Re Diego's  and Nicky's : Diego wrote: > I think that the "historical and moral element" of the VLP refers to the regional (national) definition of this commodity. All commodities are historically defined: <snip, JL>. Therefore we need to define different national levels of the VLP at each moment in historical time, I agree. The question then becomes (relating it to the original context of Simon's question): how can we make quantitative international comparisons for the values of labour power? If we can't do that, then we can't really say much about the disparities between the values of labour power and wages globally. > i.e. I think Marx meant that all others commodities (in the general case of the LTV) would tend to have the same price throughout the world, but this would not be the case for the labor power. I beg to differ. There are *many* commodities that are sold at different market prices in different markets in the global economy. E.g. consider the price of new (or used) housing internationally (or even often regionally within a nation.) Or, consider the price of milk in different markets internationally. Or, consider the markets prices for different forms of entertainment such as ticket prices at movie theatres. Or, consider the market price for health care (where it isn't nationalized or subsidized.) Or, consider the market price of maize, tobacco, and coffee in different international markets. Or, consider the market prices of electricity, coal, oil and gasoline internationally. Or, consider the prices of the same pharmaceuticals *even when they are produced by the same transnational corporations* when sold in different national markets. Etc. Etc. Etc. I think that the "law of one price" (LOOP) was *not* advanced by Marx (certainly not as a "law" -- perhaps only provisionally as a simplifying assumption) but has instead been advanced by some Marxist economists who want to simplify the quantitative calculations and have solvable equations in models and illustrations. As an empirical matter, I think that even the much *milder* claim that most commodities are sold at the same market price in international markets can not be sustained -- indeed, I suspect that the # of exceptions is greater than the # that conform to the alleged "rule". [A related note: what is understood as 'simple labour' can and does vary internationally and historically. Thus, for instance, there can be long-run changes in what is socially understood to be simple labor due to changes in education: e.g. in most (?) capitalist social formations basic literacy and mathematical ability is presumed (whereas historically and in other contemporary capitalist social formations this was and is not considered the 'norm'). This adds an additional complexity to the 'reduction problem' since what one is reducing _to_ is not the same internationally. ] > I think that some elements in Leontief and von Neumann models are pure mathematical elements, and may and should be detached from their material components. For instance, one can dettach the instrumental way in which Alfred Marshall or Joan Robinson drew some curves and use them for different purposes without any need for sharing Marshall's or Robinson's ideas about the capitalist society. The issue isn't one of pure mathematics. The issue is whether a particular mathematical technique does justice or injustice to our understanding of a particular socio-economic question. E.g. there is nothing wrong with linear algebra or one-sector models from a mathematical perspective -- yet they are highly problematic tools if we are attempting to model non-linear and dynamic social processes. Thus, the Von Neumann model (like the Harrod model and other one-sector models) exhibits a "knife-edge" problem which should tell us that such models have very limited applications. Also, on a more general note, I think that when considering whether techniques used by marginalists should be adopted for convenience sake by Marxists for a particular task, we have to be very careful that we aren't unwittingly importing marginalist assumptions and theory into our analysis. Nicky wrote: <<Even in a single social formation, how do you arrive at the 'value' of the consumption bundle (means of consumption) in labour hours?: 1) how do you compare the different kinds of skills that go into producing different commodities, and reducing them to simple labour hours? Marx himself aimed to save the trouble of making this reduction, by considering labour time to be only an 'immanent measure' (i.e. not computable). Where exactly did he write that labour time isn't computable? 2) The actual measure is money; has to be. For one thing, money wages are paid before production but the real wage is known only after production. Yet, as a practical matter, money wages tend to be paid at intervals that begin *after* production has commenced. How many workers do you think receive wages before they have produced anything? Indeed, the lag between work done and wages received is one of the mechanisms of control by capitalists over wage-workers. Thus, the M-C-M' description is misleading since it doesn't begin with M purchasing MP and LP and _then_ there is production; rather there is M advanced for MP and labour-power is secured, through an employment contract, where both workers and capitalists understand as part of that contract that the money for LP won't be paid out to workers as wages until *after* production has commenced. (Perhaps Ernesto S would like to comment on this?) In solidarity, Jerry PS on Alfredo's : You know as much as we do. If the US government knows, they're not telling (us).
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