Re: [OPE-L] workers' consumption and capitalists' consumption

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Wed Jun 07 2006 - 22:23:14 EDT

> That was a difficult question.

Hi Hans:

Thanks.  I consider that a compliment.

> Here it is tempting to say that labor-power is congealed
> labor in the body of the laborer, and the laborer's dinner
> transfers the value of the food consumed to the value
> of that commodity.  I don't think it is the right way to
> look at this.  If you wanted to go down this road, then
> it would be difficult to explain why the value of the food
> consumed enters the value of labor-power, but the cooking labor
> does not contribute to the value of labor-power.

One could be able to think of the food as an intermediate
good. Yes?

If cooking labor is employed by capital and takes the form of
wage-labor why doesn't it contribute to the VLP?  After all,
doesn't educational labor employed by capital and taking the
form of wage-labor contribute to the VLP?  Is it (recalling the
comments of Barry Brooks) related to durability?

> Labor-power is traded as a commodity, but it is in many
> respects different from ordinary commodities.

We're in agreement here.

> It is not
> produced in order to be sold, but the worker must sell it in
> order to continue to live.  Therefore I do not consider
> labor-power to be "one portion of the commodity product" as
> you say, and the national income and wealth accounts do not
> consider it that way either.

I'm not sure if I follow your reasoning.  So, workers must sell
LP in order to live.  Why does this mean that LP isn't part of
the commodity product?  I think some part of your argument is

As for NIPA, I don't think that's relevant since it is constructed
using a very different theoretical framework

>  I would
> consider it a transfer payment which is subject to economic
> laws similar to those governing the exchange of commodities,
> but it nevertheless different from ordinary commodity exchange.

Transfer payment?  I don't follow. Why a transfer payment?

> This is my own thinking; Marx himself is vague about this point.

Yes, that's one reason why it makes an interesting question.

> Whereas he makes detailed arguments in chapter 8 why the value
> of the means of production is transferred to the end product,
> he does not make such arguments regarding labor-power
> but simply says in chapter 6 that
> > the labor-time necessary for the production of labor-power
> > resolves itself into that necessary for the production of
> > those means of subsistence; in other words, the value of
> > labor-power is the value of the means of subsistence
> > necessary for the maintenance of its owner.
> (my own translation).  "Resolves" is a very vague formulation
> which can mean many things.

Agreed.  I rather like the vagueness: it encourages us to think
through the matter for ourselves.

In solidarity, Jerry

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