Re: [OPE-L] The Law of Value and Rib Tips

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Sun Feb 13 2005 - 09:56:29 EST

Hi Phil:

For those who want to read something 'new',  skip I.  and scroll
down to section II.

I. Summary?

> I do not conflate price with value.  The embodied labour value of a
> produced commodity is intrinsic to that commodity.  The value of the
> money that the commodity sells for is intrinsic to the money.  They are
> quite distinct, despite being equal.

Well, I see your point (that's progress, I guess) but I don't agree with it.
While I agree with what I take to be a major point of yours (the way I
would put it is as follows: the value-form is a necessary form of appearance
of value and the money-form is a necessary form of appearance of the
value-form; hence value, use-value, exchange-value, and money are all
"intrinsic" to the commodity-form). The disagreement (which I simply want
to note for the sake of clarity; we don't have to discuss it now) is that I
believe that value only equals the quantity of money that commodities sell
for on average in the aggregate (with a caveat explained in the next
section).   OTOH,  you  wrote that "Value, as recognized by money,
cannot fail to equal prices"; value and market prices "are equal. There is
nothing to explain."   While I don't want to get into a textual debate at
this time on Marx's perspective, I think that a perspective that allows
for divergences between value and market price (and various
intermediary forms of price, including POP)  allows us to better grasp
price determination by specific firms in particular branches of production.
But, we don't seem to agree on this point, so I guess we should move
on to other issues.

II. On sunspots and nature:

I had asked: what commodity prices are caused to change by sunspots?

Your reply  "Probably most prices are affected but since sunspots
affect weather agricultural prices would be most affected" is a
reasonable proposition.  Even so -- despite your later reference to
a study on wheat prices in the US in the XX century -- I am not
convinced.  But, I  have an open mind on this question so I am
willing to be convinced.

But, I don't think either one of us really want to discuss the
economic influence of sunspots. However, I'm glad you raised the
issue because it returns us to what seemed to be the point that
Red Kronstandt was driving at in the message I amended to my
2/9 post (the one where RK was replying to Matt Forstater)
which concerns the "material substratum ... which is furnished
by Nature without the help of man."  What RK seems to be
getting at is the assertion that  the LOV and orthodox theory
both  "ignore the contribution of Nature."

Marx's answer to this, I believe, is that both labor and nature
create wealth.  That is, he makes a distinction between wealth
(which, of course, tends to take the commodity-form under
capitalism) and value.

All well and good (I believe), but what percentage of the
wealth of bourgeois society (and the wealth inherited from
pre-capitalist modes of production) is a consequence of the
contribution of nature?   I don't think we have any way of
determining that.  However,  an implication of the foregoing
is that the *sum of values can not equal the sum of prices*
(NB: I wrote prices rather than POP because certain sectors,
e.g. natural monopolies, are excluded from the determination
of POP and the general rate of profit) since the sum of
prices should equal some amount *greater than* the sum of
value because some portion of output which has exchange-
value  takes the form of wealth rather than representing

How would you (and others on the list should they choose
to reply) explain the "contribution of Nature" to the creation of
wealth?  What then are the macroeconomic implications?

In solidarity, Jerry

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