[OPE-L:3994] Re: A Comment on Allin's Work on Moral Depreciation

From: Allin Cottrell (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Date: Fri Oct 06 2000 - 20:20:25 EDT

On Fri, 6 Oct 2000, John Ernst wrote:

> Thanks for sharing your short piece "Marx on 'Moral Depreciation'
> and the Working Day"  which you linked to your post in OPE-L 3974.

John, thank you for taking the trouble to read it!

[synopsis of first part of my argument snipped]

> But let's consider the matter a bit more closely.  Clearly,
> for the sake of simplicity you assumed that by doubling the
> working day the capitalist will use up his fixed capital in
> 1/2 the time. For some types of fixed capital, this is no
> doubt true.  However, for other types, it is not.  Or,
> perhaps, we could say that it is true for fixed capital in
> so far as depreciation is due solely to use.  It is not true
> in so far as depreciation is due solely to age.  Thus, for
> the capitalist, there is a huge incentive to use the fixed
> capital 24/7 in so far as depreciation is due to age.

Agreed.  If depreciation is due in part simply to the passage of
time rather than to use, the incentive toward 24/7 operation of
fixed capital is greater than would appear from my illustration.

> In Vol. I, moral depreciation occurs in exactly the same
> fashion as the type of depreciation that is due to solely to
> age.  Hence, Marx discusses or, more precisely, introduces
> the concept in that context.  Given that it adds to the type
> of depreciation that comes solely with age, it provides a
> greater incentive (special?) for capitalists to prolong the
> working day.

Perhaps I need to think about this some more.  My first reaction
is that although the incentive due to aging (or moral
depreciation) may be "greater", nonetheless the incentive due to
the basic arithmetic I set out, on the assumption that
depreciation is strictly proportional to use, ought to be
sufficient in itself to pull a profit-maximizing capitalist
toward 24/7 operation of fixed capital (provided, as I emphasize
a bit later in my note, the capitalist is not


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