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

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Mon Jun 12 2006 - 16:35:19 EDT

I can see that adding workers consumption in on the right would give
a nonsense result, but what I was getting at is a social issue.
What do you think it is about capitalist consumption that makes
it productive of value when workers consumption is not?

You could get a solution by the reverse, include workers
consumption and exclude capitalists consumption.

On the issue of productive labour, I mean in this case productive
of value. Smith was pointing out that expenditure on personal
consumption in the form of servants labour, did not pass on
to the value of the product, whereas labour by manufacturing
workers did.  Using your view of value contradicts this intuition
of Smith.

I now think I understand what you are actually doing. You are
calculating how many hours a worker has to work to buy a ton
of corn. This is similar to Smiths 'Labour Commanded' view of
value, which was criticised by Ricardo and Marx followed
Ricardo on this.

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Ian Wright
Sent: 12 June 2006 18:52
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] workers' consumption and capitalists' consumption

Hi Paul

> Ian why do you think that capitalist consumption is productive
> whereas that of workers is not?

Could you define "productive"? Then I will try to answer your question
as best I can.

> Why not include workers consumption as well in your equation so
> to get
> 2 tons raw material  + 4000 hrs of labor +4 tons workers consumption + 4
> tons capitalist consumption  --> 10 t. of corn

Because we are calculating real-costs in terms of labour-time. The
labour-value of direct labour does not need to be reduced to the
labour-value of its input goods, otherwise the process of vertical
integration enters an infinite loop. This is a property shared by all
formulae for calculating labour values, both the real-cost version and
Sraffa's. But there's no reason to conclude in either case that
workers consumption is not being treated as "productive".

In real-cost accounting the equation for labour value is:
2v + 4v + 4000 = 10v
to give v = 1000 hours (where v is labour-value of corn).

In Sraffian accounting the equation for labour value is:
2v + 4000 = 10v
to give v = 500 hours.

In both cases we don't replace the 4000 hours with workers
consumption. If we did then in the first case we get:
2v + 4v + 4v = 10v
which balances, but is an empty tautology.

And if we replace the 4000 hours in the Sraffian equation we get
2v + 4v = 10v
which is a contradiction, a little sign of the labour-cost accounting error.

However, as the corn-economy is so low-dimensional, and a well-known
special case in which the transformation problem does not arise, then
these examples can appear trivial and a "storm in a teacup" unless we
have the n-commodity context of the accounting problem in mind.

Best wishes,

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