Re: the productive macworker

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Thu May 20 2004 - 10:15:38 EDT

At 17:19 17/05/2004, Paul Bullock wrote:

>The worker who provide the food at the end of the queue, much like a high
>class soup-kitchen, create a profit for their corporation. Part of their
>time is productive ( food preparation)  an other part unproductive ( eg
>collecting the cash). It is most unfortunate that so many writers seem to
>want to identify  particular concrete labours in their entirety  with  the
>categories productive and unproductive of capital. The fact is that  a mix
>often occurs during anyone day at the individual level. It is only as a
>general statement that we can refer to time spent either one way or another,
>labouring activity  acting in one way or another. Of course there will be
>some professions where the distinction is particularly clear. Bank clerks
>and others purely involved in  registering claims to money for example.
>Generally the word 'service' in this difficult in any case. It cannot be
>taken to be simply the same as the category 'unproductive'  as used by Marx.
>This was partly why Marx was unhappy at Smith's use of the term 'immaterial'
>as an identity with unproductive.

         We agree entirely on the theory here. The question, then, is what
are the implications for empirical measurement? If we acknowledge that, to
a significant extent, workers in the fastfood sector are productive of
surplus value rather than merely collecting cash, shouldn't we (in the
interests of a closer fit to Marxian categories--- and given the enduring
Smithian infection of Marx) applaud the trial balloon of the Bush hacks re
placing fastfood preparation in the 'manufacturing' sector?

         in solidarity,

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at

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(58-212) 573-4111
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