[OPE-L:3959] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TheTransformationProblem

From: Allin Cottrell (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Date: Wed Oct 04 2000 - 22:27:16 EDT

On Wed, 4 Oct 2000, Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU) wrote:

> I shall reply in detail later. I must say that your claim
> that Marx is doing comparative statics...

I wouldn't claim that he's doing nothing but comparative statics
throughout -- that would be grotesque -- but I can't see a
dynamic value analysis, in the sense of Paul's posting, there.

> ... in vol 1 disallows you from grasping his answer to the
> most puzzling paradox of all--that the most powerful
> instruments for reducing labor time suffer a dialectical
> inversion and become the most unfailing means for turning
> over the whole lifetime of the worker and his family into
> labor time at capital's disposal for its own valorization.

> part of marx's answer to this catastrope of a puzzle is that
> machines are *continuously* losing (or in danger) of losing
> value due to technological on going innovation (especially
> in the early years of new machine's life), that is to
> *continuous* reductions in the socially necessary labor time
> needed to produced any given amount of machine power. Moral
> depreciation is not a phenomenon which as I understand it
> can appear in a comparative static exercise in which the
> time periods are discrete.

I read Marx in that passage as describing moral depreciation as
something rather episodic: you get bursts of innovation.  As a
capitalist, you're unlucky if one of these occurs just after
you've bought an expensive machine.  The less time you have to
wait to recoup your investment the less the probability of being
zapped ("the less is the danger of moral depreciation", says
Marx).  Hence the incentive to prolong the working day when the
probability of taking a hit via moral depreciation is seen as
high.  One could formalize this statically, in terms of the
probability of a one-time moral depreciation occurring within a
given time horizon, or you could formalize it in terms of the
impact of a speed-up in an ongoing rate of moral depreciation.  
Marx doesn't offer us an analytical formulation of the point.

Allin C.

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