Re: (OPE-L) measuring exploitation

From: dlaibman@JJAY.CUNY.EDU
Date: Thu Oct 02 2003 - 10:23:54 EDT

Just can't resist. . .

First, let's say "fewer workers" instead of "less workers."  "Less" reduces labor to its quantitative dimension alone.  "Fewer" implies discrete, individual human beings, the "exteriority of capital" (Dussel).   (Talk about pedantic!  :-)   :-)  )

Now, Jerry's question.  If we interpret "wages in B 50% lower" literally, meaning absolute (real) wages, the situation might be represented thus:

              W       L       Y       Y/L       W/Y       W/L
       A      60     100     100       1         .6        .6
       B      40     150     100       .666      .4        .2666

Wages 50% lower, labor 50% higher, in B; same output.  Workers in B are more exploited; rate of exploitation would be (1 - W/Y)/W/Y, or 150%, compared to 66.666% for A.

If, however, Jerry meant to say "wage *rate* in B 50% lower, then we get this picture:

              W       L       Y       Y/L       W/Y       W/L
       A      60     100     100       1         .6        .6
       B      60     150     100       .666      .6        .4

Here the rate of exploitation is the same in the two sectors (or regions) (or firms).  Uniform variation in Y/L and W/L will keep W/Y the same.

Unless, of course, we get to the heart of the matter and recognize that exploitation is social, not individual.  If A is the prevailing (or "regulating") group of capitals and B is a backward one, the unit value of B's output will be governed by A; in the very minimal framework of this example, output in B (in a sense that measures realization as well as production) would be represented as 66 2/3, the wage share would be .9, and the rate of exploitation only .1.  But this takes us rather far beyond Jerry's case, and a fuller model would be needed to explore it adequately.

David Laibman

----- Original Message -----
From: gerald_a_levy <gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM>
Date: Thursday, October 2, 2003 9:05 am
Subject: (OPE-L) measuring exploitation

> Phil and Riccardo: thanks for your answers. I'll change the
> numbers a bit to get at the question I originally intended.
> Here's the modified question (all other conditions previously
> stated remaining the same):
> c)  In the first firm (A)  there are less workers (La) because
> output/worker/hr. is greater  but  La receive higher wages.
> In the second firm (B) there are more workers (Lb>La) and
> the output/worker/hr is lower but these workers (Lb) are
> paid lower wages than the other group (La).  Suppose further
> that output/worker/hr is  50% greater in A than in B and that
> wages for La are 50% greater than those received by Lb.
> (Also: Assume, to avoid further pedantic responses, wages
> for Lb are greater than 0.)
> * Which is the more exploited --   La or Lb?
> In solidarity, Jerry
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