Re: [OPE-L] basics vs. non-basics

From: Diego Guerrero (diego.guerrero@CPS.UCM.ES)
Date: Thu Sep 29 2005 - 04:13:13 EDT

OK. This could work for corn and iron. But how do you measure all services in kilograms per annum? Think of haircuts, TV, movies, theater, financial and lawyer services... It would be "too scottish" (I am joking) to think this is not productive labour.

And take a two sector economy: plastic and gold. Suppose you don't have any idea about their values. You know that in year T their outputs are 1 Ton and 1 Kg. respectively, and in T+1 the outputs are 0.95 Tons and 2 Kg. respectively. How could you be sure that the value of 952 Kg. is less than the value of 1001 Kg.?

On the other hand, you say that "the totals vector is... one of mixed type". But the problem is not that each element in this vector is different or measured in different units; the problem is how to obtain each one of the elements as a "total". Total of waht? For instance, in table 1 what is the meaning of 640 (or 540 if we take silk apart)? 540 can have a sense as a sum of 440+100 only if the summands are measured in the same unit. Then what is the meaning of summing kilograms of corn, iron... and TV-financial-lawyer services...?

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Paul Cockshott 
  Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2005 12:05 AM
  Subject: Re: [OPE-L] basics vs. non-basics

  The totals will be in natural units - kilograms per annum say for iron and corn

  and persons for the labour column.

  The totals vector is thus one of mixed type, but it is type compatible with

  the  output and surplus columns.


  For an analysis of  the maths of such dimensioned type systems see the chapter 9

  section 3 of 'SIMD Programming', (Cockshott and Renfrew, Springer Verlag, 2004).



  From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Diego Guerrero
  Sent: 28 September 2005 21:56
  Subject: Re: [OPE-L] basics vs. non-basics


  Paul C. wrote:


  Table 1

          iron    corn    labour  output          surplus

  iron    440     1100    110     825             185
  corn    100     500     50      2250            550
  silk    100     100     20      1000            1000
  totals  640     1700    180             


  But how do you sum the different physical inputs in order to obtain those "totals"? Total of what? You need to use either (labour) time or another unknown physical property (common to all commodities) that you should mention. If not, you must be using monetary prices (ie, ratios of labour times used in producing commodities and money).











  ----- Original Message ----- 

  From: "Paul Cockshott" <wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK>


  Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2005 5:37 PM

  Subject: Re: [OPE-L] basics vs. non-basics



  Dear Ian, Rakesh, Paul C. and Jerry:

  I have been travelling, therefore I have had to postpone my answer:

  The only point I want to make is this: In a real economy, not one where
  there is proportional growth in every branch (like the one implied in
  Mole-Sraffian notion), we have only one way to know which has been the
  of growth of the economy in physical terms. We have to use labour and
  measure its quantities in a physical unit: hours, etc. The other
  way is starting from money quantities and deflacting them, but this is
  not a
  "real" mesure. So, when we speak of a physical surplus for an economy
  economy) as a whole we have to be conscious that there can be no other
  physical measure that quantities of time (of labour) unless we renounce
  know if this economy is growing or decreasing, etc.

  Marx once wrote about Adam Smith being too Scottisch. I would say that
  who can conceive of an aggregate physical surplus in terms others than
  labour-Time are too Scottisch as well.
  I can not deny that I am Scottish, but I would deny that one can
  be too Scottish.
  But more seriously:

  Do you require a fully balanced economy on a von-Neumann growth
  path for the notion of a standard system to be relevant.

  No. Consider the following economy with a surplus
  but which is not balanced.

  Table 1

          iron    corn    labour  output          surplus

  iron    440     1100    110     825             185
  corn    100     500     50      2250            550
  silk    100     100     20      1000            1000
  totals  640     1700    180             

  Sraffa wrote that every economy contains a
  standard system, which can be discovered by :
  1. Discarding all non-basic industries.

  2. Scaling back those basic industries whose share of the
     output mix is excessive compared to their share
     of the input mix.

  Table 2 shows the result of applying this
  rule to the economy in table 1.
  We have first discarded the silk industry as non basic.
  Then, observing that the ratio of iron to corn in the output
  was 825/2250 = 11/30 but the ratio of  iron to corn in the input of 
  the basic sector was 540/1600 = 11/32<11/30,
  we scale back the iron industry  until the iron/corn ratios are equal
  in both the input and the output at 1/3 giving the Standard
  System shown in Table 2.

  Table 2
          iron    corn    labour  output  R 
  iron    400     1000    100     750     0.5 
  corn    100     500     50      2250    
  totals  500     1500    150 

  Note that the iron/corn
  ratios in both input and output are 1/3, and the the ratio of 
  the total output to the total input is 3/2. This gives an
  expansion rate R of 0.5 or profit rate of 50%.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: "Paul Cockshott" <wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK>
  Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2005 10:20 AM
  Subject: Re: [OPE-L] basics vs. non-basics

  > Diego Guerrero wrote:
  >> Is not R in Sraffa's theory the maximun rate of profit? If so, it is
  >> ratio or quotient between two "things" that must have some (physical)
  >> dimension. For instance, in Marxian theory, the rates of profit and
  >> surplus value are also quotients. They have no dimension but are the
  >> ratios of quantities of labour or money (measured in hours or euros).
  >> So, the rate of profit is an (maximum) eigenvalue as well, but this
  >> number is the quotient of two units that are in fact the same
  >> But again: which is the physical unit of the standard commodity? It
  >> have one and I cannot conceive of nothing different from labour.
  >> Diego
  > Fair point about R being a ratio. The things of which it is a ratio
  > are vectors of commodities. I dont have any difficulty thinking of
  > Many ordinary commodities are themselves vectors of their components.
  > Consider NKP fertilizer used on farms, this is a simple mixture of
  > nitrate,
  > potassium salts and phosphates. Despite being a mixture it
  > has physical bulk and can be quantified.
  > Sraffa's abstraction is essentially similar to the chemists notion
  > of a Mole, a gram of a compound specified in fixed proportions
  > corresponding
  > to the molecular structure.

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