Re: (OPE-L) total values = total prices? addition

From: Jurriaan Bendien (andromeda246@HETNET.NL)
Date: Tue May 18 2004 - 11:58:48 EDT

> And what do the TV commercials mean when they say,
> "maximum value for your money"?

Presumably, maximum net use-value.

The problem of value
> or the value theory is not about how many different
> things people mean by "value" in English language. It
> is a particular problem about a particular theory, and
> in this case about Marx's theory. I don't have time to
> get involved in a debate on value theory but sometimes
> I get fed up by reading so much of nonsense on value
> theory. Cheers, ajit sinha

I don't take such a negative view. To begin with, we have to distinguish
between economic value and other sorts of value, e.g. aesthetic value, moral
value and so on. But I see it as one of the tasks of inquiry into value
theory to show how these different kinds of value are related. This goes
beyond traditional Marxist concerns. If my understanding was really good,
which I don't claim that it is, I would be able to show the links between
popular aesthetic notions and economic value for example.

If you wanted to show the validity of Marx's theory in a modern setting, you
would need to show how modern notions of value, if scrutinised, would lead
to the same conclusion as Marx arrived at. Another task of value theory is
in the field of the sphere of consumption, which Marx did not really
discuss. A fellow worker with whom I discussed the idea of "real wages" with
once observed, "it's not just the product we make that has a higher value
than our salaries, but in addition when we buy stuff with our salary,
there's again a profit mark-up we have to pay for, with our earnings. So now
you tell me what my real wage is." And he got me there, because I hadn't
thought of that one, I was merely referring to the effect of inflation and
taxation on wages.

The book to which I referred is actually quite interesting, because it
elucidates the problems involved in turning human knowledge into a
marketable commodity, and how attempts are made to overcome this. That is,
it concerns the real substance of the "new economy" debate. It also has
implications for the Marxian theoretical problem of the reduction of skilled
labor to simple labor, discussed e.g. by Rubin, Rowthorn, and Itoh. It's
something I thought about as graduate student when studying theories of
"human capital" and the relationship between schooling and labor markets.

The quote is also interesting because it illustrates just exactly what Marx
is talking about - (1) the fact, that businesspeople constantly have to deal
with economic values which are not known or of uncertain magnitude, and that
the value of a company is often established by its earnings-potential, i.e.
its ability to generate net profit of a certain magnitude within the context
of a given market, (2) that accounting is to a great extent necessarily
retrospective, and that in order to forecast potential earnings,
businesspeople themselves actually have to make calculations similar to
those Marx performed.

If you think what I wrote is nonsense, I'd be keen to know why.


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