Re: [OPE-L] the global labor force and capital accumulation

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Tue Jan 17 2006 - 16:10:48 EST

Re: [OPE-L] the global labor force and capital accumulatio> Again I ask the question of what it
> means to say the supply of capital is fixed and how that is 
> to be explained.
> I am posing clear questions about Freeman's article.
> I understand that you may not find my question interesting. That
> is alright. But let's not pretend that you are speaking in any kind
> of conversation with me.


Let us not pretend that you initiated the thread or that your questions
were the first.  To refresh your memory, you can re-read the original 
questions which I posed ... and you have not addressed:

As for your questions about Freeman's article, I _did_ address them 
in the best way that I knew how  -- by _not_  succumbing to uninformed 
speculation. See the  'PS' from the previous message (reproduced 

> Now as for your previous "reply" to my questions
> about Freeman's analysis, I was quite surprised by
> this cavalier statement: 
> There are other disanalogies and analogies: even if one  
> accepts Grossman's argument,  one can not reasonably 
> claim that the current transition "is a necessary and  
> constitutive element of capitalism."  Yet one might claim that
> this "can and should only be a transitory tendency".
> Jerry, do you mean that the worsening situation of labor vis a vis 
> capital and the absolute growth of the surplus population "' can and 
should only be a transitory tendency'"? 

No.  What I wrote was very simple, not in the least bit 'cavalier', and
should not have been particularly controversial.

I don't think anyone claims that the changes in the international
division of labor following the transformations in the former USSR,
many Eastern European nations, and the PRC  were necessary
and constitutive elements of capitalism.  Since capitalism had
long been the dominant mode of production internationally before
these changes, it would be absurd to argue that they are 
"constitutive" of capitalism.   As for my second sentence above,
one might claim that the privatization of industry in formerly
'socialist' nations and the increase then in the quantity of 
wage-workers in those nations producing commodities for sale on 
international markets 'can and should be only a transitory
tendency.'  There are, after all,  hardly any more 'socialist' 
nations left in the world so the extent to which this trend can be 
further generalized and internationalized is rather limited.

As for your questions about Freeman's article, I can not answer
what he means when he claimed that the supply of capital has been
relatively  stable.   But I _did_ attempt to address the issue of 
_how_ that question can be answered in the following:

PS: I'm not sure how Freeman came up with his estimates for
the  how "the effective supply of capital ... has virtually
remained unchanged".  While his estimates for a change in the
capital-labor ratio have been widely cited on the Net, I
haven't been able to discover the original source for the
estimates.  You could see his NBER page -- <>
-- where many of his papers and his CV are online to
track down the original source.  Or, you could (following
the example of Paul B) ask him:

If you seriously want to know more about Freeman's position,
then the makes some suggestions about what you can do.

In solidarity, Jerry

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