Re: [OPE-L] question on the interpretation of labour values

From: Philip Dunn (hyl0morph@YAHOO.CO.UK)
Date: Thu Feb 22 2007 - 14:05:14 EST


Hi Ian,

I do recall suggesting, some time ago, that you stay away from all this
stuff.

Let us not make life difficult for ourselves.

I want to take the value accounting perspective to its ultimate extreme.

Consider Marx's notion of relative value. The relative value of a
produced commodity is expressed by the equivalent value of the money it
sells for.

The relative value of money is expressed by the equivalent value of
labour.

If 1 million hours are worked then the value of "money value added" is 1
million hours.

End of Story.



On Thu, 2007-02-22 at 09:25 -0800, Ian Wright wrote:
> Hi Ajit
>
> Welcome back. Thanks for your comments on the history of this concept.
>
> > In any case Marx accused Adam
> > Smith for maintaining the proposition that at some
> > stage labor alone produces somethig--i.e. there was no
> > commodity residual. According to Marx this had to be
> > the case for his additive theory of value to be
> > meaningful. I'm not sympathetic to Marx's reading of
> > Smith on this point, but I think Sraffa is more
> > sympathetic.
>
> Considering the simpler case of simple commodity production, Sraffa's
> `reduction to dated quantities of labour' formula (with r=0) does
> entirely eliminate the commodity residual. This is nonsense if
> interpreted as describing an actual historical process. But useful,
> however, when viewed as a hypothetical interpretation of an
> instantaneous property of technology field (just like the definition
> of the potential energy of a point in an electric field).
>
> As an alternative, Morishima interprets labour-values as employment
> multipliers, i.e. how much direct and indirect employment is generated
> by a unit increase in output of a given commodity. But the concept of
> employment multipliers is similarly counterfactual in its own way, but
> I'd be interested to know if anyone has thought much about this
> interpretation, or worked with it.
>
> > Keep in mind that if there is no
> > commodity residual, that is if commodity could be
> > produced solely by labor, then the maximum rate of
> > profits would become infinite. You must have a
> > commodity residual to have an upper bound on the
> > maximum rate of profits. Now I think I have confused
> > Ian more than he was before--but I have tried to
> > clarify a point in my own humdrum manner.
>
> I think we discussed this issue before. You could try again if you
> feel that I missed your point.
>
> Best wishes,
> -Ian.



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