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

From: ajit sinha (sinha_a99@YAHOO.COM)
Date: Mon Feb 26 2007 - 16:28:37 EST

--- Ian Wright <wrighti@ACM.ORG> wrote:

> Hi Ajit
> > In any case, If you put rate of profit equal to
> zero, then
> > Sraffa's prices (dated labor or simultaneous
> equations
> > alike) will be exactly equal to Marx's labor
> values
> > and there will be a commodity residue.
> As an aside, for historical accuracy we should
> really write "Marxian"
> labour values, because Marx never once wrote down
> the standard formula
> for labour values found in static equilibrium
> critiques of his theory.
Hi, Ian! Well, you can put "" if you want. But there
is enough evidence in Marx's writing that he
calculates his labor values exactly the way I had
explained. But you are welcome to keep your ""s, it
does not bother me. I'm no longer interested in what
Marx "really meant or said" debate. I'm only
interested in what makes sense and what does not. Marx
makes sense the way I and many others in the long
tradition of scholars of political economy and history
of economic thought interpret him. But he turns into
an incoherent babler if we attribute a lot of
interpretations attributed to him by self professed
"Marxists". So we should leave this issue behind and
concentrate on whatever we say makes sense or not.
> > How do you
> > calculate labor values? Let's say it takes 5 units
> of
> > corn plus 5 hours of labor to produce 1 unit of
> iron.
> > The labor value of iron will be 5 hours of labor
> plus
> > you go to the corn sector and see how much of
> direct
> > labor and the constant capital elements for corn
> is
> > taken to produce 5 units of corn. You add this
> live
> > labor to your 5 hours and then go into the sectors
> of
> > constant capital used in production of corn.
> Collect
> > the live labor needed to produce the amount of
> > constant capital elements used in producing 5
> units of
> > corn. Add those live labors to your collection of
> > labor hours and then again go in to the sectors
> that
> > produced the constant capital elements of the
> constant
> > capital elements of corn and collect the live
> labor
> > elements from there and add them to your labor
> hour
> > collection. This way you keep going back and back
> and
> > the amount of constant capital elements keep
> becoming
> > smaller and smaller. When they become so small as
> to
> > be negligible,i.e; their limit tends to zero, then
> > your live labor hour collection gives you exactly
> the
> > same measure of labor value as simultaneous
> equations
> > would.
> My only point is that this cannot be a real
> historical process, but
> only a hypothetical one. The 'dates' are not real
> dates, the
> 'successive periods of production' did not actually
> occur.
But who on earth, except those who no nothing about
either Sraffa or Marx, ever suggested anything like
that? The techniques used in reducing the constant
capital elements into labor hours are the contemporary
techniques. Dates in Sraffa only represents the powers
by which the rate of profits augment, because the rate
of profits augment on compound rate and not simple
rate. This is the basic problem with measuring capital
by simple labor values. It calculates rate of profits
at simple rate. Ricardo knew all about it!
> > If my memory serves me right, Morishima's
> > method becomes relevant in joint production
> cases--as
> > you must know, in cases of joint production you
> cannot
> > always determine labor-value of a commodity.
> Cheers,
> Morishima introduces labour values as employment
> multipliers before he
> discusses joint production. In the input-output
> literature, deriving
> from Leontief, the standard formula for labour
> values (which as you
> note is equivalent to setting r=0 and dividing by w
> in Sraffa's dated
> representation) is used to rank sectors according to
> how much
> additional total direct and indirect employment an
> expansion of that
> sector may engender. No mention is normally made of
> Marx's theory of
> value. Input-output theorists also make use of
> "total employment
> multipliers" which augment the technical matrix by
> household
> consumption, which they interpret to include the
> "induced" effects of
> sector expansion due to additional direct and
> indirect household
> consumption.
Wouldn't the simultaneous equation method and the
linear programing method give you the same measure of
value in the case of single technique single product
> I am wondering why the "dated" interpretation of the
> standard formula
> for labour values is preferred over the "employment
> multiplier"
> interpretation, and what are the relations between
> them.
I don't think I understand your question. But the
dated labor approach was designed to show that the
Austrian attempt to measure capital in terms of
average time of production is illogical--there is no
way of aggregating capital independently of rate of
profits. Cheers, ajit sinha
> Thanks,
> -Ian.

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