[OPE-L:3930] Re: Re: Re: m in Marx's theory

From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@MAIL.WESLEYAN.EDU)
Date: Sun Oct 01 2000 - 18:49:25 EDT

In response to this from me---

>>3)  Taken together, steps (1) and (2) imply that the value of a unit of
>>labor power is the labor time socially necessary to reproduce that
>>unit--that is, the labor time embodied in the subsistence wage bundle.
>>This is a necessary consequence of Marx's arguments in Chapters 1 and 6.  
>>4)  There are two ways of measuring the value of labor power defined above:
>> one is by summing the embodied labor values of each of the goods in the
>>subsistence wage bundle.  Denote this by the vector product b*v(b), where b
>>is the subsistence wage bundle and v(b) is the corresponding vector of unit
>>labor values for the goods in the wage bundle.  Another way to measure it
>>is by taking the money wage rate *just necessary to ensure subsistence*,
>>measured in the units of some money commodity, and multiplying it by the
>>unit value of that money commodity, say the value of gold v(g)--thus, w*v(g).
>>5)  The two methods will not in general give the same number for the value
>>of labor power.

Paul C. writes:
>You are of course formally right when dealing with purely mathematical models.
>However, where is the sensitivity analysis here.
>By what percentage do the two measures differ in  typical economiew today?
>More abstractly, given a large set of industries with random distributions of
>organic compositions of capital - following some appropriate Gaussian
>distribution, and then if we select from this population of industries
>a subset corresponding to roughly 50% of the output by price/value 
>designate these the wage good industries.
>Under these circumstances what would be the difference between your two
>measures above?

Paul, I think I see your point, but I wonder if you're missing mine.
Suppose that under the conditions that you indicate, empirical or
simulated, it turns out that either of the methods indicated in step (4)
are consistent with aggregate labor value (of net or gross product) being
"pretty close" to the corresponding aggregate money value, and aggregate
surplus value being "pretty close" to aggregate profit, once the
appropriate labor/money conversion factor is applied.  

Better yet, suppose we put aside the first aggregate altogether, and put
aside as well the presumption that commodity prices are somehow dependent
on or influenced by (in any socially causal sense) respective embodied
labor values, but suppose it still turns out that, under the empirical or
simulated conditions you indicate, aggregate profits are generally positive
when the labor embodied in the wage bundle is less than the aggregate
direct labor performed--which I imagine must be so, given that you're
arguing for an even stronger, albeit similarly inexact, relationship.  

Then why do we care at all about the transformation problem, or Marx's
asserted aggregate equalities, especially if the latter can only be ensured
by adopting arbitrary departures from Marx's stipulated method of value
determination, and a (necessary but not arbitrary) departure from one of
his aggregative claims?


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