Accumulation - addition

From: Jurriaan Bendien (andromeda246@HETNET.NL)
Date: Mon May 10 2004 - 19:24:23 EDT

I wrote previously:

"Capital accumulation may occur through:

(1) direct appropriation without exchange (dispossession)
(2)  economic exchange (trade)
(3) appropriation of a surplus product in production (exploitation)"

I should really add to that another category, namely "taxes, tithes and
tributes and levies" by government authorities which own profit-making
enterprises, but arguably these could be interpreted in the given case as
being (1), (2) or (3) - they could be an impost on property, on income
receipts, on persons, or on consumption expenditure. "Economic exchange"
could of course also be considered as exploitation, if the exchange is not
an exchange of equivalents.

In UNSNA, when estimating the value of the new net output (GDP), only those
indirect taxes paid which pertain directly to the production of output, and
thus are part of the cost-price (the cost-structure) of output are included,
but subsidies paid to producer enterprises are subtracted from indirect
taxes paid. This way of "netting" implies a kind of "exchange" between the
government and producer enterprises, whereby the enterprises pay indirect
taxes, and receive producer subsidies (if no subsidies are paid by the
government to producer enterprises, then all the relevant indirect taxes
paid are considered part of the new value added). However if a government
tenders a contract to private enterprise, the value of the contract is not
considered a "subsidy" for the purpose of national accounts.

In the case of compensation of employees, no such "exchange" applies; only
employer contributions in respect of social security levies, which are
regarded as part of the cost-price of output, are included, and not
government social security payments to employees ( a "social wage" in the
form of accident compensation and suchlike) because the latter are
considered "transfers" unrelated to the value of new output. So whereas they
constitute income for employees, they are not considered to be part of the
new value added. (As an aside, paradoxically if aggregate unemployment
rises, and more police, social workers, military staff, psychotherapists,
counsellors etc. are hired, and the ratio of profits to wages rises due to
the adverse bargaining position of employees, then it is possible for GDP to
rise at the same time as aggregate employment increases).

The topic of taxation, and its potential as a source of capital
accumulation, has rarely been explored systematically in the Marxian
literature, and the yearly total net tax levy are often just regarded as "a
component of annual surplus-value". This opinion must however be qualified,
simply because the taxes included in the calculation of gross and net output
for national accounting purposes are not equal to total taxes levied, i.e.
some taxes are levied (and distributed) outside of the sphere of production.
Looking at the 2002 figures, the structure of US federal tax revenue was as
approximately as follows:

Individual Income Taxes $858.3 billion
Corporation Income Taxes $148 billion
Miscellaneous other taxes and receipts $79 billion
Excise Taxes $67 billion
Total US federal tax receipts $1,152.3 billion
Total federal receipts (including retirement and social insurance levies)
$1,853 billion

Thus, the value of total US federal tax receipts in 2002 was very close to
the total GDP of the Russian Federation or the total GDP of the Netherlands
and Australia combined (in ppp terms - for international GDP comparisons for
2002, see: That is a very
large sum of money, which Marxian economists can ignore only at their peril.


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