Re: unanswered questions about rent

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU)
Date: Fri Jan 02 2004 - 12:05:50 EST

>Rakesh has been talking a lot about rent (and recently about Cyrus' work on
>this). It reminded me that I'm still in the dark about some theoretical
>questions in relation to rent. On 22 April, I responded to Cyrus as follows
>but didn't get an answer (he may have missed the question). Maybe, though,
>Rakesh could respond./michael
>>I appreciate very much Cyrus' comments and estimates. Let me display my
>>ignorance of rent questions, though. Cyrus dismisses the question of
>>absolute rent in the following way:
>>>   2.. Q: Why don't I speak of 'absolute rent' in the oil industry?
>>>A:  Within the framework of value theory absolute rent belongs to the
>>>rent-producing sector whose 'organic composition of capital' is below
>>>'average.' Given the fact that oil industry, as a whole, has
>>>historically been heavily 'capita intensive,' speaking of 'absolute oil
>>>rent' is irrelevant.  Those who allude to 'absolute' rent for the oil
>>>industry are either confused Marxists or if they mean 'monopoly rent'
>>>are neoclassical economists, in which case are plain wrong.
>>         I'm in Caracas right now and away from Vol. III (and it's a long
>>time since I looked at the discussion of absolute rent there), and I
>>haven't read any of the sources that Cyrus cites. Is the argument that the
>>marginal wells (which I suspect are in the US) are receiving no rent of any
>>kind--- ie., that the revenues they generate are purely the result of
>>exploitation of oil workers? And, if so, are conclusions about the oil
>>industry in anyway based upon the implicit assumption that the rate of
>>surplus value in the oil industry is equal to that in industries elsewhere?

No capitalist receives profit solely as a result from the
exploitation of the workers he commands. Cyrus has argued that
absolute rent no longer obtains, so either those marginal wells pay
no rent at all; they pay very, very little rent which has a monopoly
character when demand reaches a peak at the height of the business

>Michael A. Lebowitz
>Professor Emeritus
>Economics Department
>Simon Fraser University
>Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
>Office Fax:   (604) 291-5944
>Home:   Phone (604) 689-9510

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