (pmason@garnet.acns.fsu.edu)
Date: Fri Jun 02 2000 - 12:04:44 EDT

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Ajit's posting on differential wages and reduction coefficients raises a
problem. Wage differentials may occur because of skill differentials,
differences in the bargaining power of workers, and differences in the
ability of firms to pay.

The reduction coefficients problem is usually framed in terms of

L_u = a*L_s,

where L_s is labor time of skilled workers, L_u is the labor time of
unskilled workers, and
a is the reduction coefficient. So, unskilled labor time represents only a
fraction of skilled labor time.

Wage_s = f(L_s, bargaining power, ability to pay)

Wage_u = f(a*L_s, bargaining power, ability to pay)

When Marx (and Ricardo) says that the reduction of skilled labor to
unskilled (or general, average) labor time goes on behind the backs of
workers, is he referring the forces that determine "a?" Or, to the forces
that determine "a" along with the effects of bargaining power and ability
to pay?

In volume I, I think he is probably refering only to "a," but by the time
we get to the transformation problem and begin to develop a more concrete
analysis, I think it is true to say that the latter statement is correct.

Notably, the Marxian argument takes it as a general proposition that
otherwise identical individuals will receive differences in pay. In order
words, Marx's wage theory is a frontal assault on the law of one price.

peace, patrick

At 04:25 PM 6/2/00 +0530, you wrote:
>Patrick L. Mason wrote:
>> Paul,
>> Good point. Somewhere I once ran across an engineering textbook that
>> actually had formulas for labor hours, effort, etc. Theoretically,
>> economists since Marx have spent a great deal of time searching for
>> "reduction coefficients," whereas Marx indicated that the reduction of
>> skilled labor to simple or average labor goes on behind the back of
>> capital. Perhaps the reduction coefficients are simply rules of thumb that
>> are observable to capital but that are not observable to empirical
>There is something wrong with my system. I'm getting some postings but not
all. In
>anycase, Marx and Ricardo say exactly the same thing in terms of how to
>skilled to unskilled labor, i.e. Marx said ditto to Ricardo on this. It
goes on
>behind the back of everyone, but its quantitative measure can easily be
taken as
>differentials in the wages. Since wages are determined by a socio-historical
>process for both Marx and Ricardo, the reduction element is also done in the
>similar manner that express in the wage differentials. I don't see much
problem in
>this. Cheers, ajit sinha
>> peace, patrick
>> At 04:16 PM 6/1/00 +0100, you wrote:
>> >At 09:26 01/06/00 -0500, Patrick L. Mason wrote:
>> >
>> >
>> >>I agree. Abstract labor is unobservable and probably unmeasurable,
just as
>> >>utility is unobservable and unmeasurable. Nevertheless, abstract labor
>> >>labor values do provide empirical implications.
>> >>
>> >>peace, patrick l mason
>> >>
>> >>
>> > Note that in capital marx uses the terms abstract labour and average
>> >more or less interchangeably. Whilst an average is not directly observable
>> >it is not unmeasurable. The whole of Taylors school of scientific
>> >was based on determining this.
>> >
>> >

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